Pennsylvania's Promise for Children  
Early Childhood Education Newsletter


Welcome to BUILD ECE News

March 16, 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

Quality in Action:  The Pennsylvania CLASS™  Pilot

The March 2011 edition of the OCDEL Research Brief highlights the findings from the Pennsylvania CLASS™ pilot.  The Classroom Assessment Scoring System™ (CLASS™) is a research-based observation tool, developed at the University of Virginia, to assess the quality of preschool classroom interactions.  The CLASS™ provides a common lens for observing classrooms and has been used by early childhood educators, policymakers, and researchers to measure and improve classroom practices in the areas of emotional, organizational, and instructional support.

The brief contains information specific to:

  • Goals of the Pennsylvania Pilot
  • Training and Reliability
  • Pilot Results
  • Assessor and Provider Feedback
  • National Trends and State QRIS
  • the Future of the CLASS™ in Pennsylvania, including next steps.

A key finding is that Pennsylvania’s pilot of the CLASS™ follows national trends, scoring high to low on emotional support, classroom organization, and instructional support, respectively.  Across all rated items, Keystone STAR 4 classrooms were found to score slightly higher than STAR 3 classrooms. This relationship supports the use of CLASS™ and Keystone STAR ratings as valid measures of program quality.

For additional information, please see the March 2011 OCDEL Research Brief.  To view other briefs, reports, research initiatives and summaries, visit the Office of Child Development and Early Learning Research website.


DWP releases Periodic update on early childhood mental health initiatives in Pennsylvania

Now available is the March 2011 edition of the Periodic update on early childhood mental health initiatives in Pennsylvania which contains highlights of the Parent-Child Interaction Therapy expansion in Pennsylvania, updates on various Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) initiatives, and several new resources for ECMH practitioners. 

This edition also highlights National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day to be observed May 3, 2011. This year's specific focus is on building resilience in young children who have experienced trauma. The Pennsylvania Early Childhood Mental Health Advisory Committee has prepared a one-page factsheet to assist with outreach. More information and resources are available from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.


Pennsylvania Children's Trust Fund RFA now available
Deadline May 10

Children’s Trust Fund RFA #01-11 is now available with the focus of the prevention of child abuse and neglect by providing supportive services to pregnant and parenting teens and young adults that ultimately strengthen families through the use of five protective factors outlined in the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Strengthening Families approach.

A pre-proposal webinar will be held on March 24, 2011 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. for the purpose of answering questions related to this RFA. Please register for the webinar on the Center for Schools and Communities website by March 23, 2011.

For additional information about the Children's Trust fund or the RFP, please visit the Friends of Pennsylvania Children's Trust Fund website.


Gate Opener Project Call for Proposals
Deadline April 11

Four year institutions of higher education are invited to submit a proposal for the Gate Opener Project which address the variety of barriers that early care and education practitioners face in returning to the university setting.

The Gate Opener initiative is a joint project of the Office of Child Development & Early Learning (OCDEL) in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Key and the Grable Foundation, the Heinz Endowments and the William Penn Foundation. This will be the third year of a three year grant and is an annual application.

Please visit the PA Keys website (Gate Opener RFA-Year 3 Now Open) for additional information. A conference call will be held on March 21, 2011 to address any questions submitted prior to the call. To register for the call, or for additional information, please contact Michele Black at 


More OCDEL in Action

Trends and Reports

Investments in Pennsylvania’s early childhood programs pay off now and later

The March 2011 brief, Investments in Pennsylvania’s early childhood programs pay off now and later, released by The PEW Center on the States highlights how early childhood investments are helping Pennsylvania close an educational achievement gap and produce the qualified workers the state and the nation need for a prosperous future.
Highlighted in the brief are the continued improvements in access, quality and accountability that are needed to ensure that Pennsylvania’s children and taxpayers reap the benefits promised by the research on high-quality programs. The brief also includes information that supports the payoffs from early childhood investments, such as:

  • Kindergarten readiness
  • Higher scores on (third grade) Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests
  • Statewide reduction in Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)
  • Lower rates of grade retention and special education

The brief summarizes the long and short term economic returns generated by early childhood education and provides information as to the savings and higher revenues to government budgets, increased earnings to participants’ families and reduced costs to crime victims made by investing in quality early childhood education.

To view the entire brief, please see Investments in Pennsylvania’s early childhood programs pay off now and later.  For additional information about the quality early learning opportunities in Pennsylvania, please visit the PA's Promise for Children website.


Eligibility Policies and Practices for Young Children under Part B of IDEA

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) offers special provisions for states to identify children younger than school age who are eligible for special education and related services. In addition to the disability categories used for school aged students, states may use developmental delay or a term of their choosing for children age three through nine. The paper, Eligibility policies and practices for young children under Part B of IDEA, by Joan Danaher discusses the options available to states and analyzes their current policies.

Highlighted information includes:

  • Disability terminology used for young children
  • Age ranges used by states for developmental delay
  • Eligibility policies and transition

Also included is a table of the eligibility criteria with links to source documents for the states, including Pennsylvania.  For additional information about the Early Intervention Services and Supports for Pennsylvania children, please visit the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Early Intervention webpage, or visit the Parent Information pages of the PA Training & Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN).


Carnegie Report Calls for Coordinated Strategy to Put Talented Teachers in Every School

Ensuring that all students are taught by high-performing teachers requires a coordinated effort among federal, state, and local governments, the community, parents, and education funders, a new report from the Carnegie Corporation of New York argues.  Drawing on previous research supported by Carnegie, the report, The Elusive Talent Strategy: An Excellent Teacher for Every Student in Every School, notes that three to four years with an effective teacher can close persistent achievement gaps among underperforming students. To ensure that every student has access to highly qualified teachers, especially in the lowest-performing schools, the report calls for system-wide changes to boost teacher talent, starting with the teacher applicant pool.

The report outlines a number of strategies for preparing teachers better which include:

  • holding teaching colleges accountable for their graduates' performance and encouraging them to implement urban residency programs and alternative certification processes;
  • hiring top-level graduates;
  • offering incentives for such graduates to work in schools where they are needed most.

The report also recommends supporting teachers and principals with ongoing, on-the-job professional development; using data to assess teacher effectiveness more accurately; and, based on comprehensive, performance-based evaluations, retaining only the best teachers.

More Trends and Reports


In The News

Pennsylvania Communities Kick-off Early Kindergarten Registrations 

It's hard to believe that it's now time to register children for kindergarten! Several communities throughout Pennsylvania are engaging families and the public to promote kindergarten registration.  Enrolling a child now for a fall entry into kindergarten has benefits for the child, the family and the school.  Research indicates that a child and family participating in a variety of school-related activities during the year prior to starting school can make a significant contribution to a child’s feelings of confidence and security about starting kindergarten.  Families may be provided with ways to support their child for entry into kindergarten, and schools are better prepared for incoming students in the fall. Events, such as early kindergarten registrations and school-based open houses, provide excellent opportunities to begin a strong relationship between families and schools.

To discover events in your community, visit the PA Promise for Children website and search for activities in your county, or contact your local Early Childhood Community Engagement Group.




Into Action

SEDL and University of Wisconsin-Madison invite participants in National Effective Study

Nominate your favorite Indiana County Family Friendly Business, Deadline March 22

Nominations accepted for the Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Culturally Responsive Teaching, Deadline June 1

Funding Opportunities

National Council for the Social Studies Defense of Academic Freedom Award, Deadline March 21

Improving Literacy Through School Libraries, Deadline March 28

Video Innovation Lesson Plan Contest, Deadline March 31

Autism Speaks Family Services Community Grant, LOI Deadline April 8

The Kids Trust Grant, Deadline April 15

Libri Foundation: Books for Children Grants, Deadline April 15

Music Is Revolution Foundation Mini-Grants, Deadline April 15

Whitaker Foundation Regional Program grant, Deadline May 6

Educational Seminars Program Grants: Exchanges for Teachers and Administrators, Deadlines Varied

Michael and Susan Dell Foundation Education Grants, Deadline Rolling




LEARNING TO READ: A Guide to Federal Funding for Grade-Level Reading Proficiency

Got 2B Safe! educational safety kit

New Resources from the Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

Employment Opportunities

Director of Education, Acelero Learning Camden/Philadelphia, Inc.

Health & Nutrition Manager, Acelero Learning Camden/Philadelphia, Inc.

Assistant Teacher, Early Head Start, Allentown

Program Coordinator, United Way of Lancaster County


Higher Ed

CORRECTION:  Penn State Offers $12,500 Scholarships for Special Education Master’s and Certification Program  

Shippensburg University PA Early Childhood Director Credential credit program  


One Provider's Story

Keystone STARS has helped Meadville Children’s Center commit itself to the children and families it serves, foster better relationships within the community, and nurture the growth of our future community leaders.

Carrie Dinsmore
Crawford 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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March-April:  Institute for Family Professionals (IFP) Courses, Philadelphia
March 19:  EPLC 2011 Regional Workshop for School Board Candidates, Mechanicsburg
March 22:  Family Policy Summit:  2011-2012 State Budget Presentation, Bethlehem
NEW DATE March 24-27:  Infant Massage Instructor Training, Philadelphia
March 26:  Sounds like fun!  Developing Awareness of Letter Sounds Family Workshop, Quarryville
March 29:  PA One Book, Every Young Child Kick Off event, Harrisburg.
April 1-2:  Infant/Toddler HighScope Curriculum Workshop, Erie
April 2:  Painting for Prevention Collaborative Mural event, Indiana 
April 5:  Family Policy Summit:  Determining an Advocacy Agenda for 2011-2012 , Bethlehem
April 6:  Kick off Child Abuse Prevention Month, Harrisburg
April 9:  Painting for Prevention Collaborative Mural event, York
April 9: Building Strong Home-School Connections Parent Workshop, Quarryville
April 10-16:  Week of the Young Child, Statewide
April 14:  Painting for Prevention Collaborative Mural event, Muncy
April 16:  Best Buddies Friendship Walk, Pittsburgh
Through April 24:  Please Touch Museum AccessABILITY exhibit, Philadelphia
April 28-29:  2011 Meeting the Challenge: Educating Homeless Children in Pennsylvania statewide Conference Valley Forge
May 3:  National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day
May 4-5:  PHSA Spring Conference Standing Strong for Children & Families, Harrisburg
May 5-7: Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC) Early Childhood Conference, Philadelphia
May 24:  Early Intervention Families' Night at The Washington Wild Things, Washington
May 25:  Save the Date:  United Way of Lancaster County’s Success By 6 Early Care and Education Recognition Event featuring Kurt Kondrich, Lancaster
June-August:  Child Care Health Advocate Course, Bethlehem 
July 19-21:  Save the Date:  A Brighter Tomorrow:  Cultivating Infants and Toddlers Social Emotional Development
August 13:  WITF Ready , Set, Go…Kindergarten, Harrisburg
September 28-30:  Facing the Challenge Train-the-Trainer Session, Villanova .
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 30 - December 2:  Early Childhood Education Summit, State College



Visit Quality Early Learning in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Department of Education

Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare

Pennsylvania Key 

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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