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    May 2024 Edition

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    Early Childhood Education in Pennsylvania



    Shapiro Administration Celebrates Third Annual Early Childhood Education Equity Champion Award Winners During Month of the Young Child


    On Wednesday, April 24, 2024, Secretary for the Department of Human Services (DHS), Dr. Val Arkoosh, and Secretary for the Department of Education (PDE), Dr. Khalid N. Mumin, celebrated the Third Annual Equity in Early Childhood Education (ECE) Champion Awards with recipients from across the Commonwealth in the Capitol Rotunda. More than 35 award recipients, including individual professionals and exemplary programs, were awarded based on their ability to enhance equitable practices within their program as part of providing quality services for children and families, promoting strong starts and life-long benefits of education for all children. Read more and see photos and videos from the event.



    Share with Families: Lifting Family Voices Through Storytelling Workshop


    Are you a maternal or early childhood professional working with pregnant or parenting families of children ages birth to five in Pennsylvania?


    Are you a professional that supports other professionals who work with pregnant or parenting families of children ages birth to five in Pennsylvania?


    Please support the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) in recruiting pregnant and parenting families of children birth to age five receiving any maternal and/or early childhood services in Pennsylvania for the Lifting Family Voices through Storytelling workshop on May 23, 2024, 8:30 am – 4pm in Harrisburg, PA. This workshop will focus on supporting families to develop their family story to make an impact.


    Honorarium and reimbursement for childcare and travel expenses such as lodging and mileage within guidelines will be provided.


    Registration is due by May 3, 2024. Seats are limited and will be provided on a first come first serve basis. See the flyer for more details. Registration link can be found here.

    For questions, please contact Sadia Batool at c-sabatool@pa.gov.




    Mark Your Calendars: ECE Summit will be In-Person in October 2024


    The annual Pennsylvania Early Childhood Education Summit will be back in-person for 2024 at the Penn Stater Conference Center in State College. Summit will run Monday and Tuesday, October 28 & 29, 2024. Questions about Summit or suggestions for Keynotes can be sent to info@earlychildhoodsummit.org




    Register Now for the Final CDA Office Hours!


    There is still time to register for the final virtual CDA Office Hour event for CDA candidates. Office Hours is a place to bring questions about requirements and completion about the CDA in Pennsylvania. Participation is free, but registration is required. Register for May 14, 2024, 1-2 PM session. Questions can be directed to Rebecca Lamar at reblam@pakeys.org.




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    Of Interest


    Pennsylvania Culinary Training Workshops for Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Sponsors


    The Pennsylvania Department of Education, through Penn State (Project PA) is offering six hands-on Culinary Training Workshops for CACFP and SFSP sponsors led by Chef Bill Scepansky, Smart Partners LLC. These ½-day workshops will focus on the most fundamental culinary techniques and practices to help CACFP and SFSP sponsors prepare and present healthy food options that participants enjoy. These sessions will focus on Pennsylvania Harvest of the Month (PA HOM). Participants will receive PA HOM signage for use in their facilities. The sessions will include both demonstration and hands-on activities. CACFP participation is a requirement for participation. Registration is free. Space at these sessions is limited. Registration is first-come, first-served. Learn more.




    iLookout's No-Cost Mandated Reporter Training


    The Penn State College of Medicine invites early childhood educators, their staff, and colleagues to meet Mandated Reporter Training requirements (at no cost) by completing iLookOut’s online, interactive, story-based training. The iLookOut Training can be completed over multiple sessions on a smartphone, tablet, or computer, and has two parts:    


    1. Mandated Reporter Training: interactive video-based storyline (three hours total)   
    2. Advanced Training: 5-12-minute animated micro-learning exercises (three hours total) 


    Those completing both iLookOut Trainings will:   

    • Satisfy Act 31mandated reporter training requirements 
    • Satisfy Act 126 requirements for Pennsylvania teachers
    • Receive six hours of early childhood Professional Development credit (free of charge) 
    • Learn about how to support at-risk children and their families 
    • Help determine the most effective way to prepare mandated reporters 
    • Receive a $15 gift card to thanks for completing both trainings, and a post-training check-in 


    Unlike other mandated reporter trainings, iLookOut:     

    • Has been shown in published research to improve knowledge and change attitudes about child abuse and its reporting  
    • Uses a video-based storyline and gamification       
    • Is the official mandated reporter training for Head Start programs nationwide 


    To start the training, click here.


    Participants may participate in this study even if they have previously completed either iLookOut or another mandated reporter training. To share this training opportunity with other early childhood providers, please forward this information.  


    This opportunity is part of a research study to determine how best to prepare child care professionals to protect at-risk children and support them and their families. To learn more about this research, click here. Those with questions can contact the iLookOut team at 717-531-4552 or ilookout@pennstatehealth.psu.edu.




    Invitation to Submit Proposal to Present at 2024 Early Childhood Education Summit


    The Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA) announced the Call for Presenters for the 2024 Early Childhood Education Summit, October 28-29, 2024.


    The in-person Summit will be held at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center in State College, PA. Those interested can submit a proposal for presentations that address the important issues facing Pennsylvania's early childhood education programs and professionals in 2024 and align with the theme, Celebrating Early Learning: Reconnecting, Revisioning, Renewing.


    The online proposal submission system is now open. For more detailed information, please visit the Summit website at earlychildhoodsummit.org and click "Presenters" under the banner. Those with questions or who would like to submit more than one proposal can email info@earlychildhoodsummit.org.




    Research and Reports


    2023 State of the Preschool Yearbook


    Pennsylvania met 6.7 of 10 quality standards benchmarks, according to a recent release of the 2023 State of Preschool Yearbook from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), which provides critical insights into the current landscape of preschool education in America. Ranking measures consider:

    • The percentage of the state’s 4-year-old population enrolled in the state’s preschool program (Access Rankings – 4-Year-Olds) 
    • The percentage of the state’s 3-year-old population enrolled in the state’s preschool program (Access Rankings – 3-Year-Olds) 
    • State expenditures per child enrolled in the program (Resources Rankings – State Spending)
    • All reported expenditures per child enrolled in the program, including local and federal spending as well as state spending (Resources Rankings – All Reported Spending).


    Amidst the challenges of the past few years, state pre-K programs have shown remarkable resilience, with enrollment, spending, and quality standards reaching new highs in 2022-2023. However, there is still much work to be done to ensure equitable access to quality preschool education for every child.




    Poverty Among Hispanic Children in the U.S.


    In a new article for EconoFact, Lisa A. Gennetian (Duke University) and Yiyu Chen (Child Trends) explore factors that shape how Hispanic children experience poverty. These factors—including Hispanic children’s family structures, parental immigration and employment status, and access to safety net programs—may differ from other children living in poverty. The authors argue that a more in-depth understanding of these differences may improve strategies for combatting Latino child poverty.




    Building and Sustaining the Child Care and Early Education Workforce: Knowledge Review Series


    The child care and early education (CCEE) sector grapples with well-documented challenges in recruiting and retaining its workforce, characterized by high turnover rates that strain educators and diminish quality. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these issues. The Building and Sustaining the Child Care and Early Education Workforce (BASE) project delves into the factors driving turnover and assesses initiatives aimed at recruiting and retaining a strong workforce. Five research briefs synthesize knowledge on CCEE workforce retention and turnover. 




    Providing Affordable, Accessible, and High-Quality Child Care


    Center for American Progress logo

    A recent report by the Center for American Progress emphasizes child care's critical role in empowering women's workforce participation. It outlines the systemic challenges in early childhood education and proposes policy solutions to create a supportive framework for families and children. 






    May Family-Friendly Newsletters Now Available


    The May releases of family-friendly newsletters for families and providers of children, ages birth to Kindergarten are now available. The newsletters feature fun early learning activities that align with the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards, resources and information to help families as their child's first and most important teacher.


    Take a look and share with families and friends, then subscribe to get the next release directly into your inbox.




    May Calendar of Activities for Early Learning Professionals: Celebrate Month of the Young Child!


    During May, celebrate Children's Mental Health Awareness Month and spread awareness about the importance of children's mental health and the need for services that support youth. Check out the May Calendar of Activities for Early Learning Professionals with activities and information to help prepare children and their families for school success.




    Safer Alternatives to Bleach


    Did you know there are safer alternatives to bleach for children and staff that are supported by national authorities like Caring for Our Children Appendix K and referenced by OCDEL? Frequent exposure of ECE staff, as well as young children to the health effects of breathing bleach is worrisome and this exposure can irritate skin, eyes and lungs. This flyer from Women for a Healthy Environment and Healthy Childcare Champions provides supports as to why alternatives are safer and what to look for when seeking a safer alternative. 




    Grow It, Try It, Like It!


    Team Nutrition Grow It, Try It, Like It! has a new resource--a garden-themed nutrition education kit with resources for caregivers and activities for children to teach kids how fruits and vegetables are grown. Use the kit to have kids touch, smell, and taste new fruits and vegetables.




    Watch: Videos to Help Preschool Kids Recognize Their Emotions


    The Healthy Minds, Thriving Kids Pre-K Project is a video series, based on mental health research, created to make important mental health skills available to preschool children (age 3 to 5). These videos introduce important ideas, taught the way young children learn best: through entertaining, relatable stories set in a vivid, imaginary world. Each video features a memorable song that reinforces the key messages.


    Watch the complete series with children or students. You can also download the free companion guides that summarize key ideas and include an activity that can help kids practice the skills they’re learning. For older children, explore more free evidence-based video resources for K-12. Each video in the series is available in both English and Spanish.




    2024 Easy to Read Childhood Immunization Schedules


    CDC’s 2024 Easy to Read Childhood Immunization Schedules, or Parent-friendly Schedules, are now available both in English and Spanish:



    Additionally, the recording and slides of the 2024 Updates to the Child/Adolescent and Adult Immunization Schedules Webinar is now live! The webinar recording and slides can be found at Current Issues in Immunization Webinars.




    Bug Buddies: A Book-Based STEAM Adventure


    Get the buzz on insects! In this new, free toolkit from Start with a Book, learn about bug babies and the insect life cycle, take the exoskeleton challenge, build a bug, be a bee, explore biomimicry (and invent a nature-inspired innovation), discover helpful insects and their role in the world, and much more. Bug Buddies combines hands-on activities with great fiction, nonfiction and even poetry, inspiring kids to dig deep into fascinating facts about insects and to think about their role in the world. 




    Helping Families and Staff Find Dental Care


    A flyer from the Pennsylvania Coalition for Oral Health is available in English and Spanish and lists high-level resources in Pennsylvania to help everyone find dental care. 




    Resources from Camille Catlett


    The April resources from Camille Catlett are now available. The April release of Baby Talk features information on five Scientifically Proven Steps for Thriving Infant Development, How Early Infants Understand Humor, and more. The April release of Natural Resources highlights Developmental Assessment for Children Who Are Dual Language Learners, Partnering with Families of Children Who Are Dual Language Learners, and more.