T.E.A.C.H. Graduate Recognition 2022-2023

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Pennsylvania Honors 141 Scholarship Program Graduates—
the Workforce Behind Pennsylvania’s Workforce

Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA) in partnership with the Start Strong PA campaign honored 141 T.E.A.C.H. graduates from the Summer 2022, Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 semesters in a virtual graduation celebration on June 8, 2023. The celebration was attended by over 70 T.E.A.C.H. scholars, sponsoring child care programs, higher education partners, and legislators. The event recognized the graduates’ accomplishments and honored them for being the workforce behind Pennsylvania’s workforce.
T.E.A.C.H. offers early learning professionals a debt-free college education, supporting them while they work to become stronger teachers and earn thriving wages. In addition to significant financial support, T.E.A.C.H. provides each participant a counselor to help them navigate challenges in their personal life, career or at school and achieve their goals. Last year, T.E.A.C.H. supported 945 scholars who earned an average of 13-15 credits and increased their wages by 12%; 93% remained with their employers.

T.E.A.C.H. is a shared investment between scholarship recipients, employers, and T.E.A.C.H. funders. Employers pay a portion of tuition, provide paid release time for classes and coursework, and issue a stipend or raise at the end of each program year. In return, T.E.A.C.H. scholars commit to working for their employer at least one year after graduation, creating a more stable workforce. Funding for T.E.A.C.H. comes from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL). T.E.A.C.H. is administered by the Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA).
“After the struggles so many child care programs have endured these past few years, this a testament to the dedication our T.E.A.C.H. sponsor organizations have in supporting their staff and to the commitment our child care teachers have not only to the children and families they serve but to our communities,” said Ruby Martin, past Board Chair of PACCA. “Child care is not just an essential service it is the workforce behind the workforce that is supporting businesses in all other industries.”
In her message to the graduates, OCDEL Deputy Secretary Shante Brown said: “OCDEL continues to make investments in the T.E.A.C.H. scholarship program so that people just like you can achieve the goal of higher qualification. Although we have moved into a post-pandemic world, we are still navigating the aftereffects that may have sometimes made things challenging. But you all still managed to push through! Thank you for your commitment to Pennsylvania’s children and families.”
Brianna Knirnschild, Assistant Director of Little House Learning Center in Mars, PA and newly minted graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, said: “To some, T.E.A.C.H. may seem just like financial aid, and that is true, but it means so much more to T.E.A.C.H. scholars than just the money. Being given an opportunity like this allows people like me to enrich the early childhood world.”
Reflecting on the early education staffing crisis, Amanda Manges, Workforce Coordinator for The Learning Lamp, which serves families in Bedford, Cambria, Fayette, Somerset, and Westmoreland County and currently sponsors 43 T.E.A.C.H. scholars—4 of whom were honored as recent graduates—said: “Children need qualified teachers to give them the best opportunities to learn and grow, but child care programs across the state are asking themselves, How can we find and keep those teachers? T.E.A.C.H. is one way we can offer incentives to both recruit and retain teachers. This makes a significant difference as we try to compete with other industries for staff. 
“I am very thankful that the Shapiro Administration and our Pennsylvania legislature have continued to prioritize this funding and know that these dollars have a huge return on investment for the children, their families, and our communities.”

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Pennsylvania is supported by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) of Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services (DHS) and Pennsylvania’s Department of Education (PDE). For more information, visit and 

Download the event program HERE:
View the June 8, 2023 event recording HERE:

T.E.A.C.H. Graduate Recognition 2021-2022

132 T.E.A.C.H. Recipients earn degrees

Wednesday, June 8, 2022 the Pennsylvania Child Care Association in partnership with the Start Strong PA campaign held a virtual graduation celebration for 132 T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Pennsylvania scholarship recipients from the summer of 2021, fall of 2021 and spring of 2022.

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Pennsylvania is supported by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) of Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services (DHS) and Pennsylvania’s Department of Education (PDE). For more information, visit and

T.E.A.C.H. not only helps the workforce but by increasing the education of child care teachers, child care providers become higher quality. Higher quality raises the standard of the profession by making quality education and better compensation a reality for a greater number of child care workers. These factors create a more productive atmosphere for teachers and children. The result is more consistent care which contributes to a higher level of school readiness helping children be more prepared to learn in future years.

Speakers shared that the undervaluing and underfunding of child care will continue to not only impact the quality of children’s care and education but continue to pose great risk to both families’ and communities’ economic future, unless there are systemic solutions. 

Download the program HERE: 
View the June 8, 2022 event recording HERE: 


January 2022
PACCA receives additional funding from OCDEL in FY 21-22!
Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development & Early Learning (OCDEL) has generously granted PACCA additional funds to support approximately 100 more scholarships in this FY.  These scholarships, specifically for staff employed in STAR 1 & STAR 2 programs, will provide additional supports including:
  • A $200 completion stipend to scholarship recipients upon successful completion of their first semester,
  • Increased release time reimbursement rates to employers ($15 per hour),
  • Training & technical assistance for employers (see webinar information below), and
  • Enhanced counseling sessions (day and evening) for staff related to the college application/admissions processes and T.E.A.C.H. application (more information & registration links to follow soon). 
This additional funding is available for this fiscal year ONLY – so take advantage of this opportunity!  Many colleges have late start Spring semesters in which staff can still enroll!  For more information click HERE to contact a T.E.A.C.H. Counselor.  Click HERE to download a scholarship application.