Pennsylvania's Promise for Children  
Early Childhood Education Newsletter


Welcome to BUILD ECE News

August 31, 2011 

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) promotes opportunities
for all Pennsylvania children and families by building systems and providing supports
that help ensure access to high quality child and family services.


OCDEL in Action 

Checklist aids child care practitioners in prevention of childhood obesity

Early Care and Education practitioners have the powerful opportunity to foster healthy choices that could help prevent childhood obesity. A checklist produced by Let's Move Child Care website is now available which shares recommendations for infants, toddlers and preschoolers within the Early Care and Education setting regarding:

  • Physical Activity;
  • Screen Time;
  • Food Served;
  • Beverages Served; and
  • Infant Feeding

Practitioners can sign up at the Let's Move Child Care website and complete the online checklist. Once complete, they will receive a customized Action Plan designed exclusively for their program that can be used to help reach targeted goals. 

For more information, please contact Maryann Olley at


More OCDEL in Action


Trends and Reports

Annie E. Casey Foundation Releases 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book

The recent release of the 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book by the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds that over the past decade, the economic well-being of low-income children has returned to the same level as the early 1990s.

According to the foundation's annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, the official child poverty rate — a conservative measure of economic hardship — increased some 18 percent from 2000 to 2009, which means the number of children living in poverty grew by 2.4 million during the decade.

While the Data Book found that five of the ten indicators of child well-being have improved since 2000 — including infant mortality rate, child death rate, teen death rate, teen birth rate, and the percentage of teens not in school and not high school graduates — three areas saw declines, including the percentage of babies born underweight, the child poverty rate, and the percentage of children living in single-parent families.  

Although Pennsylvania improved in overall rank of 23 in 2010, to that of 20 in 2011, there are key indicators which show that Pennsylvania children are at similar or increased risk as in the prior years in areas such as infant mortality, child deaths, and the immunization percentage of two-year olds.

Based on the report's findings, the Casey Foundation recommends six strategies it believes can move the nation's low-income families onto the path for prosperity:

  • Strengthening and modernizing unemployment insurance and promoting foreclosure prevention and remediation efforts;
  • Preserving and strengthening existing programs that supplement poverty-level wages, offset the high cost of child care, and provide health insurance coverage for parents and children;
  • Promoting savings and asset protection and helping families gain financial knowledge skills;
  • Promoting responsible parenthood and ensuring that mothers-to-be receive prenatal care;
  • Ensuring that children are developmentally ready to succeed in school; and
  • Promoting reading proficiency by the end of third grade.

To view the full report, or Pennsylvania specific information, visit the Annie E. Casey  Foundation website. For information about Pennsylvania early education programs that promote children’s development and help prepare them for kindergarten, visit the PA's Promise for Children website. 


Strategies to encourage strong support systems for young children's mental health

The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) recently released the report, Building Strong Systems of Support for Young Children’s Mental Health, Key Strategies for States and a Planning Tool which describes key strategies for creating a comprehensive system of supports for young children’s mental health and provides examples from states using these strategies. 

Young children with mental health problems miss out on developmental experiences that promote early learning. The behavior problems of some children result in actual expulsion from early care and education settings. For other children, mental health problems and challenging behavior may limit positive engagement in learning by contributing to conflictual relationships with teachers and classmates.  Young children experiencing sadness or anxiety may find it hard to fully participate in growth-promoting play and learning activities, for example. At home, young children with problem behaviors may be caught in a cycle of negative interactions with parents that disrupt a nurturing parent-child relationship and further limit support for the child’s healthy development.

These strategies provided within the report include:

  • Promoting early childhood mental health (ECMH) in home visiting and parenting programs;
  • Enhancing supports for ECMH in early care and education programs;
    screening parents for depression;
  • Screening children for social-emotional problems;
  • Developing a better-trained workforce to address the social-emotional needs of young children;
  • Using evidence-based practices and evaluation to promote effective ECMH programs; and
  • Supporting the well-being of exceptionally vulnerable children.

Also included is a tool that state planners can use to assess progress and plan steps toward building a strong system of early childhood mental health supports.

To view the entire report, please visit the NCCP website.  For information about early childhood mental health supports in Pennsylvania, please visit the PA Key website. 


More Trends and Reports


In The News

Goal is to ensure academic success even before school year begins

A recent article in the Williamsport Sun Gazette highlights the importance of education starting long before a child enters the doors of elementary school to ensure academic success.

Laurie Welch, family living educator for the Penn State Cooperative Extension in Clinton County conducted a school readiness survey last year in collaboration with the Clinton County Early Care and Education Initiative and found that many kids are lacking the necessary skills such as fine motor development skills, attentiveness and social adaptation skills necessary to successfully navigate kindergarten.

Initiatives led by the Local Education and Resource Network (LEARN) Team aim to fill the gaps between early childhood education and kindergarten. The LEARN Transition Team implemented a number of initiatives last year to improve the transition to kindergarten for local students thanks to a grant from the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL).

Read the entire article at the Williamsport Sun Gazette website.


Success Starts With Family Engagement

In a recent news article, Earl Martin Phalen, CEO of Reach Out and Read, shares the connection between an engaged family and a child's success through his personal story of how the support from an engaged family moved him from the foster care system, to a student at Harvard Law School.

We are in an academic crisis in our nation. Fewer minorities are graduating on time and many are starting school significantly behind their peers. Studies have found that only 30% of African American children enter kindergarten with basic language skills (i.e. recognizing letters of the alphabet).

One of the keys to increasing academic achievement is parental and family engagement.

To read the entire article, please visit the Huffington Post website.


In the Community

Children invited to submit artwork for display at area museum

Deadline:  September 16

Five county Local Education and Resource Network (LEARN) Teams have partnered with the Please Touch Museum to promote quality early learning during October's PA's Promise for Children Month through the event Art and Play for Everyday. This event will highlight the importance of art and play in early childhood learning environments. 

The LEARN Teams from Delaware, Bucks, Philadelphia, Montgomery and Chester counties invite children from these counties to submit artwork representing how they play.  Artwork can be a painting, collage or drawing.  Deadline for submitting artwork is Friday, September 16, 2011.  Selected artwork will be displayed at Please Touch Museum from October 1-12.  A limited number of works will be selected and the selected student-artists will be given one complimentary admission ticket to Please Touch Museum.

An invitation to the art opening weekend on October 1-2 is extended to all.  Tickets may be purchased online to receive a discount on admission to Please Touch Museum by entering a county specific promo code.

For additional information about the guidelines for submitting artwork, promo codes for ordering tickets and partner information, please see the Art and Play for Everyday announcement.


Publicize your local PA’s Promise month events online
If you are hosting a children’s fair, teacher appreciation event, open house, celebrity reading or other event to celebrate Pennsylvania’s Promise for Children Month in October, please submit to the PA’s Promise for Children website. Your event will be posted on your county’s page and in the PA’s Promise Month’s section of the website.

For more ideas on how to celebrate PA’s Promise month, please visit PA's Promse for Children website, or contact your local LEARN Team.

Into Action

Bureau of Family Health, Pennsylvania Department of Health invites applicants for Parent Advisor


Funding Opportunities

Whole Kids Foundation, Grant Program to Support School Gardens.  Deadline December 31


Employment Opportunities

Child Care Consultants, Inc., Executive Director/Director of the South Central Regional Key, York

Community Services for Children, various positions available, Allentown and Lehigh Valley



ECELS Online Self-Learning Modules- Free Offer for PA Early Learning and School Age Practitioners

CDA Renewal News:  Options for replacing the 4.5 CEU’s/3 credit course

New PD Videos from the Results Matter Video Project:

Blog Kids' Planning Toolbox highlights efforts to promote youth participation in local planning projects

Impact: Feature Issue on Supporting the Social Well-Being of Children and Youth with Disabilities

New helps teacher connection with families and students

NIEER Video:  Growing and Learning in Preschool shows the essential features of a high-quality preschool program


One Family's Story

My husband and I chose to enroll our child, Aaron, at the BCIU Learning Center at the Education Centre because of their STAR 3 status and because they were willing to meet the needs of my child.  Since his transition into the new classroom, we can tell that Aaron is truly happy when his face lights up upon seeing the staff and children in the classroom.

Erica F. Berks County

Discover the experiences of other Pennsylvania families on PA Promise for Children  


 PA Promise for Children on Facebook 

 Become a fan of PA Promise for Children on Facebook and get up-to-date information on how to help Pennsylvania children reach their promise!


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Through December:  Child Care Health Advocate Course, Online, Northampton Community College
September 12-14:  19th Annual Licensing Seminar Forging Bonds: The Power of Partnerships in Licensing, Pittsburgh
September 24:  Lancaster Area Association for the Education of Young Children (LAAEYC) A Great Place to Grow Conference, Lancaster .
September 26:  Duty to Care II Conference, Scranton
September 28-30:  Facing the Challenge Train-the-Trainer Session, Villanova.
October:  Pennsylvania Promise for Children Month, Statewide 
Beginning October:  Competence and Confidence Partners in Policymaking for Families of Children in Early Intervention, Temple University
October 10:  Fifth Annual Professional Development Day, Early Care & Education...It's Everyone's Business, Bethlehem .
October 10:  2011 Babies from the NICU Conference, Pittsburgh
October 15:  Keystone STARS Essentials Professional Development Day, Butler
October 15: 17th Annual Awareness Walk, Three Rivers Dash for Down Syndrome, Pittsburgh
November 6-8:  PEAC's 1st Annual Inclusion Conference, It's More Than Access, Philadelphia
November 11-12:  Pennsylvania School Age Child Care Alliance Networking:  Communicating with a Strong Voice Conference, Harrisburg
November 17-19:  27th Annual International Conference on Young Children with Special Needs and Their Families, Maryland 
November 19:  Keystone STARS Essentials Professional Development Day, Edinboro
November 19:  Rock, Rhyme, Read and Write with Dr. Jean, Schnecksville
November 30 - December 2:  Early Childhood Education Summit, State College
14, 2012:  Keystone STARS Essentials Professional Development Day, Indiana 



Visit Quality Early Learning in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Department of Education

Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare

Pennsylvania Keys to Quality 

Pennsylvania's Promise for Children



The Early Childhood Education E-Newsletter is a project of the Pennsylvania Build Initiative, Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Public Welfare 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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