Through the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), Pennsylvania has created programs that work together to best serve the diverse needs of young children from pre-natal to school-age and their families. Pennsylvania’s early childhood education system provides a quality framework for all early learning programs in the state, both public and private, to help our young children reach their promise. OCDEL programs align their curriculum and activities to Pennsylvania’s Learning Standards for Early Childhood, continue to improve the quality of professionals and programs, and engage families in their children’s growth and development.

> Download a summary of programs (PDF)


OCDEL programs include:

  • Through Child Care Certification, the Department of Human Services regulates family child care homes, group child care, and child care centers to ensure they provide safe child care.
  • Child Care Works provides low-income working families with access to child care, making them more likely to retain employment and be more productive at work.
  • Early Childhood Mental Health is a child-specific consultative model which addresses the social-emotional development of young children within their early care and education (ECE) program.
  • Early Intervention serves young children with disabilities/developmental delays and their families. Early Intervention builds upon the natural learning occurring in a child’s early years and promotes collaboration among parents, service providers, early childhood educators, and others involved in the child’s life.
  • Evidence-Based Home Visiting Family Support Programs have a family-centered focus, strength-based approach that works with both the child and parent.
  • Head Start provides comprehensive early learning services to at-risk children and families, prioritizing enrollment to families at 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level or other categorical eligibility criteria. In addition to educational programming, Head Start offers health/nutrition services, support to families, and a strong parent involvement component.
  • Keystone STARS provides families a tool to gauge the quality of early care and education programs and is proven to increase the quality of child care based on an independent study. Child care and Head Start programs earn a STAR 1 to STAR 4 level by meeting quality standards for teacher qualifications, learning environment, and program management.
  • Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts provides high quality pre-kindergarten education for at-risk three- and four- year olds in Pennsylvania.
  • Through Program Quality Assessment, early learning programs and early learning professionals can gain insight into the practices that may need improvement to reach higher quality levels. Objective observations help early learning programs determine their strengths and where they might make improvements to support high quality practices.
  • Project LAUNCH is a 5-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) implemented by OMHSAS Children’s Bureau, the Department of Health (DOH), in partnership with OCDEL.