Pennsylvania's Promise for Children  
Early Childhood Education Newsletter


Welcome to BUILD ECE News

April 25, 2012 

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

  • Trends and Reports

  • In the News

  • In the Community 


OCDEL In Action

Nearly 200 children recognized as Shining Stars in honor of the Keystone STARS 10th anniversary

Nearly 200 children from 43 counties were nominated by their teachers and family members as Shining Stars thanks in part to quality early education through Keystone STARS.
In honor of the 10th anniversary of Keystone STARS, Pennsylvania’s Promise for Children and Local Education and Resource Network (LEARN) teams are recognizing the achievement of the families, teachers and programs participating in Keystone STARS to helping our young children reach their promise. This spring families and teachers who participate in a Keystone STARS program with a STAR 2-4 rating were invited to nominate children who had been enrolled for at least six months to be recognized as Shining Stars. The children may be currently enrolled or have graduated.

To read the Shining Stars’ stories, visit the Pennsylvania’s Promise for Children website.

Children will be recognized in their communities by their local LEARN teams and are invited to participate in a statewide press event in Harrisburg in May.

Thanks to Keystone STARS, programs that have helped the Shining Stars reach their promise were able to provide education and professional development to their teachers, combine an effective learning curriculum with engaging learning materials to create a solid classroom environment, and receive technical assistance to continue to improve quality.

Since 2002, Keystone STARS has been instrumental in improving quality in child care programs; increasing quality and effectiveness of professional development for early childhood professionals and raising the bar for quality early childhood education in all settings. This quality has resulted in consistent child outcomes for preschoolers in Keystone STAR 3 and 4 centers in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. Less than one in three preschoolers (27%-38%) began the school year in Keystone STAR 3 & 4 programs with age-appropriate skills. By the end of the school year, approximately two in three children (65%-73%) showed age-appropriate language, math and social skills after attending Keystone STARS 3 & 4 programs in 2010-2011.

There are approximately 4,150 Keystone STARS programs serving more than 167,000 children from birth through school-age in Pennsylvania. For more information on Keystone STARS, visit the PA Promise for Children website.


Applications Sought for Keystone STARS Advisory Committee, Deadline May 15

Have you ever wanted to contribute to a nationally recognized Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) System? Are you interested in sharing your expertise in Early Childhood to help shape QRIS policies? Now is your chance!

Applications are currently being accepted for the Keystone STARS Advisory Committee. Committee members shall come from diverse geographic regions of the state and have a range of attributes, collective skills, and experiences that will enable the Committee to achieve its goals. The following is a list of attributes to be considered when suggesting an individual for possible appointment to the Advisory Committee:

  • Academic and/or research experience
  • Program content knowledge and/or experience
  • Experience delivering learning services in different size programs (Center, Group Child Care Home, Family Child Care Home, School Age Child Care)
  • Knowledge and/or expertise working within educational/community settings
  • A variety of programmatic representation (Child Care, Head Start, Early Intervention, School Age Programs, Public School)
  • Mentoring, Technical Assistance or professional development experience
  • Non-Profit or other statewide Committee experience
  • Political/Advocacy experience
  • Strategic partner contacts (Child Care Information Services , Community Engagement, Intermediate Unit, Higher Education, and Licensed Private Academic Nursery Schools, parents, Regional Keys, Pennsylvania Department of Education, Libraries, Association for the Education of Young Children)

Individuals appointed to the STARS Advisory Committee serve a three-year term of service. Terms of service coincide with the start of the state fiscal year in July.

The Committee advises OCDEL about the Keystone STARS program including performance standards, operations and program design. The Advisory Committee membership brings unique knowledge and skills, which complement those key individuals and departmental staff engaged in this work.

Apply prior to the May 15 deadline by submitting an application! Applications can be found on the PA Keys website. For more information regarding the committee member responsibilities, length of service, attributes of committee members, selection and appointment, responsibilities, and compensation restrictions, please visit the PA Key website.


Now available:  Updated PA Position Statements for Environment Rating Scale 

Now available for early learning providers who use the Environment Rating Scales are updated PA Position Statements. The newly revised statements include guidance in response to the release of Caring for Our Children, 3rd Edition (2011), to include:

  • Appropriate use of hand sanitizers
  • When to sanitize and when to disinfect
  • Recipes for bleach and water sanitizing and disinfecting solutions
  • Recommended separation of cribs/cots and safe sleeping guidelines for infants

The PA Position Statements are the result of the need to consider the impact of Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare Certification Regulations and other Pennsylvania program specific expectations on the scoring of the items in the Environment Rating Scales. Input from multiple sources including the ERS scale authors, DPW Certification, OCDEL and other experts were considered in the creation of the statement.

Revised PA Position Statements, effective July 1, 2012, are available on the PA Keys to Quality website.


Trends and Reports

Supporting Our Youngest Children: Early Head Start Programs in 2010

A recent brief released by CLASP analyzes the Head Start Program Information Report (PIR) data, which demonstrates the impact of Early Head Start programs on the health and development of poor children under age 3 and their parents' knowledge and parenting, trends in enrollment, program options, and characteristics of teachers and enrollees. The PIR data captures the growing number of poor children receiving Early Head Start services due to the influx of ARRA funds that greatly expanded the program.

An analysis of the 2009-2010 PIR data shows the following key findings:

  • Early Head Start enrollment saw its largest increase since its inception.
  • Early Head Start families accessed a broad range of services.
  • Most Early Head Start teachers have at minimum an associate degree in ECE or a related field, and nearly half (49 percent) have a bachelor’s or higher.
  • Early Head Start promotes better health for young children.
  • Early Head Start provides services through a variety of program options.
  • Early Head Start supports families with working parents, many with limited formal education.

To view the brief, please visit the CLASP website. To learn more about Head Start in Pennsylvania, please visit the Pennsylvania Head Start Association website. 


New Tools to Help Non-Scientists Understand and Deliver the Brain Science

Understanding the neuroscientific research on the early brain is a critical part of the evidence base for early childhood. Yet it can be difficult to understand and convey this information. ReadyNation, with the collaboration of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, has developed and compiled an array of tools that will enable individuals without a science background to understand and present this evidence to diverse audiences.

One is a heavily annotated PowerPoint presentation that can be delivered in 12-15 minutes. It is available by emailing a request to

The others are four short (3 to 9 minute) videos from the Center on the Developing Child or Invest in US, a project of the First Five Years Fund. Also available is a set of talking points to accompany any of these videos. They can be used on their own, or embedded in a larger presentation.

Also available are the four briefs are available from the Center on the Developing Child, which detail:

   1. The Foundations of Lifelong Health
   2. The Science of Early Childhood Development
   3. The Impact of Early Adversity on Children's Development
   4. Early Childhood Program Effectiveness

To access the PowerPoint presentation and the videos, as well as for additional information, please visit the ReadyNation website.


Preschoolers' reading skills benefit from one modest change by teachers

A study recently released by the Ohio State University recently highlighted how one modest change by teachers can make an impact in a preschooler's future level of word reading, spelling and comprehension skills. That small change involves making specific references to print in books while reading to children – such as pointing out letters and words on the pages, showing capital letters, and showing how you read from left to right and top to bottom on the page.

Preschool children whose teachers used print references during storybook reading showed more advanced reading skills one and even two years later when compared to children whose teachers did not use such references. This is the first study to show causal links between referencing print and later literacy achievement.

To read more information about this study, please visit the Ohio State University website.


More Trends and Reports


In The News 

United Way early education program gives kids best start

In a recent op-ed, written by Bill Jones, the President and CEO of the United Way of Wyoming Valley shares his own experiences with being a parent and the importance of supporting children and their families, which is addressed through the work of the United Way of Wyoming Valley.

Our children deserve the best we can give them. The United Way of Wyoming Valley is proud to be partnering with organizations such as Head Start, Child Development Council, Children’s Service Center, Wyoming Valley Children’s Association, the Catholic Youth Center, the YMCAs, Big Brothers Big Sisters and others to help children from the area’s most at-risk families get a good start in life. We believe all children and their families deserve opportunities to succeed, regardless of any demographic or economic consideration.

The investment in our young children is an investment in our community and is well worth the cost. According to the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning, every $1 spent on high-quality early education saves $7 in reduced future expenditures for special education, delinquency, crime control, welfare and lost taxes.

To read the entire article, please visit the Times Leader website.


In the Community 

Calling all Indiana County residents:  It's time to Speak Up! 
It is time for your voices to be heard regarding your experiences as community members. The Indiana County Department of Human Services, Children and Youth Services, and other members of the Children's Advisory Commission of Indiana County is inviting Indiana County residents to take the 2012 Indiana County Speaks Up! Survey.

The survey will ask you questions about your perception of living in Indiana County and the human services that are available to families. Demographic questions, such as your zip code, number in family, education level, etc., will also be asked, however, the survey is anonymous. Your name will not be asked. Surveys will be collected through midnight June 1, 2012. The final result of this project will be a document with reliable data on community needs.

Indiana County Department of Human Services, Children and Youth Services, and other members of the Children's Advisory Commission of Indiana County are conducting the survey. Previous "Speaks Up" surveys were conducted in 2002 and 2007.

Visit the survey website to provide your input, or call 724-463-8200 x10 to request a hard copy.


Story Time Brings Smiles at Palmer Park Mall

A recent article at the Palmer-Forks Patch website highlights the early learning and literacy outreach by the Local Education and Resource Network (LEARN) Team in Lehigh County.

Over four months, the Local Education and Resource Network (LEARN) is sponsoring story time at the Palmer Park Mall. "This is a showcase of low-cost and no-cost activities," said Jan Schwartz, LEARN's local coordinator. The program is for children up to age 5.

"It's great," said Melanie Rizzardi of Forks Township, who brought her daughter Maggie, 3, to the reading. "Maggie loves stories and lives being read too."

Read the entire article and find out how to participate at the next event by visiting the Palmer-Forks Patch website.


Into Action

Cast your vote for the Children's Book Council's 5th Annual Children's Choice Book Awards



Obesity Prevention in Early Care and Education: A Key Topic Resource List by Research Connections  

April edition of Better Kids Care now available

New Organization, For Our Babies, Promotes Healthy Child Development in the U.S.

Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation's Infant Toddler Temperament Tool in Spanish

New Evidence-Based Infant Sleep Resource from the National Sudden and Unexpected Infant/Child Death and Pregnancy Loss Resource Center and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau


Employment Opportunities

CLASP: Communications Director


Higher Education 

PA educators can earn Director Credential at Lock Haven University


One Family's Story

Working with Anthony through the different stages of developmentally appropriate practices, using the Infant-Toddler Early Learning Standards has been a real pleasure. Seeing Anthony reach each different milestone was exciting for the staff, this was done by learning through play.

A Chester County Keystone STARS early learning program


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



PA Promise for Children on Facebook 

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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! 










April 25: Proclamation Ceremony for Week of the Young Child, Lancaster
April 26: Getting Ready for School Night, Indian Valley Elementary, Lewistown

April 26: Painting for Prevention, PFSA's community-based Child Abuse Prevention Month event, Clarion

April 26: LCCC's Dinner Theater for Paraprofessionals, Allentown

April 26: Free Early Childhood Screenings, Cresco

April 28: A Celebration of Achievements, Washington

April 28: Community Day for Kids, Sunbury

April 28: Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties Month of the Young Child Celebration, Dimock

April 28: Week of the Young Child Celebration & Family Forum, Altoona

April 28: Delaware County Healthy Community Fair, Media

April 30: Family Open House at Lower Southampton Library, Feasterville

May 2: A Celebration of Babies event, Waynesburg

2-3: 2012 Pennsylvania Head Start Conference, Harrisburg
May 7: Parenting Corner: How to Calm a Toddler's Tantrum, Williamsport

May 7-13: Children's Book Week, National

May 9: Susquehanna County CARES LEARN Team Meeting, New Milford

May 9: Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, National

May 11-12: DVAEYC's Annual Conference, Family Matters!  Engaging Families, Partnering for Success, Philadelphia

May 16: PreK-3rd Grade National Work Group webinar: Allies Not Foes: School-Family Partnerships

May 18:
Easter Seals Solutions Inclusive Child Care Training, Aston
21: Engaging School Boards in Early Education: Taking Away the Fear, Allentown
May 25: Early Intervention Night at the Washington Wild Things game, Washington

May 26: Pirates Charities Miracle League of the South Hills Field opening, Upper St. Clair

June 20:  PreK-3rd Grade National Work Group webinar: Not So Simple: Standards and Curricula

June 18-20: Head Start's 11th National Conference, Washington DC
July 15-18: 2012 National Conference for Principals and Child Care Directors, Baltimore, MD
August 11: WITF's Ready, Set, Go…Kindergarten event, Harrisburg

September 19: PreK-3rd Grade National Work Group webinar: Looking Inside Classrooms: Teacher Effectiveness 

September 21-22: 2012 PAEYC & Family Support Conference, Pittsburgh

October 10-12: Facing the Challenge Train-the-Trainer PD event, Villanova

October 18-19: 4th Annual Pennsylvania Infant Mental Health Conference, Pittsburgh

October 22-24: Early Childhood Education Summit, State College

PreK-3rd Grade National Work Group webinar: Using Data to Inform and Improve Instruction: Child Assessment
December 5: PreK-3rd Grade National Work Group webinar: Scale and Sustainability: Implications for State and District Policy



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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