Archive for February, 2014

Tax Deduction Tips for Families

February 24th, 2014
News, PA Counties

As any parent knows, raising children can be expensive. Being aware of what credits taxpayers are eligible for when they become parents can keep from paying more in taxes than what is owed.

Expense for children can be high–according to a “baby-cost” calculator on BabyCenter, parents can expect to spend (more…)

Oil City Partnership encourages physical activity for children

February 18th, 2014
News, Venango County

Northwest Savings Bank, through the Northwest Charitable Foundation, has awarded the Keystone STAR 2 Oil City YMCA Younger Days Preschool Center in Venango County a $5,000 grant to help fund a playground structure to encourage physical activity. (more…)

Pittsburgh School Kindergarten students join Ready Freddy!

February 7th, 2014
Allegheny County

Join Ready Freddy to enroll for Kindergarten in these schools! (more…)

Keeping busy with early learning fun in Washington County!

February 6th, 2014
Stories, Washington County

Since the opening of the newest SmartKids Child Care and Learning Center on Meadowlands Blvd. there has been a flurry of activity and an influx of enrollment!

SmartKids loves making new friends and inviting families to join the SmartKids family each and every day. (more…)

Erie Child Care Center earns Bright Star Award

February 5th, 2014
Erie County, News

Early Connections – West Side, a Keystone STARS Star 4 child care center in Erie, has been selected as a recipient of a “Bright Star” Award for 2013-14, co-sponsored by the Northwest Institute of Research and Clarion University.

Under the direction of Stephanie King, Early Connections – West Side was nominated for its inclusive experience in two classrooms, where children with Individualized Education Plans participate in a high quality early childhood curriculum with “typical” children in the least restrictive environment.

The site was also nominated for its strong partnership with the City of Erie School District and the Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit’s Early Intervention Program, as well as for its voluntary participation in the Pennsylvania Keys to Quality Early Learning’s Family Engagement Pilot Project.

An award presentation has been scheduled for 1:30 pm, Fri., Feb.28 at EC-West Side, located at 420 W.6th St. in Erie.

The Bright Star award is a quality recognition program presented quarterly involving Keystone STARS sites within the 22 counties of the Northwest Regional Key (NWRK). Early learning and school-age programs that demonstrate exemplars of quality are nominated for the award.

The sign(s) of quality must align with one or more of the Ten Pillars of a Good Childhood for 2012-2022, as adopted by the Association for Childhood Education International (  The 10 pillars are as follows:

  • Pillar 1:  Safe places to live and learn, with access to health care, adequate clothing, and nutritious food
  • Pillar 2:  Strong families and consistent, loving caregivers
  • Pillar 3:  Social interactions and friendships
  • Pillar 4:  Creative play and physical activity
  • Pillar 5:  Appreciation and stewardship of the natural environment
  • Pillar 6:  Creative expression through music, dance, drama, and the other arts
  • Pillar 7:  Education that develops the full capacities of the child—cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and ethical
  • Pillar 8:  Supportive, nurturing, child-friendly communities
  • Pillar 9:  Growing independence and decision-making
  • Pillar 10:  Children and young people participating in community life

When a pillar of quality is observed, NWRK staff and consultants submit a nomination in writing to NWIR Leadership. At the end of each quarter the nominations are reviewed by leadership, who vote for the site most deserving.

The exemplars of quality identified at Early Connections – West Side were pillars 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8.

Early Connections-West Side provides a PA Pre-K Counts program for children ages 3 – 4 years Monday through Friday throughout the school year.