Central Regional Key
Purpose – The Central Regional Key works to ensure high-quality early care, education, and school readiness for children and their families through the development and implementation of a system of program quality improvements and professional development supports for early childhood education. The program operates within a 20-county region of Central Pennsylvania.
Vision –All Pennsylvania families will have access to high-quality care and education for their children, fostering successful futures in school and in life.
Program Overview – Regional Keys coordinate and administer the Keystone STARS program, which is intended to improve the quality of early learning and school-age care and education. By meeting standards of practice and professionalism set by the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development & Early Learning (OCDEL), child care facilities move through designations to the highest, known as a STAR 4 facility.
The Keystone STARS Performance Standards provide the foundation for the program. The Performance Standards are grouped into four levels: STAR 1, STAR 2, STAR 3, and STAR 4. Each level builds on the previous level and utilizes research-based best practices to promote quality early learning environments and positive child outcomes. The standards address staff qualifications and professional development, the early learning program, partnerships with family and community, and leadership and management.
CRK program components include:
- STARS Managers/Designators are professionals who support and evaluate providers, and assess their quality levels based on the Keystone STARS system, described above. Participating providers are ranked on a scale from STARS Level 1 to STARS Level 4, with Level 4 representing the highest level of quality.
- Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation offers professional development and technical assistance to link and bridge systems and service options on behalf of a child, family and program.
- STARS Technical Assistance is no-cost consultation offered to Keystone STARS facilities to assist in enhancing quality and moving to the next STAR level.
- STARS grants and awards are provided to assist regulated programs with enhancing the quality of children’s programs.
- The School-Age Child Care Project is one of six regional projects within the state designed to assist school-age facilities and practitioners with supports and resources geared toward school-age children.
- Professional Development offers workshops, symposiums and conferences, and also partners with institutes of higher education to fund credential and credit-bearing courses.
- Health and Safety Consultation to assess programs and provide support regarding best practices in health and safety, including indoor and outdoor play areas, medications, food prep/sanitation, infant– toddler areas, diapering, hand washing, and leadership.
Benchmarks of Success
- Staff education: early childhood teachers have the training and knowledge for working with young children.
- Learning environment: early childhood programs have a variety of materials and activities for each age level making it possible for children to learn something new every day.
- Leadership and management: early childhood programs have sound business practices to ensure the child’s safety and early learning.
- Family and community partnerships: Parents and community members are encouraged to become a part of the child’s learning progress.
Central Regional Early Learning Keys to Quality (CRK) website - The Central Regional Key works to ensure high-quality early care, education and school readiness for children and their families within our twenty-county region.
Better Kid Care Program - Penn State Cooperative Extension - provides educational training in a variety of ways that support early learning and quality child care.
BUILD - The Build Initiative is designed to help states build a coordinated system of programs, policies and services that respond to the needs of families; carefully use public and private resources; and effectively prepare young children for a successful future. Pennsylvania is one of five states selected to participate in this national initiative. Visit the website to enroll in the Pennsylvania Build list serve and to learn more about the national Build project.
Early Childhood Education Linkage Systems (ECELS) - ECELS is operated by the PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (PA AAP). ECELS Provides health professional consultation, training, and technical assistance to improve early childhood education programs in Pennsylvania to regulated and non-regulated child care facilities
Early Intervention Technical Assistance (EITA) - EITA is a part of Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network and provides professional development to early intervention/early education providers.
PA Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics - PA AAP has many programs, resources and useful information pertaining to children’s health.
PA Department of Education (PDE) - PDE’s mission is to lead and serve the educational community to enable each individual to grow into an inspired, productive, fulfilled lifelong learner. PDE provides other information for early education.
PA Department of Health - The Health Department’s mission is to promote healthy lifestyles, prevent injury and disease, and to assure the safe delivery of quality health care for all Commonwealth citizens.
PA Department of Public Welfare: Office of Child Development - The Office of Child Development (OCD) promotes opportunities for all Pennsylvania children and families by building systems and providing supports that help ensure access to high quality child and family services.
PA Family Literacy - This program provides opportunities for parents to improve their basic learning literacy skills, educational levels, and their overall knowledge about child development. Adult education, parenting education, parent and child interactive literacy, and early childhood education are the four components which comprise the Family Literacy program. For more information contact Bureau of Adult Basic & Literacy Education at 717-787-6344 or visit www.pafamilyliteracy.org.
PA Head Start - The Pennsylvania Head Start Association is a non-profit organization actively involved in improving the lives of families and children, particularly those with low-income.
PA One Book Every Young Child - More than a half million Pennsylvania children ages 3-6 are reached annually through the One Book, Every Young Child program which stresses the importance of reading early and often to young children and how that impacts their future lives.
PA Partnerships for Children - Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is a strong, effective, and trusted voice for improving the health, education, and well-being of the Commonwealth's children.
PA’s Promise for Children - PA's Promise for Children is a coordinated statewide campaign to raise awareness about the value of quality early learning for all of our young children and build responsibility among every Pennsylvanian for the early learning of the young children in their lives.
PA School-Age Child Care Alliance (SACC) - SACC PA is a statewide network linking local, state, and national resources to support the best practices and innovative service delivery models in school-age care for Pennsylvania’s children. This program provides technical assistance, funding, training, and standards for programs operating before and after school. For more information contact your Regional Key.
QUEST (Quality Early Education through Salaries and Training) - QUEST is a comprehensive initiative to improve outcomes for children in Pennsylvania through recruitment and retention of qualified early educators.
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) - WIC is a federally funded program that provides healthy supplemental foods and a range of nutrition services for pregnant women, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children under age five in a supportive environment.
American Association of Poison Control Centers - If you have a poisoning emergency, call 800-222-1222 to be connected with your local poison control center. The website of the American Association of Poison Control Centers list addresses and contact information for poison control centers. You'll also find information on rumors about poisoning risks and games to play with a poison-prevention theme.
Big Brothers Big Sisters - BBBS’s vision is successful mentoring relationships for all children who need and want them, contributing to better schools, brighter futures, and stronger communities for all.
Born Learning - United Way of America is partnering with the Ad Council and Families and Work Institute to create Born Learning, an innovative public engagement campaign that helps parents, caregivers and communities create quality early learning opportunities for young children.
Color Me Healthy - A nutritional program developed for children ages four and five. The program provides fun, innovative, and interactive learning opportunities on healthy eating and physical activity. For information contact your Regional Key or call 717-787-7698.
Families and Work Institute - Mind in the Making (MIM) - MIM promotes social, emotional and intellectual growth in children by encouraging child care providers, parents and teachers to combine these three aspects during early childhood development to improve learning.
Mommy & Me Association - For 25 years, the trusted Mommy & Me™ brand has been dedicated to teaching interaction between children and parents and serves as a unique communication channel that strives to help support, encourage and inspire today's busy mothers.
National After School Association - Visit for a list of accredited programs in Pennsylvania.
National Association for the Education of Young Children - The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is dedicated to improving the well-being of all young children, with particular focus on the quality of educational and developmental services for all children from birth through age 8.
National Association of Child Care Professionals - The National Association of Child Care Professionals is the nation's leader among associations serving child care owners, directors, and administrators. The organization's goal is to improve, enhance and strengthen the credibility of the people who lead the child care industry by providing membership services and benefits. NACCP is the only association exclusively dedicated to child care management without regard to a center's tax status and corporate sponsorship.
National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators - NAECTE members are people from all across the United States and from countries around the globe. We are joined together by our common interest in Early Childhood Teacher Education.
National Association for Family Child Care - The National Association for Family Child Care is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting quality child care by strengthening the professional of family child care.
National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies - NACCRRA, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, is our nation’s leading voice for child care.
National Black Child Development Institute - The National Black Child Development Institute has been steadfast in its mission to improve and protect the lives of children. Along with the affiliate network composed of volunteers from across the nation, we have worked to improve child welfare services, make universal early care and education a reality, build family support services, press for educational reform and provide vital information on children's health.
National Center for Children in Poverty - The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) is the nation’s leading public policy center dedicated to promoting the economic security, health, and well-being of America’s low-income families and children.
National Child Care Association - NCCA is a professional trade association focused exclusively on the needs of licensed, private childhood care and education programs.
National Early Childhood Program Accreditation - Encouraging Quality and Recognizing Excellence; the Next Generation in Accreditation.
National Latino Children’s Institute - NLCI’s mission is to focus the nation’s attention on Latino children and empower communities for the full and healthy development of young Latinos in a culturally relevant environment.
Parents As Teachers - Parents as Teachers is the overarching program philosophy of providing parents with child development knowledge and parenting support. The organizational vehicle for delivering that knowledge and support is Parents as Teachers National Center.
PNC Grow Up Great - is the most comprehensive corporate-based school readiness program in the country. The ultimate goal of the program is to help produce stronger, smarter and healthier children, families, and communities. PNC Grow Up Great will invest in grants, sponsorships, television and print content, communications and volunteerism over ten years to promote school readiness.
United Way Success By 6® - Success By 6 is the nation’s largest network of early childhood coalitions, focused on improving school readiness through community change. In more than 350 communities or states, Success By 6® coalitions are changing the way things work so young children can come to school ready to succeed.
Voices for America’s Children - It is the vision of Voices for America’s Children that public policies at all levels of government—local, state and federal—ensure that children and their parents receive the services and supports to enable children to start school prepared for success.
What Do I Do With the Mad That I Feel? - Family Communications, Inc. is a nonprofit organization which provides early learning practitioners with valuable training sessions on managing anger issues and challenging behaviors in children. This company was developed and led by Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. For more information about training packages call: 412-687-2990 ext. 290 or visit the website.
Zero to Three - Zero to Three is a national nonprofit multidisciplinary organization that advances their mission by informing, educating and supporting adults who influence the lives of infants and toddlers.