Policy Resource

Pennsylvania Takes on the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge

Feb 9, 2016

Family Engagement, Professional Devleopment, Regulations & Standards resource information on state policies and initiatives that impact infants, toddlers and their families

In December, 2013, Pennsylvania became one of the six newest states to receive a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant. Through this grant, the state is directing substantial resources to support several early childhood policy priorities: Innovation Grants, Early Learning Guidelines, Career Lattices and Family Support.

In the 2014 annual performance report released in July 2015 for Pennsylvania Race to the Top “ Early Learning Challenge the following progress was reported: Innovation Grants “ Part of Pennsylvanias RTT ELC plan is to Pennsylvania will use a competitive process to award 50 Early Childhood Education Community Innovation grants to communities that have will work at the local level to support the goals of the state plan. Completed a self-assessment and agree to focus on early childhood education and school linkages, family engagement, and community connections. As of the end of 2014, 12 Early Childhood Education Community Innovation Zone (CIZ) Grants have been awarded. Grants make it possible for communities to assess their challenges to children being successful in school, receive targeted technical assistance and implement test strategies that address identified challenges.

Early Learning Guidelines: While Pennsylvanias Early Learning Guidelines (ELG) already included infants and toddlers, the state revised its ELG in 2014 to ensure they are developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate. Highlights of the 2014 Infant/Toddler revisions include: A crosswalk of Early Learning Partnership Standards between Head Start Parent, Family and Community Engagement Framework, PTA National Standards for Family-School Partnerships® and the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework„ ; The addition of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Supportive Practices; and intentional use of language for all audience types (center and home based child care, early intervention, home visiting, Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts, and Head Start). Additionally, the state has plans to widely disseminate its ELG to parents and professionals to ensure they are used to support young childrens healthy development.

Career Lattices: Pennsylvania’s revised Workforce Knowledge and Competency Framework, known as the Pennsylvania Core Knowledge Competencies (CKC) or Early Childhood and School-Age Professionals (CKCs), was released in 2014. The revision is more inclusive of all early learning program settings and reflects the revised learning standards and current research on best practice. The Pennsylvania Big Ideas Framework and Individual Professional Development Plan for Early Childhood and School-Age Professionals is a companion document to the CKCs.

Family Support highlights include: Each of the 12 grantees awarded in 2014 are implementing unique strategies to engage families, such as training parents to become leadership trainers for other parents and expanding a technology that allows children to send texts and photos to their parents while in preschool. As a support to our family engagement strategy, a full time family engagement consultant has been hired to provide technical assistance and ongoing support to the CIZs. A Family Engagement Summit was held in October of 2014 with 200 attendees. Additionally, Pennsylvania has initiatives to help parents understand their childrens development and how they can support it. The state plans to update and improve its Early Learning Guiding Parents Smoothly (GPS) website for parents of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The GPS is an interactive tool that helps families understand what they can do to help their young children learn and grow.

Learn more about Pennsylvanias Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant from their 2014 Annual Report at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-earlylearningchallenge/2014apr/paapr2014.pdf

Learn more about Pennsylvania and how other states are using RTT-ELC funds to strengthen their early childhood systems in ZERO TO THREEs paper, Meeting the Challenge: How the Newest Early Learning Challenge Grantees Can Meet the Needs of Infants and Toddlers found at http://www.zerotothree.org/public-policy/state-community-policy/elc-grantees-2014.pdf

Updated February 2016

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