How do you ensure your program can maintain operations at this higher quality?

PHMC is excited to announce a new resource to help programs sustain high-quality operations. The Fund for Sustaining Quality (FSQ), made possible by the Vanguard Strong Start for Kids Program™, is a competitive award available to eligible STAR 3 and 4 child care centers operating in Philadelphia. The awards will support the development and implementation of sustainability plans. Award amounts will vary based on need and scope of projects.

Awardees will commit to a 9- to 18-month engagement period to:

·         work with a strategic planning expert

·         identify landscape threats and opportunities

·         develop and implement an action plan to ensure sustainability of their business

Projects will focus on ensuring:

·         sound business practices

·         operational efficiency

·         risk mitigation

 The application will be released in January 2018. Awardees will be announced in April 2018. CLICK HERE for more information and eligibility requirements.

Registration is now open for Quarter 2 County Provider Network Meetings!  Don't miss this opportunity to connect with SERK Staff, Community Partners and other professionals to get up-to-date information about Keystone STARS and many other resources!

Philadelphia County:
Monday, December 4 at PHMC

Bucks County:
Thursday, December 7 at Wee Care, Langhorne

Family Child Care:
Saturday, December 9 at PHMC
*This meeting will feature guest, José Ramos, Program Manager at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health Environmental Health Services Lead and Healthy Homes Program to speak about the city’s lead testing and certification requirement for FCC homes.

Montgomery County:
Thursday, December 14 at Lansdale Public Library

Chester County:
Tuesday, December 19 at Chester County Intermediate Unit

Delaware County:
Thursday, December 21 at Delaware County Intermediate Unit

We look forward to seeing you in December!

2017-2018 Merit and Education Retention Award (MERA)

The 2017-2018 Merit and ERA request paperwork is now available. Please review the documents and contact your Quality Coach with any questions. Review the Quality Add-on Rates and Grants & Awards Structure Overview Fiscal Year 2017-2018 for eligibility and award amounts. Review Best Practices in Keystone STARS Financial Award Spending for guidance on what to purchase with your grant.

This year you must complete and submit a request form and a budget form for each grant type. Please note there are two versions of the budget form for each grant type. One is an Excel Workbook to be used for electronic submission and one is a PDF to be used if faxing. If using the PDF format, Attachment #2 is used for Merit requests and Attachment #3 is used for ERA requests.

Submit your Merit and/or ERA request via:

  • Email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Include your MPI#, your location name, and grant type in the “Subject” line of your email message
  • or Fax to 267-765-2397

Electronic submission is highly recommended to expedite the processing of your grant request. Another way to speed up your payment is to use electronic payment. If you are not already receiving your grant through electronic deposit, CLICK HERE to download and complete the form to start this process.

Click on the links below to download the appropriate forms.

MERIT AWARDS available to eligible:
   STAR 2 Center/Group
   STAR 2-4 Family Child Care

  STAR 2-4 Center/Group and Family Child Care

The STARS Enrollment Calculation Tool, commonly known as the ECT, assists the provider in accurately determining enrollment, as a full-time equivalency (FTE), for individual children and the program as a whole.  This form is required for STARS Designation and Renewal. The ECT is also required to be completed by all STARS 1-4 providers eligible for grant funding.  It will assist the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) in identifying the number of children impacted by the continuous quality improvement efforts of STARS participating providers.   

The timeframe of the data collection for the ECT can be any calendar week within the time period of 7/1-4/30 that best represents continued enrollment of the subsidy children.  The worksheet must indicate which calendar week was used.  (example 8/21/17 -8/24/17). The chosen week and the resulting FTE must be representative of the typical year-round enrollment of subsidy children. 

You can download the documents below, choose either Word or Excel formats for your program type.

Please contact your Quality Coach if you need assistance completing your ECT.

As part of Keystone STARS Revisioning, OCDEL and stakeholders involved in the process want to make sure that limited resources are being used as effectively as possible to provide quality early learning opportunities, especially for at-risk children. CLICK HERE for the 2017-2018 awards/grants structure.

As a result, OCDEL has made adjustments to financial supports. 

  • Maintain funding for teacher higher education scholarships (T.E.A.C.H. and Rising STARS Tuition Assistance) and Education and Retention Awards;
  • Maintain STAR 2 tiered reimbursement and merit awards;
  • Increase tiered reimbursements for STAR 3 and 4 programs by 23 percent by shifting resources from merit awards. By shifting these resources to tiered reimbursement, providers will have more flexibility with no grant paperwork (saving time and money). With the 12-month redetermination of children receiving Child Care Works, providers will also experience more stability and less paperwork serving these children. Regional Keys can also direct more resources to support quality improvement, and the Commonwealth can provide more equitable supports for at-risk children.

The reimbursement gap to cover the cost of quality early learning widens at the higher STAR 3 and 4 levels. Restrictions on merit awards can make it challenging to offset those costs, especially retaining qualified staff.

The current merit award structure has not resulted in a significantly higher percentage of children receiving Child Care Works enrolling in Keystone STAR 3 and 4 facilities. In fact, there is such an inequitable distribution of resources for at-risk children that programs serving the minimum percentage of at-risk children receive more than ten times the amount per at-risk child than programs serving 90-100 percent enrolled children with IEPs or receiving Child Care Works subsidy.


The PA Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) have released the revised Keystone STARS Performance Standards, June 2017, effective beginning July 1, 2017.

CLICK HERE to visit the PA Keys website to view the performance standards, the new Keystone STARS Program Manual and learn more about the revisioning of Keystone STARS

Reminder: Complete the New Health & Safety Training Requirements by September 2017 

Free online training is available now for 9 of 10 required topics.

One new requirement of the federal Child Care Development Block Grant is for all child care directors and staff to complete training on 10 health and safety topics by September 30, 2017. Please see OCDEL's Announcement for more information.

In order to meet the new requirements:

  • Take a free, six-hour "Health & Safety Basics: Requirements for Certification" course online through Better Kid Care or in person through the Regional Key, or provide transcript of courses already taken that meet the requirements.


  • Must take face-to-face Pediatric First Aid and CPR training.

Child care certification representatives are checking professional development records for these topics as part of inspections and new providers must complete pre-service training on the 10 topics before submitting an application.

Visit the PA Key website  or contact your Regional Certification Office for more details.

Updated PA Position Statements for use with the ERS scales are now available.

Learn more
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