Are you looking for tips and tools to address the unique challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has created for early childhood education (ECE) programs? The Pennsylvania Key offers a list of resources to help ECE professionals navigate new guidelines and requirements while continuing to prioritize children’s learning, growth, and development. Resources include announcements from the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), webinar recordings, and other key COVID-19 information. Visit the PA Key website to view the resource list.

Staying up to date with immunizations provides the best protection against disease and is essential to health. Some diseases are no longer common in this country because of vaccination. However, if we stopped vaccinating, the few cases we have in the United States could very quickly become tens or hundreds of thousands of cases. Getting vaccinations on time is still important during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is crucial everyone-children, staff and parents, receive their regularly scheduled vaccines.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and guardians should schedule immunization appointments early. Some health care providers may have delays in scheduling and decreased appointment windows. Health care providers are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of patients, families, and staff. Call your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns about scheduled well-child visit, or for immunizations. The Pennsylvania departments of Education, Health, Human Services, and Insurance reminds parents to ensure their children’s immunizations are up to date as part of back-to-school preparations. In the Wolf Administration’s announcement, Importance of Vaccinations and Updated Guidelines for New School Year released 8/10/20, there is a temporary suspension of children’s immunizations requirements that allows children to enter and attend school or an early childhood program for two months without the required immunizations. See the document for full details. 

Early childhood education staff should make immunization a priority. Foster an environment of health with:
   • Immunization tracking
   • Staff education and adult vaccination as needed
   • Parent education

Unvaccinated children are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others. Babies are at high risk since they are too young to be fully vaccinated. Un- and under vaccinated vaccinated people are a threat to children and adults who might not be able to receive certain vaccines because they have cancer or other health conditions. Children who are not up-to-date with vaccines recommended for their age may be excluded from child care and schools if an outbreak occurs.

Some reputable immunization websites to educate staff and parents include:
1. American Academy of Pediatrics - Healthy Children
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 
   o Easy-to-read immunization schedules (in English and Spanish) 
   o Vaccine information for parents 
   o Infant Immunization - Frequently Asked Questions 
3. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center
4. Vaccinate Your Family
5. Flu Vaccine Materials for Early Education/Child Care Staff and Schools 

The American Academy of Pediatrics Parenting website has many COVID-19 resources to support families.  These include: Parenting in a Pandemic; Working and Learning; Getting Outside; Masks for Kids; New Baby Challenges; Disinfectant Safety and Breastfeeding.  

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. As scheduled recognition activities and regular life has shifted due to COVID-19, Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller, in an April 15, 2020 press release, implores all Pennsylvanians to learn signs of potential abuse or neglect. Mandated reporters are encouraged to use the self-service portal on the Keep Kids Safe website, to avoid long hotline wait times. Other Pennsylvanians seeking to report suspect abuse should make the call to ChildLine. DHS’ ChildLine, a 24/7 hotline for reporting concerns of child abuse or neglect, is available 24/7 to anyone wishing to report child abuse and general child well- being concerns at 1-800-932-0313 and at

An excellent resource with pertinent information to support families and care givers is the "2019/2020 Prevention Resource Guide". This entirely online updated guide on the federally supported Child Welfare Information Gateway supports working with parents, caregivers and children to prevent child abuse and neglect. The guide describes protective factors that reduce the risk of child maltreatment, as well as strategies and practices for supporting families.

The “2019/2020 Prevention Resource Guide” is designed to help individuals and organizations in every community strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect. The Resource Guide focuses on protective factors that build on family strengths to foster healthy child and youth development. It can be used along with the Protective Factors in Practice scenarios and the activity calendars to implement prevention strategies in your community. It includes a directory of national organizations. Access resource guides from previous years to learn how prevention strategies have changed over time.

Download a copy of the “2019/2020 Prevention Resource Guide” today. Share “Tip Sheets for Parents and Caregivers” (in English and in Spanish) -– strength-based tip sheets on specific parenting topics such as page 71, “Dealing with Temper Tantrums”. They can be used in discussions or visits with caregivers, and calendars of activities to help programs, parents, and community partners celebrate Child Abuse Prevention Month. 4-22-20

Learn about strategies to manage children with challenging behaviors. Complete ECELS Managing Challenging Behaviors in Young Children Self Learning Module (SLM). This updated online module will help you promote mental health in young children. Explore risk factors for challenging behaviors and use tools to review behaviors related to development. Share resources to help children with challenging behaviors and their families. Identify policies to help prevent suspension and expulsion of children. The per person fee is $15.00 for each module submitted. Addresses Pennsylvania’s Pre-Kindergarten Learning Standards for Early Childhood Standard Areas 16.1-3

To view OCDEL's "Guidance for Child Care Providers Caring for Children of Essential Personnel During COVID-19" 3-25-20 click here.

Use the following to share facts, credible information and updates from the Pennsylvania Department of Health Website

Human coronaviruses are a family of viruses that commonly cause mild to moderate illness like the common cold.  A new human coronavirus, called the 2019 Novel Coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan City, China in December 2019.  Symptoms of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Use these additional credentialed sources to share information and updates with families and staff:

Stay vigilant about infection control practices in your program to reduce spread of all common illnesses. Implement the daily health check recommended in Caring for Our Children Standard

ECELS Webinar - Immunization Strategies for Success in Early Care and Education Programs - January 16, 2020. View the recording and submit the evaluation form for professional development credit.  Click here for details.

Did you know…
ECELS has valuable tools to help you meet the new STARS Standard LM.2.5 Program uses Caring for Our Children to establish policies and practices regarding care plans for children with special needs, asthma, medical needs, food allergies, and medication administration. 

1. Use Model Child Care Health Policies, 5th Ed. form-field version to adapt a policy for your program.  See Section 10-Health Plan, items E, F, and Appendix X - Medication Administration Packet.  Model Child Care Health Policies, 5th Ed. is consistent with Caring for Our Children, 3rd Ed. online (CFOC3).
2. Use the ECELS Care Plan for Children with Special Needs and Process to Enroll documents.  
3. Use the ECELS Self-Learning Module, Children with Medical and Developmental Special Needs, Inclusive Practices to educate staff about caring for children with special needs,  using care plans and making adaptations. (2 hours credit)

If you have questions about these tools, please send an email with your contact information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sign-up on this website to receive E-Mail Alerts from ECELS about news or key new postings on this website. Click on the orange button on the home page to access this function. In addition, child care health consultants have an opportunity to request access to a password-protected site where ECELS is posting lesson plans for qualified instructors. To access this function, select the role "Health Professional, Child Care Health Consultant, Child Care Health Advocate" at the bottom left of the home page, and then click on the button "Health Consultant Registration" for the log-in request.  3/20