Licensed Provider Resources

The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) (a collaborative effort between the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services) is focused on creating opportunities for the commonwealth's youngest citizens to develop and learn to their fullest potential. By developing an effective early childhood education system with high standards for programs and professionals, supports to meet these standards, accountability, and community engagement, OCDEL is helping our children, families, teachers, and communities reach this goal.

Early Learning Provider Requirements

Child care and early learning providers operating a program for four or more unrelated children must be certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. The Department regulates three types of child care facilities:

  • Child Care Center: A child care facility in which seven or more children who are not related to the operator receive child care. A child care center must have a certificate of compliance ("license") from the Department of Human Services (DHS) in order to legally operate.
  • Group Child Care Home: A child care facility in which seven through 12 children of various ages or in which seven through 15 children from 4th grade through 15 years of age who are not related to the operator receive child care. A group child care home must have a certificate of compliance ("license") from DHS in order to legally operate.
  • Family Child Care Home: A child care facility located in a home in which four, five, or six children who are not related to the caregiver receive child care. A family child care home must have a certificate of compliance ("license") from DHS in order to legally operate.

Child care regulations can be found here. If you are interested in operating a child care facility, you should contact the Department of Human Services Regional Child Development Office that regulates child care facilities in your county. Continue reading.

Apply for or Renew a Child Care Certification online with Provider Self-Service (PSS)

New and existing Child Care Providers can use Provider Self-Service (PSS) to apply for or renew child care licensing, submit online attendance invoices, update provider profiles, and much more. Pennsylvania OCDEL uses email communications targeted to child care operators for important communications. It is critical child care locations maintain an up-to-date email address for the primary point of contact at their program. Looking forward, OCDEL anticipates additional grant and award opportunities in the coming months. To ensure certified child care providers receive complete information on these opportunities, certified child care providers should visit Provider Self Service (PSS) and confirm their contact information is up to date as soon as possible. Specifically, certified child care providers are asked to visit their Licensing Location Profile(s) in PSS and check to ensure all Location Information is accurate, paying special attention to the Email Address field. For help with PSS, certified child care providers should contact the PELICAN Provider Help Desk at (877) 491-3818 (select option #2 twice), or email ra-eln@pa.gov.

Complete the 2022 Child Care Market Rate Survey

OCDEL is asking all Pennsylvania licensed child care facilities to complete the 2022 Child Care Market Rate Survey and share information about tuition rates and the true cost of care. Every two years, OCDEL asks early care and education providers to submit updates on their costs or confirm there has not been any change. These updates and confirmations are necessary as OCDEL uses this information to consider future Child Care Works (CCW) base rate increases. When all providers participate, this accurate accounting of data may mean more money for resources and staff in the form of future increased base rates. The 2022 Child Care Market Rate Survey should be completed by the facility's director, owner, or other person who is knowledgeable about the facility's operations and finances. The survey includes questions about private pay tuition rates, payments and fees, CCW program participation, enrollment, staffing, and operations. Private pay tuition rates collected from this survey will be used to update a facility’s rates in the PELICAN system. Rates from PELICAN are also displayed publicly on websites such as the Compass Provider search. This survey is being mailed to all licensed child care facilities in Pennsylvania and may be completed online or on paper. Providers should complete the survey for the child care facility. If multiple facilities are owned by a single entity, a separate survey must be completed for each. Participation is voluntary, and participants may stop at any time. At the end of the survey, a provider can enter the optional drawing for one of 100 $100 Amazon e-gift cards and triple their chances to win by returning the survey by September 1, 2022. The final deadline to complete the survey is October 11, 2022. Those who have questions about the 2022 Child Care Market Rate Survey or who need help submitting the survey should contact the Institute of State and Regional Affairs at ChildCareResearch@psu.edu or leave a toll-free voicemail at (866) 982.6433.

Didn't receive your Market Rate Survey letter? If your after-school program is closed for the summer, or you're a certified child care provider who didn't receive your letter for the Market Rate Survey, you can still participate! Just email the facility name(s) and MPI to the Institute of State and Regional Affairs at ChildCareResearch@psu.edu or leave a toll-free voicemail with the info at (866) 982-6433. You will then receive a weblink to access the survey.

Updated COVID-19 Best Practices for Early Childhood Education

Updated information is now available for COVID-19 Best Practices for Early Childhood Education (ECE). The updated information includes the Isolation and Quarantine Visuals, clarification of obsolete certification policies related to COVID-19, 6 Things to Know about COVID-19 Vaccination for Children, and more. This information helps keep ECE professionals informed on best practices for keeping children, staff and families safe and healthy as they continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue reading.

Behavioral Help for Early Childhood Programs in PA to Prevent Suspension & Expulsion

OCDEL has released two documents to support the efforts of Pennsylvania early childhood program leaders to eliminate suspension and expulsion for young children. Within the document, Preventing Suspension & Expulsion in Pennsylvania Early Childhood Programs, An Early Childhood Program Leader’s Guide, find resources addressing program policies, procedures, and practices that promote the positive social-emotional development of young children, and create a climate of support for early childhood personnel and stronger partnerships with families. The document, Behavioral Help for Early Childhood Programs in Pennsylvania to Prevent Suspension & Expulsion, provides definitions and program descriptions, as well as information for families and more. Continue reading.

OCDEL Offers Access to Healthy Minds App for Pennsylvania Early Childhood Educators

OCDEL recognizes that after two years of coping with the pandemic, life in the early childhood education (ECE) profession is nowhere near back to a normal state of operation. OCDEL sees and hears the ECE professionals who are learning to cope with their personal trauma from this global event while also supporting the children and families in the Commonwealth. We know children are coming into the early childhood settings with unique challenges and needs. As OCDEL works to develop and implement strategies to support the children, we also recognize the caring, committed adults deserve support. It is with this in mind that OCDEL has invested in a tool to support Pennsylvania’s ECE professionals. Continue reading.

Keeping Pennsylvania's Children Safe from Abuse and Neglect

Protecting children from abuse and neglect unites lawmakers, community partners, the child protective services system, citizens, and families to provide a safe environment for children throughout the Commonwealth. In partnership with counties, schools, and community organizations, DHS is promoting evidence-based programs that give parents the skills and supports, both formal and informal, that they need to ensure that their children grow up in safe and loving homes. By working together and relying on existing supports like family members and neighbors, we can improve outcomes for families and protect our children.

  • Please call ChildLine at (800) 932-0313 if you suspect mistreatment has occurred. Reports can also be made online through the Child Welfare Portal. Please note: Mandated reporters should report online.
  • Do you have a question about child protection? Email OCYF at RA-PWCPSLQuestions@pa.gov. This email is for inquiries only, NOT for reporting child abuse.
  • KeepKidsSafe.pa.gov: Learn more about DHS' Office of Children, Youth, and Families' (OCYF) vision for all children and youth to grow up in a safe, nurturing, and permanent family and community.
  • Click here for more information and additional resources.

Helpful Links

Early Childhood Education Linkage System (ECELS)

OCDEL Announcements

PA Department of Education

PA Department of Human Services (DHS) Early Childhood Education

PA Key Professional Development (PD) Registry