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Office of Child Development and Early Learning. Because every child is Pennsylvania’s future. OCDEL Programs. Early Learning Services. Why Early Learning Services?. Helps children reach their promise by promoting quality learning opportunities in the home and in early learning programs.

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office of child development and early learning

Office of Child Developmentand Early Learning

Because every child is Pennsylvania’s future

why early learning services
Why Early Learning Services?
  • Helps children reach their promise by promoting quality learning opportunities in the home and in early learning programs.
  • Helps families reach their promise by partnering with families to promote the healthy development of their child.
  • Quality early learning helps prepare children for success in school and in life.
early learning services at a glance
Early Learning Services at a Glance
  • Develop and implement standards for early learning programs and professionals to improve the quality of early learning for young children.
  • Provide financial supports and technical assistance for programs and professionals to improve quality.
  • Provide family support programs that strengthen families, reduce risk and increase early learning opportunities for children.
  • Provide quality professional development for early learning professionals.
pennsylvania learning standards for early childhood
Pennsylvania Learning Standards for Early Childhood
  • Helps teachers and families work together to promote a child’s development.
  • Provides a continuum of quality learning from birth through school age.
  • Early learning standards available for:
    • Infant/Toddler
    • Pre-kindergarten
    • Kindergarten
    • 1st and 2nd grade
pa early learning standards resources
PA Early Learning Standards Resources
  • Early Learning Standards booklets with pull out posters for classroom
  • Guidance to aligning curriculum and assessment with early learning standards
  • Professional development on using the Early Learning Standards
  • Family Activity Guides: Kindergarten, Here I Come!, Kindergarten, Here I Am!, and Learning is Everywhere
early learning services programs supports
Early Learning Services Programs & Supports


  • Early Learning Network
  • Pennsylvania Early Learning Keys to Quality
  • Pennsylvania Learning Standards for Early Childhood
  • Pennsylvania Promise for Children
  • Standards Aligned System
  • Transition to Kindergarten
  • Programs
  • Family Support Programs
    • Parent-Child Home Program
    • Pennsylvania Children’s Trust Fund
    • Pennsylvania Nurse-Family Partnership
    • Strengthening Families
  • Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program
  • Keystone Babies
  • Keystone STARS
  • Pennsylvania Early Head Start
  • Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts
  • PA-PACT (Formerly Accountability Block Grant)
    • Pre-kindergarten
    • Full-day kindergarten
family support program pennsylvania parent child home program
Family Support Program:Pennsylvania Parent-Child Home Program
  • Home visitors model for parents how to read and play with their children in a way that strengthens verbal interaction and language development, builds a positive parent-child bond and provides a quality learning experience.
  • Home Visitors use carefully chosen books and toys, which families may keep.
  • Visits begin when a child is two years of age and continue for two years.
  • In 2009-2010, 1,324 children in 26 counties were served.
results parent child home program
Results: Parent-Child Home Program
  • The Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) is a nationally-replicated, research-based early literacy and home visitation program for families with infants and toddlers.
  • In 2009-2010, of the 1,324 children served by PCHP:
      • 82 children were referred to Infant-Toddler Early Intervention
          • 49 determined eligible and received services (60%)
      • 61 children were referred to Preschool Early Intervention
          • 36 determined eligible and received services (59%)
family support program pennsylvania children s trust fund ctf
Family Support Program:Pennsylvania Children’s Trust Fund (CTF)
  • Pennsylvania Children’s Trust Fund’s mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect in Pennsylvania through grant funding to community-based organizations for prevention programs.
  • CTF supports program strategies that focus on strengthening families and building protective factors within parents and children in order to prevent child abuse and neglect.
  • During the 2009-2010 grant year that ended October 2010, 17 grantees served approximately 5,430 children, 2,810 parents and 2,200 early childhood education practitioners.
  • Friends of the Children’s Trust Fund was created in March 2007 to expand fundraising efforts and promote awareness of CTF's mission.
family support program pennsylvania nurse family partnership
Family Support Program:Pennsylvania Nurse-Family Partnership
  • Registered nurses work with the expectant mothers to ensure a healthy pregnancy, to engage in activities with the baby that will promote healthy development, and to make plans for the future.
  • Nurses meet with mothers until the child is two years old.
  • Served 40 counties in 2009-2010
  • Over 4,635 families served in 2009-2010
results pennsylvania nurse family partnership
Results: Pennsylvania Nurse-Family Partnership
  • Helps low-income, first-time parents experience healthy pregnancies, learn how to take good care of their babies, and make plans for the future. Services are provided to families prenatally until the child reaches two years of age. Over 4,600 children and families are being served in 2010-2011.
  • Results from three separate randomized-controlled trials of this program indicate:
    • Reduction in child abuse and neglect
    • Reduction in arrests of mothers and fewer arrests and fewer convictions in 15 year olds whose mothers participated in the program
    • Fewer intended subsequent pregnancies and increases in intervals between the first and second births
family support program strengthening families
Family Support Program:Strengthening Families
  • The Strengthening Families framework is based on building protective factors within families to prevent child abuse and neglect.
  • National Strengthening Families involvement is driving the current Children’s Trust Fund grant focus in Pennsylvania. This has led to the creation of a state Strengthening Families Leadership Team and a more systematic incorporation of Strengthening Families language into existing standards and Professional Development.
  • Pennsylvania, through the Strengthening Families Leadership Team, works to sustain and weave the five protective factors into policies, program and practice across child and family service systems.
family support program strengthening families leadership team
Family Support Program:Strengthening Families Leadership Team
  • Offers guidance to state child- and family-serving programs in incorporating the Strengthening Families approach within their work.
  • Accomplishments
    • 2006 – Joined Strengthening Families National Network
    • 2007 – PCAN training in South East Region
    • 2009 – Strengthening Families language in Keystone STARS
    • 2010 – Statewide PDII on Building Protective Factors with Families
    • Next Steps
      • Building Parent Partnerships
      • Infusing Protective Factors into Professional Development
      • Building Collaboration across Systems
head start supplemental assistance program hssap
Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP)
  • Head Start programs can serve additional children through HSSAP:
    • Comprehensive early learning services to children at 130% of FPL or less; and
    • Strong parent involvement and serving the whole child.
  • Encourages partnerships between Head Start and other early learning programs (child care, school districts);
  • Offer half-day or full-day classrooms;
  • 59 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties served; and
  • Over 5,300 three to five year olds participated in 2010-2011.
results head start
Results: Head Start
  • Provides comprehensive services to children living in poverty. Serving approximately 5,632 children through Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP); with more than 36,000 total children being served in Head Start in 2010-2011.
  • In 2009-2010, the percent of children Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP) who consistently demonstrated:
    • Language/literacy skills increased from 15% in Fall to 67% in Spring
    • Numeracy skills increased from 12% in Fall to 64% in Spring
    • Personal and social development skills increased from 23% in Fall to 76% in Spring
keystone babies
Keystone Babies
  • Funding provided through ARRA Stimulus funding to Keystone STAR 3 or 4 providers;
  • Provides addition program enhancements to classrooms of eligible children birth through 3 yrs. who are receiving Child Care Works. Some of the enhancements include increased professional development targeted to staff; more resources; regular health and mental health consultation; and increased expectation for staff qualifications of the teachers.
  • Offers full day/ full year services;
  • 14 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties served;
  • 208 children participated in 21 centers beginning on May 3, 2010; and
  • Current funding provides service though September 2011.
keystone stars
Keystone STARS
  • Promotes continuous quality improvement in early learning and school age environments.
  • Proven to improve the quality of child care programs in PA.
  • Provide families with a tool to gauge the quality of care and early education their child will receive.
  • Over 4,400 child care programs participating in Keystone STARS. (As of June 2010)
  • Over 168,000 children enrolled in STARS programs. (As of June 2010)
keystone stars how it works
Keystone STARS: How it works
  • Builds on the health & safety requirements of certification.
  • Learning Programs enroll at Start with STARS or STAR levels 1-4.
  • Must meet research-based performance standards for:
    • Staff qualifications and professional development;
    • Learning Program (child observation, curriculum, classroom environment);
    • Partnerships with family and community; and
    • Leadership and management (business practices).
how keystone stars works continued
How Keystone STARS works, continued
  • Based on program participation in Child Care Works and the Commonwealth of PA Early Intervention Program, may be eligible for support grants, merit awards and education & retention awards.
  • Monitoring, accountability, and supports conducted through the PA Early Learning Keys to Quality System.
keystone stars how providers can participate
Keystone STARS: How providers can participate
  • Certified or registered child care providers, Head Start programs and PA Pre-K Counts programs may be eligible to participate in Keystone STARS.
  • Standards and application forms available on PA Key website:
  • Submit application to your Regional Key.
  • Regional Key info available at
keystone stars how can families can locate keystone stars programs
Keystone STARS:How can families can locate Keystone STARS programs
  • County Child Care Information Services (CCIS) agencies can provide a listing of programs by STAR levels.
    • Find your local CCIS online at
    • Apply for Child Care Works online at COMPASS
    • Find a provider online at
keystone stars achievements in 2009 2010
Keystone STARS: Achievements in 2009-2010
  • Nearly a quarter (24%) of child care programs in STARS moved up at least one STAR, increasing the quality early learning opportunities for children in their programs.
  • The number of STAR 3 & 4 programs increased by nearly 10%.
  • The Environment Rating Scale (ERS) scores increased, with STAR 4 programs achieving an average overall score of 5.62 (from a 5.48 overall score from 2008-2009).
  • Nearly all (96%) of parents and families in STAR 3 & 4 centers reported high satisfaction with Keystone STARS and their child’s learning.
keystone stars achievements in 2009 2010 continued
Keystone STARS: Achievements in 2009-2010 continued
  • The Family Standards for Keystone STARS were revised by a provider work group in 2009-2010 and published in 2010-2011.
  • All Keystone STAR 3 & 4 providers now record child level authentic assessments in the Early Learning Network.
  • OCDEL issued the Good, Better, Best document as a means of assisting center and group providers on the Continuous Quality Improvement Curriculum.
  • Implemented a Designator Reliability Study to determine the level of consistency between STARS Designator inter-regionally & intra-regionally.
the results
The results
  • The percentage of child care centers participating in Keystone STARS has more than doubled;
results keystone stars
Results: Keystone STARS
  • Serves children from birth – 12, making it possible for child care programs to increase the quality of care and education they provide. Over 170,000 children are being served in 2010-2011.
  • Reversed the negative trend in declining quality in child care, and improved the quality of child care across Pennsylvania, through an independent study.
  • Nearly one-quarter (24%) of Keystone STARS programs moved up at least one STAR level in 2009-2010.
  • More than 65% of preschools who attended Keystone STARS 3 & 4 centers finished the 2009-2010 program year with age-appropriate literacy, numeracy and social skills.
    • The percent of children with age-appropriate scientific thinking skills increased from 28% in Fall to 65% in Spring.
    • The percent of children with age-appropriate mathematical thinking skills increased from 27% in Fall to 64% in Spring.
    • The percent of children with age-appropriate Language and Literacy skills increased from 32% in Fall to 69% in Spring.
    • The percent of children with age-appropriate personal and social development skills increased from 38% in Fall to 74% in Spring.
good better best
Good Better Best 
  • This optional tool will support programs in meeting the targeted standards at a level that is the best fit for them.
  • Understanding the quality continuum of a standard will enable programs to be more focused and specific in quality improvement efforts.
  • Version 2 of the Center and Group Good Better Best will be released in July 2011.
  • Version 1 of the Family Child Care Good Better Best is also scheduled for a July 2011 release date.
keystone stars new award amounts
Keystone STARS: New award amounts
  • Support Grant (FY 10-11)

Note: Top award is for programs enrolling 5% - 25% children in child care receiving Child Care Works subsidy and/or

the Commonwealth of PA’s Early Intervention Program

Bottom award is for programs enrolling 26% - 100% in child care receiving Child Care Works subsidy and/or

the Commonwealth of PA’s Early Intervention Program

keystone stars new award amounts cont d
Keystone STARS: New award amounts, cont’d

Merit Awards (FY 10-11)

* Award 2 additional years with CQI Plan and demonstrated progress

Note: Top award is for programs enrolling 5% - 25% children in child care receiving Child Care Works subsidy and/or

the Commonwealth of PA’s Early Intervention Program

Bottom award is for programs enrolling 26% - 100% in child care receiving Child Care Works subsidy and/or

the Commonwealth of PA’s Early Intervention Program

education and retention awards 10 11
Education and Retention Awards 10/11

Education and Retention awards 10/11 for

highly qualified staff (prorated less than 35 hours per week)

keystone stars subsidy add on
Keystone STARS: Subsidy Add-on
  • Add-On Daily Rate for children receiving Child Care Works Subsidy
  • Source for Add-On Daily Rate is ARRA Funding
keystone stars what s ahead
Keystone STARS: What’s Ahead
  • Increasing access to higher education and continuing professional development. As Keystone STARS programs move up the Keystone STARS ladder, more lead teachers are required to have bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education. Pennsylvania will continue its support of early childhood teachers earning college degrees and certification through initiatives such as the revision of the Early Learning Career Lattice, increase in program-to-program articulation agreements, and Teacher Induction Supports.
  • Promoting best practices and continuous quality improvement. Based on research and years of experience in continuous quality improvement for early learning programs, OCDEL is developing and continues to refine good, better, and best practices for each STARS performance standard.
  • Refining data systems and documenting progress for more children. OCDEL is committed to the continuing development of PELICAN Keys to Quality to include child, family, teacher and classroom data for Keystone STAR 3 and 4 group and family child care homes, and include child outcomes in the Early Learning Network as well.
  • Increased reliability and accountability. Pennsylvania will continue to support consistency in Keystone STARS designations across the state through specialized professional development for Keystone STARS Managers/Specialists and other supports.
pennsylvania early head start
Pennsylvania Early Head Start
  • January 2010, Pennsylvania's Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) became the first state to be awarded an Early Head Start Grant.
  • Early Head Start programs can serve children birth through age 3, as well as pregnant women.
  • Provides comprehensive early learning services to children at 100% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL) or less; and
  • Strong parent involvement and serving the whole child.
  • OCDEL partners with 8 community based providers to offer services to:
    • 40 center based slots with 3 partners;
    • 88 home-based slots with 5 partners.
  • 5 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties served by the OCDEL grant.
  • The OCDEL Early Head Start grant funding is provided via ARRA Stimulus funds through
  • September 2011.
pennsylvania pre k counts
Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts
  • High quality pre-kindergarten education for 3 and 4 year olds in Pennsylvania which is free to economically at-risk families.
  • Full or half-day pre-kindergarten classes in school districts, Head Start, Keystone STARS child care programs with a STAR 3 level or higher, or licensed nursery schools.
pennsylvania pre k counts continued
Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts, continued
  • 153 grantees (lead agencies) with 153 PA Pre-K Counts grantees with 165 early partners participating.
  • Classrooms available in 62 Pennsylvania counties.
  • Focus in enrollment and translating quality design into quality implementation.
  • First and second year results show positive outcomes for children as a result of quality design & implementation.
pennsylvania pre k counts quality standards
Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts: Quality standards
  • Teachers with education in early childhood
  • Small class size (No more than 20 children per teacher & teacher’s aide; however, average class size is 17)
  • Curriculum aligns with PA Early Learning Standards
  • Child assessment and outcomes reporting
  • Program assessment (Environmental Rating Scales)
results pennsylvania pre k counts
Results: Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts
  • Provides at-risk 3 and 4 year olds with a high quality pre-kindergarten educational experience, either for 2.5 hours or five hours a day.
  • In 2010-2011, 11,500 children are being served in 62 counties.
  • Nearly every child (98 percent) showed age-appropriate or emerging age-appropriate proficiency in literacy, numeracy, and social skills after attending the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts program in 2009-2010.


how to enroll in pennsylvania pre k counts
How to enroll in Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts
  • Families with children between ages three until kindergarten who are at risk of school failure due to income (300% FPL) are eligible to apply. Programs can prioritize enrollment based on additional risk factors such as language, special needs, involvement in child protective services or other issues.
  • Enrollment is year-round; children may be placed on waiting lists until an opening becomes available.
  • Contact the program directly to enroll; enrollment contacts are located at
the results continued
The results continued
  • The percentage of school districts offering pre-kindergarten has quadrupled
pennsylvania pact
Pennsylvania Pact
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Education is supporting schools and districts in reaching the goal of 100% proficiency through the establishment of the Pennsylvania Pact (PA-Pact).
  • PA-Pact provides resources for schools and districts to invest in proven practices that will ensure that all students achieve greater academic success.
pennsylvania pact1
Pennsylvania Pact
  • A PA-PACT Consolidated Application for funding that includes:
    • Increase in Basic Education (BEF) Funding
    • Accountability Block Grant (ABG)
    • Education Assistance Program (EAP)
  • 9 High Impact Strategies, three of which are related to early childhood education:
    • Quality Pre-Kindergarten
    • Full-day Kindergarten
    • Reduced Class Size K-3rd Grade
    • 4 additional strategies related to district operation and special education services
pennsylvania pact pre kindergarten
Pennsylvania Pact: Pre-kindergarten
  • Three & four year old children are offered programs from 2.5 to 5 hours a day for a minimum of 180 days.
  • Instructional delivery is based on scientific research and Early Childhood Education best practices.
  • Assessment tools are used to review the environment and children's outcomes for learning.
  • Family-community partnerships and cultural diversity are encouraged.
  • Highly qualified teachers with Early Childhood certification.
  • In 2009-2010, 3,554 children in 33 school districts were enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs through PA PACT funds.
full day kindergarten
Full-day Kindergarten
  • Full-day Kindergarten provides children with at least a 5 hour school day for a minimum of 180 days or 900 hours per year.
  • Studies show that students who attend full-day kindergarten perform significantly better in reading and math achievement at the end of kindergarten and continued to show better performance into first grade.
  • Children benefit from expanded opportunities for learning and teacher-student interaction and can participate in special subjects such as art and physical education and music.
  • In 2009-2010, 80,454 children in Kindergarten participated in full-day Kindergarten programs.
  • Contact your school district to register.
early learning network what is the early learning network eln
Early Learning Network:What is the Early Learning Network (ELN)?
  • The Early Learning Network (ELN) is Pennsylvania’s electronic data system for gathering information on early childhood programs and for studying the development of children in those programs.
  • ELN combines information about the program including the quality and experience of the staff, with information on a family and their child’s development over time. This information is then used to build and maintain high quality early childhood programs.
    • ELN benefits a family, their child, and their child’s teachers or therapists by providing:
    • Information on a child’s development in his/her early childhood program;
    • Information for the teacher to improve classroom instruction;
    • Ideas on how to prepare a child for school; and
    • Strategies to help children who have different kinds of learning needs.
pa keys to quality environment ratings scales ers assessment
PA Keys to Quality Environment Ratings Scales (ERS) Assessment
  • The Environment Ratings Scale (ERS) is a nationally-recognized standard tool to assess the quality of early learning programs participating in Keystone STARS, Head State Supplemental Assistance Program, and Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts.
  • ERS professional development provides ECE practitioners with in-depth understanding of detailed quality indicator expectations in ECE classrooms.
  • Appropriate ERS assessment tools are available for all early childhood settings.
    • Preschools
    • Head Starts
    • Child care centers
    • Before/After school programs
    • Home based child care programs
  • Independent, reliable assessors conduct ERS assessments in a random sample of classrooms.
  • Assessments assure accountability of ECE programs participating in PA QRIS.
  • 1477 classrooms assessed conducted in 2009-2010.
  • 1398 classrooms assessments projected for 2010-2011.
early learning keys to quality
Early Learning Keys to Quality
  • Early Learning Keys to Quality is a system of supports for providers which includes:
    • Professional development opportunities for early childhood and school-age;
    • Independent Environmental Rating Scale (ERS) assessments for early learning and school-age programs; and
    • Community engagement and outreach.
  • Consists of Statewide PA Key and six Regional Keys.
pa keys system regional keys
PA Keys System: Regional Keys
  • Six Regional Keys across Pennsylvania.
  • Implements regional quality improvement plan for professional development.
  • Encourages participation and provide technical assistance for Keystone STARS.
  • Conducts STARS Designation visits.
  • Provides regional professional development opportunities.
  • Access contact info at
regional keys map
Regional Keys Map






South Central

Standards Aligned SystemA comprehensive approach to support student achievementacross the Commonwealth.

For more information, visit or

  • Supporting young children and their families as they transition through the continuum of services and developmental stages in early learning in Pennsylvania.
      • Coordinating early learning systems
      • Promoting positive outcomes for children and families
      • Providing resources for practitioners to meet continuing quality improvement standards
  • Highlight: Formation of Statewide stakeholders workgroup.
2011 2012 highlights state and federal investment in thousands
2011-2012 Highlights: State and Federal Investment (in thousands)

References in Governor’s proposed budget

Listed below are the appropriations by Department and the page number on which you can find these appropriations in the Governor’s budget proposal. The full document is available online at

DPW programs

Early Intervention – E35.9

Child Care Works/ Keystone STARS

- Child Care Services – E35.9

- Child Care Assistance - E35.9

Nurse Family Partnership – E35.9

PDE programs

PA Pre-K Counts - E14.6

Head Start Supplemental - E14.6

Early Intervention - E14.6

(1) FY 2010-11, post-budget freeze

useful links
Useful links
  • Pennsylvania Department of Education –
  • Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare –
  • Pennsylvania Key –
  • Pennsylvania’s Promise for Children –
  • OCDEL Annual Report:
  • Program Reach & Risk Assessment:
  • BUILD ECE News: