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Early Learning in PA

Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL)


The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning supports families and their children, from prenatal throug h school age, by using data, research and stakeholder guidance to assure high quality services.

 The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) provides families access to high quality services to prepare children for school and life success.
Work effectively, collaboratively, creatively and successfully to ensure that all families have access to high quality programs for their children. Engage stakeholders in actionable ways that provide guidance on programs and policies. Identify and use key data and research to improve policies and practices.
Priority Initiatives
Integrating OCDEL Services    Building Capacity for High-Quality Early Learning Services    Child Care Development Block Grant Reauthorization
Reducing Suspension/Expulsion and Promoting Inclusion in Early Childhood   Keystone STARS Re-visioning Early Childhood Education Workforce Study and Re-visioning


“High quality early childhood education, delivered by trained professionals who understand child development, puts children on the road to success. Making sure children get off to the right start is the right thing to do -- and it pays back."       

—Michelle Powers, Executive Vice President with Crayola                PA Early Learning Investment Commission         

Early Learning Council (ELC)

The Pennsylvania Early Learning Council is composed of a variety of stakeholders, appointed by the Governor.  The purpose of the Council is to plan for the expansion of effective early learning and development services for young children and their families, and make recommendations to ensure the plans are implemented successfully.

ELC Membership List


Improving Early Education Access for Children experiencing homelessness

May 2013:

New policy guidance issued by the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning improves access to early learning opportunities for children under the age of six experiencing homelessness.

This policy sets new standards for interagency collaboration at state and local levels to identify young children experiencing homelessness across service systems and ensure access to quality early learning programs, such as Head Start and Early Intervention.

OCDEL’s guidelines reiterate the federal requirements for supporting students experiencing homelessness, as detailed across federal and state laws such as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

The act, which became law in 1987, ensures that “each child of an individual who is homeless and each youth who is homeless have equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as provided to other children and youth.”

March 2014:

There are an estimated 19,914 children and youth reported to be experiencing homelessness and receiving supportive services through PA's Education for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness Program. Forty-two percent of these children are age six or under, with over 40 percent of the children under the age of five.

The release of the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Bureau of Teaching and Learning, Pennsylvania's Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness Program 2014 Task Force Report includes the findings of the task force and offers 13 recommendations to aid families of children experiencing homelessness.

This report also serves as a valuable resource available to schools and community organizations who are serving students who are homeless. The Department of Education encourages all superintendents, school administrators and teachers to review the report.

To view the report, please visit the PA Department of Education website.

April 2014:

FOCUS on ECMH: Caring for Young Children Who Are Experiencing Homelessness


OCDEL Family Engagement Pilot Project

The following enews editions were provided to the pilot partners during the 2013-2014 OCDEL Family Enagement Pilot Project.


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