ELRC 18 Philadelphia County

Types of Child Care and Early Learning Programs  •  Keystone STARS  •  Child Care Works  •  Early Intervention

What does high-quality care look like?

Choosing the best child care program for your child when not in your care is a difficult decision to make. There are many factors to consider: convenience, quality programming, health, safety and cost, just to name a few. Learn more about choosing a quality child care program where your child will not only be safe but thrive!


Types of Child Care and Early Learning Programs

You have options when it comes to the care for your child. Early learning programs help provide positive outcomes for children. They give families choices for quality early education at home, in community programs, or in school for part or all of the day. CLICK HERE to find child care and other early learning programs near you.

Child Care serves children birth-School Age. Child care is available in a variety of settings, including family child care homes, group child care homes, and child care centers, including Before And After School Programs. Programs for school age children (SAC) are important to provide care, education and activity for children through 8th grade. The Bureau of Certification in the Department of Human Services regulates family child care homes, group child care, and child care centers to ensure they provide safe child care.

Head Start (3-5) and Early Head Start (birth-3) serves children birth-4 years. Head Start and Early Head Start provide comprehensive services - including child development, health/nutrition, parent involvement and family activities - to families and children through age five. Families earning 100 percent of the federal poverty level or less are eligible to apply. Services may be center based, home-based or a combination of both. There is no cost to qualifying families. CLICK HERE to learn more about Head Start in Pennsylvania.

PreK Counts serves children 3-4 years. A PreK Counts provides funding for three- and four-year olds to attend a high quality, half or full-day pre-kindergarten in schools, child care centers, and preschools. It also provides funding for children to access Head Start services and is designed to support children who are at risk of school failure because of income, language (for example, English is not the child's first language), or special needs issues.  CLICK HERE to learn more about PA Pre-K Counts.

Private Academic School-Licensed PreSchools, PA Department of Education serves Children 3-5 years. Private Academic Schools (PDE Licensed Preschools, formally known as nursery schools) are licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education as private academic schools. They are staffed by qualified teachers and other professionals who encourage and supervise educational play.

Home Visiting services can be a great answer for families who are looking for help. Visits are conducted by professionally trained staff and based on the needs of the parent and child and are different for every family. Pennsylvania offers several different programs including Early Head Start, Family Check-Up, Healthy Families America, Nurse Family Partnership, and Parents as Teachers. CLICK HERE for more information about home visiting services in Pennsylvania.


What is Keystone STARS?

Keystone STARS is a Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) in Pennsylvania. It rates child care programs from one to four STARS on things you care about (meets state regulations for safety, offers a kid-friendly atmosphere with good teachers that partner with you to help your child learn) so you can find the program that feels right for your family. Child care and Head Start programs that participate in Keystone STARS earn a STAR 1 to STAR 4 rating based on quality standards. CLICK HERE to learn more about Keystone STARS.


Need help paying for child care?
Child Care Works

After you choose the right child care program for your family, then you have to pay for it! The Child Care Works Subsidized Child Care Program helps low-income families pay their child care fees. The state and federal governments fund this program, which is managed by the Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) office located in your county.

If you meet the guidelines:

·        The ELRC will pay a part of your child care cost. This is called a subsidy payment.
·        You will pay a part of the cost. This is called the family co-pay.
·        The subsidy payment and the family co-pay go directly to the child care program.

NOTE: If your child care subsidy does not pay the full amount that your child care program charges, the provider may ask you to pay the difference between the subsidy payment and their private charges.


You must submit an application to the ELRC to see if you meet the guidelines for the subsidized child care program.

CLICK HERE for Application in English. 
CLICK HERE for Application in Spanish.

CLICK HERE to view our list of Essential Child Care Works Eligibility Documents

The following are the basic guidelines:

·        You must live in Pennsylvania
·        Have a child or children who need child care while you work or attend an education program
·        Meet income guidelines for your family size
·        Work 20 or more hours a week - or-
·        Work 10 hours and go to school or train for 10 hours a week
·        Have a promise of a job that will start within 30 days of your application for subsidized child care
·        Teen parents must attend an education program
·        The child who needs care must be a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residency
·        Have proof of identification for each parent or caretaker in the home.

CLICK HERE to see if you qualify.

CLICK HERE for more information about the PA Child Care Works Subsidized Child Care Program. 


Early Intervention

While all children grow and develop in unique ways, some children experience delays in their development. Children in Pennsylvania with developmental delays and disabilities benefit from a state supported collaboration among parents, service practitioners and others who work with young children. Pennsylvania's Early Intervention program provides support and services to families with children, from birth to age five, with developmental delays and disabilities. Early intervention builds upon the natural learning opportunities that occur within the daily routines of a child and their family.

Early Intervention:

·       Helps children with disabilities develop and learn to their fullest potential

·       Enhances each family's capacity to meet the developmental needs of their child in the settings where children would be if they did not have a disability

·       Respects the family's strengths, values, diversity and competencies and answers families' questions about their child's development.

Are you concerned about your child’s development?  Call Pennsylvania’s CONNECT Helpline at 1-800-692-7288 for information about your child’s development and connecting to Early Intervention services in Pennsylvania.

CLICK HERE for more information about Early Intervention Services in Pennsylvania.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the CONNECT Helpline.  

CLICK HERE for Early Intervention resources for families.


Early Intervention Services in Chester County

Early Intervention Birth to Three Services
Early Intervention provides supports and services to children under age 3 with developmental delays to help the child develop. Services (at no cost to the family) build on existing family, community, and early education resources.  Service Coordinators help each family to get helpful services and supports.

Qué es la Intervención Temprana?
La Intervención Temprana en Pensilvania consiste en servicios y apoyos diseñados para ayudar a familias con niños que tienen atrasos de desar-rollo. La intervención temprana se basa en el aprendizaje natural que ocurre en los primeros años . Es un proceso que promueve colaboración entre padres, proveedores de servicios y otros que están envueltos significativamente con su niño 

Early Intervention services and supports can help a child’s development by

  • answering questions about child development
  • helping family members work with the child at home and in the community
  • supporting the child to become more independent
  • preventing the need for more and costly intervention in the future
  • helping communities become more aware of the abilities of all children

CLICK HERE for more information on early intervention services for Chester County infants and toddlers. 

Preschool Special Education Services (Early Intervention)
It is the mission of Preschool Special Education Services Early Intervention (PSES/EI) at the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) to ensure every preschool child is on track for success. If you are concerned about your preschooler's development, PSES/EI at CCIU provides free screenings for speech, language, fine and gross motor skills, vision and hearing. When screenings indicate the need for future assessment, a more comprehensive evaluation will be done with parental approval. If a child is found to need Preschool Special Education Services, an individualized education plan (IEP) is developed and the appropriate services are arranged. 

Educación Especial Preescolar (Intervención Temprana)

Nuestra misión es asegurar que cada niño en edad preescolar está en el buen camino hacia el éxito. Si le preocupa el desarrollo de su hijo en edad preescolar, ofrecemos evaluaciones gratuitas de habla, lenguaje, habilidades de motricidad fina y gruesa, visión y audición. Cuando las evaluaciones indican la necesidad de realizar otras evaluaciones y si los padres lo aprueban, se realizará una evaluación más exhaustiva. Si la conclusión indica que el niño necesita Servicios de educación especial preescolar, se desarrolla un Programa de Educación Individualizada (IEP) y se organiza la prestación de los servicios apropiados para cada caso. Haga clic aquí para completar una forma en español.

CLICK HERE for more information on early intervention services for Chester County preschoolers.