Grants support continuous improvement in early learning facility

Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Robert and Maureen Dunham Children’s Learning Center received a Keystone STARS Merit Award and a Keystone STARS Education and Retention Award totaling $43,485 for 2014-15.

Funds from the grants are used for staff development, to buy toys and furniture for the children, accreditation-related expenses, special health and nutrition activities, and family events.

Grant-funded activities include free sessions for the children with Stretch-n-Grow, a local movement and health program, children’s theater productions at the Community Arts Center and various parent education events, such as a fall Welcome Back Night and a Valentine’s Day “Book Bingo.”

Staff development includes attendance by staff members at professional-development conferences, including the Pennsylvania Early Childhood Summit and the annual conference of the Central Susquehanna Association for the Education of Young Children.

Keystone STARS is an initiative of the state Office of Child Development and Early Learning. The intent of the STARS Merit Award is to support continuous quality improvement in early learning and school-age programs by encouraging and supporting staff in developing and sustaining higher levels of quality, strengthening outcomes for children and families and improving school readiness.

To be eligible for the award, facilities must maintain at least a Star 2 designation through the Keystone STARS initiative.

The Children’s Learning Center is a Star 4 facility, the highest recognition level.

The intent of the Keystone STARS Education and Retention Award is to establish a stable workforce of highly qualified staff, reducing turnover and increasing the level of educational attainment of early childhood professionals.

Keystone STARS grants are made from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and the Northeast Regional Key.

The Children’s Learning Center at Penn College serves students, faculty and staff whose children need high-quality, on-campus care and early childhood education while their parents work or attend classes.

The center cares for children ages 12 months to 5 years.

The center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Middle States Commission on Elementary Education.