Since December 1989, the PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (PA AAP) has operated the Early Childhood Education Linkage System (ECELS). The mission of ECELS is to improve the quality of early childhood education and school age child care programs. In 1995 the federal government launched state-by-state Healthy Child Care America programs. These were modeled, in part, on ECELS. Since then, the full name of the program has been “ECELS-Healthy Child Care Pennsylvania.”
ECELS provides professional development and technical assistance about health and safety in child care. Much of our work is focused in Pennsylvania. In addition, we share resources with colleagues in other states and countries. We link quality improvement efforts of government, early childhood educators, health professionals, and other organizations. State, federal and private foundation grants as well as the work of volunteers have sustained ECELS for more than two decades. In addition to the generous volunteer contributions, current sources of funding for ECELS include the PA Key through the PA Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning, the PA Department of Health, and fee-for-service revenue for provision of workshops and review of self-learning modules for state-authorized professional development credit.
ECELS provides technical assistance to instructors, coaches, technical assistance staff and child care health consultants. Professional development modules and workshops are available on a fee-for-service basis. On the ECELS website there are tools to help programs meet Keystone STARS Standards. For example, the Care Plan for a Child with Special Needs and Model Child Care Health Policies. Model Child Care Health Policies has fill-in-the-blank adaptable policies programs can use.
ECELS recruits and mentors health professionals to work as child care health consultants. Then, ECELS supports these child care health consultants as they provide advice and professional development services to improve health and safety practices in child care programs that serve infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school age children.