The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning supports families and their children from prenatal through school age by using data, research and stakeholder guidance to assure high quality services.
December 2017 Top News
Message from Suzann Morris, Deputy Secretary

I am excited to share the latest update on the Keystone STARS Revisioning. Stakeholder involvement and feedback is important to OCDEL throughout the revisioning process and the recent release, Pennsylvania Keystone STARS Revisioning Process: A Process Evaluation shares the involvement of the stakeholders and ways OCDEL can strengthen stakeholder opportunities for input as we move forward. 

Congratulations to the ten Pennsylvania Parents as Teachers affiliates who were selected as Blue Ribbon Affiliates for delivering high-quality services to children and families. Parents as Teachers is an evidence-based program that promotes early development, learning and health of young children by supporting and engaging their parents and caregivers.

Are you ready for the new PD Registry coming after the first of the new year? There are steps you can take now to ensure you're prepared to enjoy the new registry when it's released. The registry team is ready to answer any questions you have at  registry@pakeys.org.

Finally, we at OCDEL would like to wish all a happy and safe holiday season to all of our partners and families. 
Early Education in Pennsylvania

stakeholderPennsylvania's Keystone STARS Revisioning Process: A Process Evaluation

Pennsylvania's Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is pleased to share  Pennsylvania's Keystone STARS Revisioning Process: A Process Evaluation, funded by Pennsylvania's Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge Grant. Stakeholder feedback played an integral part in the success of revisioning the Keystone STARS and we are grateful for the participation of all stakeholders in this shared evaluative process.  
The Keystone STARS Process Evaluation is a mid-revisioning evaluation companion to the University of Pennsylvania's November 2015  An Inquiry into Pennsylvania's Keystone STARS, funded by the William Penn Foundation.The Inquiry provided an overarching examination of the Keystone STARS program and examined the relationships between the STARS rating levels, quality components, and an overall measure of child outcomes.  Using the Inquiry as a foundation for the Keystone STARS revisioning efforts allowed for a stakeholder driven process that resulted in changes to the STARS indicators such as a nearly 50% reduction in the number of STARS indicators. For more details on the Keystone STARS Revisioning changes,  please click here.
The Keystone STARS Process Evaluation includes an examination of the stakeholder driven revisioning process using data from stakeholder interviews, online surveys, and a document review to determine impact. The evaluation report put forth the following recommendations:
  • Continue to build and utilize feedback loops to further engage stakeholders in the new system,
  • Continue to engage the Think Tank,
  • Continue the Revisioning process,
  • Begin to develop and implement a robust evaluation plan for Keystone STARS, and
  • Continue to develop and provide intentional communications to the field. 
OCDEL is committed to consistently raising the floor and the bar for Pennsylvania's early care and education field through the Keystone STARS program. Through continued stakeholder engagement and ongoing formal evaluation, the system stands ready to respond to new developments within the field of early learning ensuring all children are afforded the opportunity to high quality care and early learning. 

This initiative is in part by Pennsylvania's Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge grant. For more information on other initiatives funded by this grant, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.

PATPennsylvania's Parents as Teachers Earns Blue Ribbon in Delivering High-Quality Services 

Ten Pennsylvania Parents as Teachers affiliates have been recognized as exemplary Blue Ribbon Affiliates delivering high-quality services to children and families. The following Pennsylvania programs earned the Blue Ribbon for the 2016 year, granted October 2017: 
  • Community Prevention Partnerships of Berks County 
  • EOTC-Scranton Area Family Center
  • Family Resource Center of Blair County 
  • Greene County Family Center 
  • Mercer County Family Center-Farrell Area School District 
  • Mercer County Family Center-Community Connections Greenville Area School District 
  • Mercer County Family Center-Sharon City School District
  • Parenting Plus Program/ Centre County Youth Service Bureau 
  • The Children's Advocacy Center of Lawrence County
  • Wayne County Family Center - P.A.T./Wallenpaupack Area School District  
Parents as Teachers mission is to promote the optimal early development, learning and health of children by supporting and engaging their parents and caregivers. The Parents as Teachers Evidence-Based Model is the comprehensive home-visiting, parent education model used by Parents as Teachers Affiliates. The model provides services to families with children from prenatal through kindergarten. Parents as Teachers (PAT) affiliates take part in the Quality Endorsement and Improvement (QEIP) process once every five years as part of their continuous quality improvement efforts. 

To earn the Quality Endorsement, affiliates must complete a comprehensive self-study and review process that demonstrates they are meeting or exceeding the Parents as Teachers Essential Requirements, along with at least 75 of the 100 Quality Standards. Programs that earn the Quality Endorsement are recognized by the national Parents as Teachers office as exemplary Blue Ribbon Affiliates delivering high-quality services to children and families.  For more information about Parents as Teachers in Pennsylvania visit www.pa-pat.org.

PA-AAIMH: 3 Reasons Good Infant Mental Health Matters

Infant mental Health is the optimal social, emotional, and cognitive well-being of children ages 0 to 3, developed by secure and stable relationships with nurturing caregivers. A new infographic, 3 Reasons Good Infant Mental Health Matters, from the PA Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health provides information on how brain architecture, body & health, and behaviors & relationships can impact the mental health of infants. Share the link or print the document to share with families and staff.

Clarifications Regarding Documents Rescinded by the U.S. Department of Education 

On October 20, 2017, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) announced that 72 guidance documents related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 have been rescinded. USDE has stated that these documents were outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective. 

Historically, USDE's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has not rescinded such documents, dating as far back as the 1980s. USDE's action of rescinding these guidance documents has generated questions from the field regarding the potential and impact on Pennsylvania's students with disabilities, their families, and school systems. Please be assured that USDE's rescission of these guidance documents does not change Pennsylvania's policies, practices, and procedures related to federal statues or regulations for special education. The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) continues to review the documents to confirm that rescission of these documents will have no negative impact on students. While PDE continues to review the guidance documents, on October 24, 2017, USDE gave further clarification and assurance related to the intents and purposes of the rescinded documents. Read more.

Save the Date: 2018 P-3 Sustainability Conference 

The Pennsylvania Department of Education, Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is pleased to announce the 2018 P-3 Sustainability Conference to be held on May 7-8, 2018 in State College. The purpose of Pennsylvania's P-3 Sustainability Conference is to help leaders working in a variety of P-3 settings throughout the commonwealth develop sustainability structures for student success from prenatal through grade 3. 

Registration fees, hotel, and lunch will be included. Act 48 and Pennsylvania Quality Assurance System (PQAS) hours will be offered. 

Registration will be available early 2018 and released via the PA Early Ed News. Questions? Please contact Jolie Phillips at jolphillip@pa.gov.

This initiative is in part by Pennsylvania's Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge grant. For more information on other initiatives funded by this grant, visit the  Pennsylvania Department of Education website.
Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge

Stipends Build on Work Done by P3 Governor's Institutes Participants

The Pennsylvania P-3 Governor's Institute occurred during the summer of 2017. The w eek-long Governor's Institutes brought together early learning professionals from birth-5 and K-3 settings together in teams to focus on instructional strategies to promote a comprehensive set of early learning standards; and support teams to develop an action plan to implement Pre-K to Grade 3 strategies in their local settings.

The encourage the work moving forward, the Pennsylvania Department of Education Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) offered all Pennsylvania P-3 Governor's Institute teams the opportunity to apply for a P-3 Prototype stipend of up to $10,000. The stipends were approved for proposals building directly upon their team's work from the P3 Governor's Institutes, creating sustainability for continued cross-sector relationship building between P-3 administrators and community entities, and implementing high quality strategies around P-3 alignment. Read more.

This initiative is in part by Pennsylvania's Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge grant. For more information on other initiatives funded by this grant, visit the  Pennsylvania Department of Education website.
Pennsylvania's PD Registry: Things To Know and Do

Early learning professionals, your voices have been heard! An improved PD Registry is coming February 2018.

Over the next several months, look for  Things to Know and Do to experience a smooth transition. Get a jump on what you can do now!
  • Log in to www.pakeys.org and make sure your profile information is accurate, especially your email address.
  • Please also make sure you have attached yourself to the child care facility or facilities where you are currently employed. If you are not employed with a child care facility, please select "other organization" when updating this field.
  • Course Catalog Credits! As of December 31, 2017, all course catalog credits must be used to purchase courses. If you think you are unable to use the credit, please send an email to registry@pakeys.org and a refund will be issued.
  • If you are enrolled in an online ITERS or ECERS course, you must complete the course by December 31, 2017. Other less common online courses will also need to be completed by this date.
  • Complete any course evaluations by December 31, 2017 to ensure proper credit for the course is awarded. 
Temporary Hiatus on PQAS Applications
  • NEW PQAS Applicants: Applications will be accepted until December 15, 2017.  Applications will then be accepted again starting February 15, 2018.
  • PQAS Renewal Applicants: Renewal applications are accepted throughout the year with no change in acceptance timelines.    
Please send your questions or concerns to pqas@pakeys.org.
conferencesChange to conference uploads
The new PD Registry will provide enhanced features surrounding conference validation beginning January 1, 2018. Until then, please follow the procedures below when entering conference information  BEFORE January 1, 2018. Please follow the instructions below when entering conferences and validating attendance for participants.
For all conferences held from now until December 31, 2017:
  • Submit a Special Event application and enter the conference either within the Registry or as a conference upload.
  • If entering the conference within the PD Registry, all attendance must be verified and marked completed by December 31, 2017.
  • If your organization is using the conference upload component, the spreadsheets with all sessions and Registry ID numbers of participants must be submitted to the PA Key no later than December 31, 2017.
  • Please make sure all participants have a valid Registry ID to ensure participants receive proper credit. 
For all conferences held AFTER December 31, 2017:
  • Submit a Special Event application for the conference before December 31, 2017.
  • Once the conference is approved, enter the conference as one course in the PD Registry and wait for approval of the course.
  • Participants may either register for the conference through the registry or may register outside of the registry through your organizational process.
  • Attendance will not be validated until after the conference in the new PD Registry. If participants register online through the PD Registry, you will validate attendance after the conference. If you are entering the participants after the conference, you will manually enter them in the new Registry.
  • You will not enter individual sessions.
  • For example, you will enter "The Spring Conference" with overview, objectives, one overarching Knowledge Area and hours for the entire conference. You will not be required to enter CKC's for these conferences.
This process will be used now until early Spring, after which, there will be improved conference registration processes. This new, streamlined process will allow for enhanced session and payment processes. 
We look forward to bringing you this new system with upgraded, user-friendly features for the participants, conference providers, and instructors! Look for updates and information in the coming months. 
Stay tuned for future  Things to Know and Do in the PA Early Ed News as the transition continues.
If you have questions, contact the Registry at registry@pakeys.org.
Of Interest

LIHEAP Applications Open 

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, helps low-income families pay their heating bills. LIHEAP is a grant that offers assistance in the form of a cash grant, sent directly to the utility company, or a crisis grant for households in immediate danger of being without heat. In addition to the LIHEAP cash program, households experiencing a heating crisis may be eligible for additional benefits through the LIHEAP crisis program. Visit the PA Department of Human Services website for additional details and brochures to share with the families you serve.

What Child Care Providers Need to Know about Preventing the Spread of the Flu 

It's time to prepare for the 2017-2018 influenza (flu) season, as the flu is often more serious than the common cold in children. Each year, millions of children get sick with the flu, which can result in hospitalization or death. Annual influenza vaccine is recommended for all people 6 months of age and older. Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old, are at an increased risk of hospitalization and complications due to influenza. Since infants younger than 6 months are too young to get their own flu shot, the best way to protect these very young children is for all family members and caregivers to get the flu vaccine. This is called "cocooning", and it is especially important for adults who care for infants younger than 6 months. Children who have chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes or neurologic conditions, are also at higher risk for serious complications due to influenza. Parents and caregivers can help protect more vulnerable children by vaccinating both the children and themselves. 

Take steps TODAY to help your child care program prepare 
  1. Get your flu vaccine NOW. Encourage all staff, children, and parents to get the flu vaccine. Everyone needs a flu vaccine each year! Next year, plan to have the vaccine by October.
  2. Examine and revise your program's written plan for seasonal flu
  3. Invite a pediatrician or child care health consultant to provide influenza prevention education to your staff. 
  4. Use CDC posters and handouts to educate caregivers and staff about proper hand hygiene and cough/sneeze etiquette. 
  5. Update family contact information and child records, so parents can be reached quickly if they need to pick up their sick child. 
Plan ahead to prevent the spread of germs. Policies in child care programs can limit the spread of the influenza and should focus on encouraging vaccination and implementation of everyday preventive actions like good respiratory etiquette, hand washing, cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting; and excluding children and caregivers who have respiratory symptoms (cough, runny nose, or sore throat) and fever. The child can return to the center when the fever has resolved (without the use of fever-reducing medicine), the child is able to participate in normal activities, and staff can care for the child without compromising their ability to care for the other children in the group.

Pennsylvania Launches Website to Help Seniors and People with Disabilities Find Services Near Home 

A new website, Pennsylvania Link to Community Care, connects older Pennsylvanians and individuals with a disability or behavioral health need to services and supports available in their community. The Pennsylvania Link to Community Care website provides users with a wide variety of resources including a home care directory and an information referral tool. The site features 12 service and support categories: Advocacy, Behavioral Health, Employment, Finance, Health Care, housing, In-Home Services, Legal, Meals, Protection from Abuse, Support Groups, and Transportation. Grandparents raising their grandchildren can also find resources, including information for the Special Kids Network, PA Department of Human Services, ASERT (The Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative) and others.

January 9: NFSN Farm to ECE Quarterly Webinar: Placing Equity at the Center of Farm to Early Care and Education 

At the intersection of multiple sectors, including policy, education, food systems and social justice, farm to early care and education (farm to ECE) can be a platform for advancing racial and social equity. Access to farm to ECE opportunities may be one approach to addressing health and education inequities by increasing access to healthy, local foods and high-quality education opportunities for children and communities while promoting ECE policies that address inequity. Farm to ECE can, at the same time, address inequities in the food system by changing ECE purchasing practices and policies. Join the National Farm to School Network, the Policy Equity Group, the Food Trust, and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems to learn how these organizations are both evaluating internal structures and practices to prioritize equity and working towards programs and policies that place equity at the center of farm to ECE initiatives. Register here.

National Child Nutrition Conference Scholarship 
Application deadline January 24

Need help getting to the National Child Nutrition Conference in San Antonio, April 19-21, 2018? The National Child Nutrition Foundation offers more than $20,000 in scholarship to attend the conference. Scholarships cover registration fees and hotel with $300 funds to go towards travel expenses. The scholarship application for the 2018 National Child Nutrition Conference is open through Wednesday January 24, 2018 for the event in April. Scholarships are available in all the following categories: CACFP Sponsoring Agency, Head Start, School District, Food Bank, Tribal Nation, At-Risk/Afterschool, Summer Food, Child Care Center/Home Provider. Click here to apply

Register Now for the May 9-10, 2018 Social and Emotional Learning Conference 

Registration is now open for the 2018 Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Conference: Building Skills for Lifelong Success, to be held May 9 - 10, 2018 in Harrisburg, PA. This conference is designed to provide quality professional development opportunities for school administrators, teachers, school psychologists, school counselors, social workers, youth development workers, early childhood professionals, student support specialists, staff who serve on SAP teams, alternative education teachers, homeless liaisons, foster care points of contact and other professionals who work on behalf of children and youth. Click here to register.
Trends and Reports

Building Workforce Skills in Afterschool 

A recent brief, Building Workforce Skills in afterschool, from the Afterschool Alliance highlights how afterschool and summer learning programs are helping to close the gaps that exist between the skills and competencies students possess and the needs of employers, which range from communication and problem-solving skills to proficient technical skills. Afterschool programs are also connecting students to the workforce in other ways, such as helping them discover new interests and professions they may never have considered entering into and providing real-world work opportunities to help them to reach their career aspirations.

Profiles in Adverse Childhood Experiences 

A National and Across-State Profile on Adverse Childhood Experiences, an analysis conducted by the Child & Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative based on new data from the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health, show that 20 percent of children have had more than one Adverse Childhood Experience. These traumas, such as the death or incarceration of a parent, witnessing or being a victim of violence, or living with someone who has been suicidal or had a drug or alcohol problem, have long term impacts on children's health.

Why Schools Over-Discipline Children with Disabilities 

While ability diversity is not a predominant factor in preschool suspension and expulsion, things change when children enter elementary school. A report by UCLA's Civil Rights Project found that just over 5% of elementary-school children with disabilities were suspended during the 2011-12 school year, more than double the overall suspension rate. This article offers interesting perspectives on these troubling trends. 

homevisitsHome Visits Can Counteract Implicit Bias in Both Parents and Teachers 

A new research study, Mindset Shifts and Parent Teacher Home Visits, finds that the model employed by the Parent Teacher Home Visit (PTHV) program can support mindset shifts in ways that improve partnerships between educators and families and that are supportive of student success. Researchers observed that implicit biases may be "human" but they are not un-changeable.

CPQ Communications Toolkit helps with evidence-based responses

A new, free online resource from CEELO can help early education administrators and advocates communicate the value of high-quality early learning as a public investment. The new Cost of Preschool Quality (CPQ) Communications Toolkit provides evidence-based responses for common questions about early learning expenses, along with definitions of key quality indicators, and succinct explanations of costs and benefits supported by quotes from national experts. CEELO designed the CPQ Communications Toolkit to help users take their cost and revenue data -- either your own or data produced using CEELO's CPQ estimator -- and present it using a variety of different communication formats. 

Infographic: Many Preschool Suspensions Are the Result of Adult Behaviors 

Now available is the new resources from FPG's Committee on Race, Culture, and Ethnicity, a look at how implicit racial biases affect African American students--especially boys. The infographic from FPG's Race, Culture, and Ethnicity Committee is the second in a public awareness series that addreses racial inequity.

High Five - 5 Questions to Ask When Visiting an Early Learning Center 

The American Psychological Association's Center for Psychology in Schools and Education has available a new resource for families, High Five, that includes a downloadable brochure with five questions families should ask when visiting an early learning center, the science behind the High Five Model, and additional early childhood resources.  Also available is the Early Learning Guidelines (ELG) Educator Toolkit which may be useful to promote to child care, early education and Head Start organizations. The AAP's Quality Checklist for Choosing Child Care and other resources within the AAP Healthy Child Care pages detail what to observe related to safety of the facility, practices to prevent harm and promote physical, nutritional, oral as well as social-emotional health.

CulturalresponsiveDeveloping Culturally Responsive Approaches to Serving Diverse
Populations: A Resource Guide for Community-Based Organizations 

As communities become more culturally and linguistically diverse, community-based service organizations (CBOs) are called to do more to reduce disparities in access and use of important social services. An important strategy is developing cultural competency-behaviors, attitudes, and policies that enable CBOs to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. The resource guide, Developing Culturally Responsive Approaches to Serving Diverse Populations: A Resource Guide for Community-Based Organizations from the National Reseach Center on Hispanic Children & Families identifies easily accessible resources on cultural competency that CBOs can use to become more responsive to the needs of their targeted populations, and to help attract funds to support their important work.

Supporting Kids of Incarcerated Parents 

In the United States, more than 5 million children - 1 in 14 - have incarcerated parents. As a result, coping with the effects of having an incarcerated parent is a major part of many children's lives. Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, the Dorothy A. O'Brien Professor of Human Ecology at UW-Madison, believes interventions with children of incarcerated parents and their caregivers can buffer stress and promote resilience in children. This article from the Center for Healthy Minds shares tips and resources for supporting children whose parent is incarcerated.

Get Active: Be Healthy Afterschool Toolkit 

The Afterschool Alliance has teamed up with Quaker® Oats to create the Get Active: Be Healthy Afterschool Toolkit.  The guide provides creative, easy-to-implement ideas for incorporating health and wellness into afterschool programs, including lesson plans, activities and games. 

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The Pennsylvania Early Childhood Education News is a project of the Pennsylvania Build Initiative and the Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Human Services to inform early learning professionals, the early childhood community, policymakers, community leaders and the public on developments in early childhood education and care in Pennsylvania.

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