HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 31, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Ted Dallas and Department of Education (PDE) Secretary Pedro Rivera announced the launch of a provider tool that connects Pennsylvania families with reliable, high-quality early learning programs - www.findchildcare.pa.gov.
The Wolf Administration is committed to increasing access to high-quality early learning options for all Pennsylvanians. In addition to ensuring parents have access to safe and reliable child care providers while they work, a high priority is placed on improving the quality of early care and education programs for children so they enter kindergarten ready to succeed.
Finding reliable, quality early learning programs is a priority for Pennsylvania's families. In 2016, Pennsylvania has ramped up its efforts to ensure children are safe and healthy in child care programs while making it easier for families to find the right early learning option for them.
"Families consider their child's health and safety a first priority in child care, and we absolutely agree," said Dallas. "In 2016 we increased requirements for our family child care homes to receive pre-service and annual inspections to align with our requirements for group child care homes and child care centers. Since the new requirements were enacted, we have conducted nearly 5,500 inspections. These inspections give us a new opportunity to ensure health and safety regulations are met and help our family child care homes improve quality."
There are more than 500,000 young children in Pennsylvania who need some form of child care. All family child care homes, group child care homes, and child care centers that are certified by DHS are required to post their certificate of compliance prominently so it's easy for families to see. "If you don't see one, ask your child care provider about it," stated Dallas.
"Each child has unique needs; families need easy access to all the early learning options available to them," stated PDE Secretary Pedro Rivera. "In addition to program search, families can learn more about how our programs are regulated and how to support their child's development."
Families can now more easily search for child care/ early learning programs at www.findchildcare.pa.gov. "We heard from families that the previous COMPASS early learning provider search site had a wealth of information, but was hard to find and to navigate," stated Dallas. "We created an easy-to-remember web address and updated the design of the site to be more intuitive and work more like other websites families visit every day." Families can use the site to learn more about the program their child is attending and search for other programs such as home visiting, Keystone STARS, Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and Head Start.
"One of the biggest questions we get from families is if any complaints have been made about a program," stated Dallas. "With our improved site, families can more easily view the inspection history of a program and see the results of any inspections made as a result of a complaint."
The improved site offers a simple zip code search as well as more detailed filters to focus on Keystone STAR levels, hours of operation, and other services available. Families can find a variety of early learning programs such as:
- Evidence-based home-visiting family support programs for pregnant moms and young children;
- Child care, including quality Keystone STARS-rated programs, for services for children from birth – school-age;
- Early Intervention services for children with disabilities or delays;
- Head Start; and
- Pre-kindergarten programs such as Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts.
There are nearly 8,000 certified child care programs in Pennsylvania. Visit www.pacode.com to review child care certification regulations.
For more information, visit www.findchildcare.pa.gov.
Rachel Kostelac, DHS, 717.425.7606
Nicole Reigelman, PDE, 717.783.9802
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Human Services