Fostering a Culture of Innovation and Generosity

Posted on: May 12th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

And How Our Values Translate From The Workplace to the Community

Written By: Christy S. Renjilian

Each business needs guiding principles. Ones that shape every aspect of the business from structure to employees to customer relationships. 

Though Community Connections for Children, Inc. is a nonprofit organization, we’re also a business, and we have principles that shape every decision we make. 

We believe in equality—everyone deserves the same opportunities and resources to succeed. 

We believe in creativity and innovation—progress happens better when we all work together. 

And we believe in generosity—our communities are at their best when we are working to improve each other’s lives. 

These principles radiate in our mission and values—and are at the core of what we do for our community and for the families and children we serve.

Innovation Is Key To Progress

Innovation is an openness to new ideas and change. It’s an understanding that just because you’ve always done something a certain way, that doesn’t mean it’s always how it must be done. 

And it’s one of CCC’s core ideals, as we’ve adjusted and expanded. There are often growing pains. But by valuing innovation, we come out better and stronger. We aren’t stuck doing things the usual way; we want to do things the best way. 

Innovation also means an openness to the thoughts of others—being constantly curious.  Because we know that ideas and strategies are better when there are multiple people contributing to the process. 

Each and every person brings valuable ideas to the table. Together, we find and create better solutions.

And innovation means that when things happen that you never anticipated or imagined, you are able to take a deep breath and rely on your team, your culture, and your creativity to get through it. It’s a trust that you’re not only going to survive the challenge but also create, grow, adapt, and, ultimately, be more well-rounded as a result of it. 

CCC dug deep throughout the COVID pandemic to continue to operate at a high level and show up well for families, partners, and communities. 

The team created and offered virtual support sessions to Early Childhood Education Directors and Teachers to help them serve children and families during the pandemic. Along with the Rapid Response program, to support children with challenging behaviors and provide their teachers and families the support and services they need.  

With an innovative spirit, and by relying on one another, we were able to come out the other side an even better team. 

The Importance of Generosity 

Giving of your time, talent, and treasure to help others without thinking about what reward you will gain from it is at the core of generosity.

And with a generous heart, you understand, even when faced with hardships of your own, that you have a responsibility to help others in whatever ways you can.  

Because all people are interconnected. And families and communities only work when we help each other without thinking about what we get in return. 

A generous person doesn’t think that they are better than others, especially not as a result of their job title, education, or income. A generous person is willing to do whatever it takes to serve those around them.

Recently, Community Connections for Children, Inc. has been recognized as a workplace that strives for excellence. In 2022, CCC received the United Way of York County’s Partner Agency Award and was recognized as the highest producing campaign among all the partner agencies. 

The hardworking staff was recognized for their creativity in continuing to raise money through the pandemic. A huge accomplishment.

And I’m so proud of our team. They went above and beyond, showcasing their generous spirit. They organized karaoke and trivia gatherings over Zoom to expand our donors and giving platform. 

The team was also recognized for donating a high percentage of the funds they raised to the community fund. This community fund helps all the partner agencies throughout York County, not just CCC. And they donated funds to agencies in the other counties we serve—spreading the wealth and our impact. 

How Generosity and Innovation Serve as Guideposts

Generosity is important to me because it was one of the core values that I was raised with.  

From a young age, I experienced the world through the lens of a giver. My parents set the example, volunteering, tithing, and working in the nonprofit world. My father dedicated his life’s work to the YMCA. 

And I’ve carried those lessons with me, giving of time, talent and treasure. And I’m leading a community-based organization that leads by example and helps others to see the benefits of being generous and serving others.

It’s incredibly important to be generous to your staff, financially, and as human beings. In my tenure at CCC, over ten years now, we’ve worked hard to increase salaries and implemented generous paid time off policies.

And CCC has rotation weeks—staff members get one week a month with reduced hours, leaving early Monday through Thursday and having off on Friday. 

Beyond the financial aspects, the leadership team and I recognize that the culture we build and the connection we have with our team are just as important. We work hard to be generous with our praise and appreciation. To reinforce and remind each team member of the important role they play in serving children, families, child care programs, and the larger community. 

CCC impacts the economy of seven counties here in south central Pennsylvania, and each team member contributes to that success. Day in and day out. 

Innovation is important, too. In the world of early childhood education, things change all the time. We constantly work to stay on top of new research and strategies to help teachers work with children and families. We adapt to changes in policies and procedures related to eligibility for financial support to help pay for child care. 

And of course, we have to stay flexible, agile, and adaptable to respond to changes in CCC’s operations, staffing, leadership, and programs. 

That’s why we work hard to foster a culture of trust, respect, and support. Innovation isn’t possible without these core values. 

Hiring the best person for the job, someone who knows how to do those specific job functions better than you do, giving them the support and resources they need, and then getting out of their way is how we create that environment. 

I’m proud to say CCC was a finalist for the Central Penn Business Journal’s NonProfit Innovation Award in the Management Operations category. 

Innovation thrives in a supportive atmosphere of creativity and respect.

Paying It Forward In Our Community

We lead change. At CCC, we are a collective voice, educating local leaders about the critical role child care plays in the community. Access to child care is a workforce, job retention, and education issue. And research has shown quality childcare to be a critical investment that saves significant taxpayer dollars in the years ahead. 

We know, especially as a result of the impact of COVID, that child care is foundational to the health and well-being of children, families, and our local economies.  Without adequate child care, families cannot remain in (or return to) the workforce.  

We administer funding programs, extending those dollars to childcare providers which helps them keep their doors open. These efforts ensure that children receive a solid foundation to be ready for school and life. 

We help families now and empower children to be successful in the years to come.

And we know that together, innovation is possible. Together, our generosity can be more impactful. Together, we are our best.

About Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director. 

To learn more, visit

Knowing Where Your Dollars Go

Posted on: May 4th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

Knowing Where Your Dollars Go

A Financial Deep Dive at Community Connections for Children, Inc. 

Written By: Christy S. Renjilian

As a careful spender, you likely want to know exactly where your money is going and exactly what it is doing. When you support organizations like Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC), you want to know that your contributions are being used for good. 

Transparency is very important to us at CCC. We want you to know how we manage and spend our budget, what programs we fund, and how their dollars are making an impact. 

And that goes for money received through grants and government programs as well. 

We are committed to ensuring every dollar that comes into CCC is used wisely. And we take that responsibility very seriously. 

Let’s dive into exactly what’s happening in the CCC Finance Department. 

The Numbers At A Glance

Helping parents afford quality childcare is at the heart of our mission. And to do so, each month CCC processes around 3,000 payments to childcare providers for the Child Care Works program. 

If that sounds like a lot of payments, a lot of families served, it is. But did you know our revenue for the 2021-22 fiscal year is $172 million? That’s over twice our revenue from two years ago, pre-pandemic, and goes to show the growth of our organization.

Even more telling, our current budget is almost eight times that of ten years ago—when our annual budget was $22 million. 

And CCC operational costs are less than 1% of the overall budget. 

While our growth has been exponential over the last few years, our team has not grown in size until last month. CCC wants every dollar possible to be spent on the children, families, and programs that we serve. And we want operational, management, and administrative costs to be as low as possible. 

And the CCC team continued to operate at a high level of excellence, with perfect monitoring reviews from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS), Department of Education (PDE), and the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL). With clean audits conducted by Boyer and Ritter.

How the Pandemic Impacted the CCC Budget 

COVID-19 forced CCC to shift, just as it did for everyone else. The Finance Department, led by Victor Ha, transitioned from always on-site prior to the pandemic, to only in the office to process payments, to now a hybrid model.  

Back in March 2020, we knew that despite most businesses and nonprofits shutting down, at least temporarily, we could not. What we do is essential and we have to ensure that funds continued to flow, accurately and on time to the child care programs, so that they could keep their doors open and continue to serve children and families, particularly those of essential workers. 

The pandemic brought in new funding streams through the COVID-19 relief laws: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Approximately $30 million were added very quickly to the budget and new systems had to be created to manage this increase. 

And while rapid change impacted the finance team, they adapted quickly and I’m proud of how they leaned in and handled it like the professionals they are. 

They excelled in a changing work environment, as ever-shifting regulations dictated when people could work in the office and when they couldn’t. Our ten-person finance team took on the extra funding and the challenges that came with it and utilized it in the best way possible for our community, all while remaining committed to the highest level of excellence. 

And we will continue to monitor and revise our internal processes to ensure that we are providing exceptional service and oversight of funds. 

We know that our programs can only be successful with a high-skilled team running them. And each person is an invaluable asset to our team. CCC will remain committed to having a great staff culture and work-life balance. 

A Breakdown of our Funding Streams

CCC supports many programs to address the various needs of the childcare industry. Let’s break down which programs each grant and funding supports. 

Child Care Works helps families have access to quality childcare by walking with parents through the application process and helping them pick a quality facility. It also helps families apply for financial assistance and then makes payments to the childcare facilities in a timely fashion. These programs, along with Keystone STARS, are supported by Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) funding

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federal program that helps participating child care providers offer and pay for nutritious meals for children in their care.

The Parents as Teachers program is a home visiting program for York County families and is funded by the Children’s Trust Fund and Private Foundations

United Way Funding supports individuals looking to become small business owners who operate home-based family child care programs through help with licensing and setup. 

Private Foundations also supports First 10 and the recruitment and retention of child care educators. ARPA Funds provides grants to child care programs. Individual Donations support the whole array of CCC programs.

It’s easy to look at our budget—the millions of dollars we receive and payout—and think that your contribution might not make much of a difference. 

But please know, it does. Each dollar has an impact. And less than one cent per dollar goes toward administrative costs. 

At Community Connections for Children, Inc., your donation impacts children here in our community. And we could not do what we do without each and every one of the donors and grants that support us.

You make a difference. And your donation matters. 

If you’d like to support our efforts, consider donating on Friday, May 6th for Give Local York.

Why We Do What We Do 

While CCC manages a large volume of funding, at the end of the day, we are all about people. And each of our programs exists to make the lives of people better.

CCC supports the economies of the seven counties we serve. We do this by ensuring that the child care programs we serve remain funded, supported, and operational.

Without adequate, affordable child care, many families would be unable to return to or remain in the workforce. And the economy would grind to a halt with a shortage of workers if child care wasn’t available. 

We also know that many families only have so much money to go around. Child Care Works helps families pay for child care so that they can pay for other items such as housing, food, and transportation.

Child care programs themselves have been suffering recently from a teacher shortage. Recent research shows that the staffing crisis facing the child care industry is negatively impacting all other local industries. 

All of these issues have a ripple effect if not addressed. CCC recognizes this and has programs in place to help facilities find teachers and train them and programs that help individuals open their own in-home daycares. 

Access to quality childcare programs is important. And here in central Pennsylvania, our team works diligently to get closer to that reality every day. 

Join us in our efforts by giving on Friday, May 6, 2022, for Give Local York.

About Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director. Victor Ha serves as its Finance Director.

To learn more, visit

A Rich History of Strong Leaders in Central Pennsylvania

Posted on: March 28th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

A Rich History of Female Leaders in Central Pennsylvania

And the Origin Story of Women’s History Month

Written By: Christy S. Renjilian

How long have women been celebrated for advocating for themselves in the workplace?

Since the early 1900s.

More specifically, in 1909, when the Socialist Party of America declared the first National Women’s Day to honor the women who participated in the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York City. This holiday was implemented after 15,000 women flooded the streets of New York City in hopes of better pay, working conditions, and voting rights.

One year later, during the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, a German activist named Clara Zetkin proposed the idea of an International Women’s Day. All seventeen countries in attendance agreed.

And on March 8, 1911, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated. Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and Denmark particiapted with enthusiam. But it wasn’t until the United Nations began sponsoring it in 1975 that the United States widely recognized it, too.

And it has continued to gain momentum.

But it still took years for us to recognize Women’s History Month. A local education task force celebrated ‘Women’s History Week’ in 1978 in Santa Rosa, California when they met to review the status of women. And the organizers chose the second week in March to correspond with International Women’s Day.

It spread across the country in the years to follow. And in 1980, a group of community leaders and historians, led by the National Women’s History Project, successfully lobbied for national recognition. That same year, President Jimmy Carter declared the week of March 8th as National Women’s History Week.

Each President that followed continued to proclaim a National Women’s History Week in March. 

And finally, in 1987, Congress passed a law to designate March as Women’s History Month.

Fast-forward to current, and this year’s theme is Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.

To celebrate the month—and our region—let’s take a look back at four women who have provided healing and hope to our community. 

Influential Female Leaders in Central Pennsylvania

You know that our region is full of history, but do you know the story of these four women who made waves with their resolve, determination, and leadership? 

Let’s learn from four of the greats.

  1. Loretta Claiborne: a global speaker and groundbreaking multi-sport athlete

Loretta was born in 1953 in York, Pennsylvania. She was born partially blind, with an intellectual disability and abnormal feet. After surgeries to correct her feet and visual impairment, she was finally able to walk at four years of age and talk at the age of seven.

When Claiborne was 17, a school counselor suggested she participate in the newly-formed Special Olympics. And she did just that, competing in the Special Olympics from 1970-2003 in various distance running events, bowling and figure skating.

She won six gold medals and many bronze and silvers. And Loretta has completed and placed in over 25 marathons. 

In 2000, her life was the subject of a television film, “The Loretta Claiborne Story.”

She has held many leadership roles, including on the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Board of Directors and the Special Olympics International Board of Directors. Loretta received three honorary doctorate degrees, including one from York College of Pennsylvania.

And in 2001, a medical and educational facility in her home community of York, Pennsylvania was named the Loretta Claiborne Building in her honor.

  1. Delma Rivera: secondary education teacher, activist, and humanitarian

Born April 15, 1929, in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, Delma became a secondary education teacher after graduating from the University of Puerto Rico. She moved with her husband, Dr. Edwin Rivera, to York in 1962, where they were immediately concerned about the Latino community—seeing issues ranging from education, health, and housing inequality to racism and high unemployment rates.

Spanish-speaking children weren’t receiving a quality education because there were no bilingual programs or bilingual teachers in the city school. And healthcare was a concern, too, as there were no interpreters at York Hospital. 

To lead the change, Delma and her husband co-founded the York Spanish Council in 1973—now the York Spanish American Center. She advocated, educated, fundraised, and served on many boards. She was recognized by the York Pennsylvania Branch of the NAACP for her part in advancing civil rights and equal opportunity for all and was an original member of the Governor’s Council for Hispanic Affairs. 

Delma was presented a key to the city of York for her efforts and the 200 block of East Princess Street in York is now dedicated to her and her husband.

  1. Elizabeth Thorn: caretaker of Evergreen Cemetery and war hero

We’re going back a bit further to recognize Elizabeth Thorn. Elizabeth and her husband Peter emigrated from Germany to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1855. And after her husband enlisted in The Civil War, Elizabeth stepped in to be the caretaker of Evergreen Cemetery.

When the war raged near her town, during the Battle of Gettysburg, Elizabeth and her family were ordered to leave for safety. And when the fighting ended, Thorn and her family returned home and found it destroyed by artillery, with wounded soldiers in her home and most of her possessions stolen.

Thorn did her best to care for the soldiers, and once those that healed left she was ordered by the military to start burying the soldiers who perished near her home. Elizabeth—who was six months pregnant at the time—hand-dug over 100 graves. 

Her husband, Peter Thorn, returned after the war, and the couple lived together until 1907.

And in 2002, a beautiful statue was dedicated in her honor and stands as a symbol for the millions of women who endured hardship, loss, and pain during the war.

  1. Dr. Elizabeth Reifsnyder: trailblazing medical surgeon and pioneer

In 1858, Dr. Martha Elizabeth Reifsnyder was born in Liverpool, Pennsylvania. She attended Millersville State Normal School (now Millersville University of Pennsylvania) and then Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, one of the first medical colleges in the world to award women a degree in medicine.

Dr. Reifsnyder graduated from medical school in 1881 and moved to China soon after, where she opened a hospital exclusively caring for women and children—the first of its kind in that part of the world. She was a pioneer, advancing modern medicine and performing heroic surgeries.

But when she opened the Margret Williamson Memorial Hospital in Shanghai, she struggled to get patients. But she perservered. Her reputation quickly grew after she operated on a female patient with a large cyst—draining many gallons of fluid. Over time she expanded her medical campus, which became one of the greatest hospital units in the entire region. It still stands today, and is now named the Red House Hospital.

Dr. Elizabeth Reifsnyder would occasionally make the long trip home to Pennsylvania to visit her family. She passed away in her hometown of Liverpool at the age of 64.

As you can see, our region is rich in history and has been impacted by the remarkable efforts of these four women—and thousands of others.

Loretta Claiborne, a highly accomplished, multi-sport athlete born to a single mom in York City who believed in her daughter—and her seven other children. 

Delma Rivera was a true humanitarian and advocate who recognized disparity and brought about change for the Hispanic community.

Elizabeth Thorn was a wife, mother, and caretaker who stepped in to serve when her husband joined the Civil War efforts. She heroically cared for and buried soldiers.

Dr. Elizabeth Reifsnyder was a groundbreaking medical surgeon who improved healthcare outcomes for countless women and children in China and paved the way for thousands of women to follow in her footsteps.

Impressive women who provided healing and promoted hope.

And an inspiration to us here at Community Connections for Children, reminding us of how far our region has come, and how much further it has to go. We pledge to continue striving for progress and equality—to ensure all families have access to affordable, high-quality child care choices that lead to success in school and life.

More Information About These Iconic Women

Loretta Claiborne

Delma Rivera

Elizabeth Thorn

Dr. Elizabeth Reifsnyder

About Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director. 
To learn more, visit

The Big Impact of Community Services at Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Posted on: March 23rd, 2022 by Kristen Miller

Written By: Stacie Shurock, Barb Green, Mariann Burton, Carol Heagy, Mariann Vargas, Megan Runk, Lauren Brenneman, and Christy S. Renjilian

Community Services is an umbrella term for the programs offered here at Community Connections for Children, Inc.—the services that support (and fuel!) the entire community. 

Each program ensures that all families and children have what they need to be successful in school and life. These programs connect families to needed services, provide supportive and nurturing relationships to promote family wellbeing, and make our communities a better place.

And they are responsive to individual questions and needs. 

Community services are much-needed, and they meet each family where they are…

  • They help families find child care and provide information on how to select the best care possible for their child. 
  • They provide connections between families experiencing food insecurity, homelessness, or domestic violence with the agencies that assist with those needs.
  • They help families who may be facing challenges related to a difficult pregnancy, concerns about how their child is developing, or a need for some support in improving their communication and parenting skills. 
  • And they even help employers find and retain workers, an in-demand service during the past two years. 

An example of a Community Service at Community Connections for Children, Inc. is the partnership with the START program to support individuals who are struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues. Core to our mission is support like this, providing access to needed services and making our communities better.

Community services are for all people. Anyone—family or child care provider—that lives in the Community Connections for Children, Inc. service area can connect with and utilize the programs, regardless of income. We serve Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, and York counties.

Community Services Offered by Community Connections for Children, Inc

Resource & Referral Services

First up is Resource & Referral (R&R) Services. The referral service is for families, employers, community organizations, and school districts. It’s a detailed child care listing service, customized to each family’s specific needs. It is compiled at the request of the family by R&R Specialists. 

And our Specialists have access to many community services that they often refer to families, making sure that each family has the right tools and information to make the best decision for their child.

The R&R program helps parents and guardians find childcare so they can work, become self-sufficient, and remain productive members of their community. And it provides peace of mind that their child is being taken care of in a quality early learning environment.

Imagine having child care and resource questions and concerns, as a new parent, and not knowing where to turn. That’s where our office comes in. The R&R staff help by providing information on choosing quality child care. 

And families are very grateful for that information and someone to listen to them in their time of need. They’re relieved to have an organization they can rely on. 

And note, there is no approval or application process to receive Resource & Referral services.  Any individual living in Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, or York County, at any economic level, can call the office for support.

Learn more about how Community Connections for Children is the resource hub for children, up to age 12. 

Pennsylvania Statewide Help Line

Did you know that Community Connections for Children staffs the Pennsylvania Statewide Help Line? 

We employ specialized staff, trained to assist individuals with questions related to children and families. In the past year, the HelpLine Specialist responded to over 6,900 calls requesting information. 

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

Child Care Works Helpline at 1-877-4PAKIDS (1-877-472-5437) for information about finding, paying for, and other concerns related to child care.

Child and Adult Care Food Program

Community Connections for Children, Inc. also offers the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). It helps child care providers serve nutritious meals that meet USDA guidelines to the children in their care. 

And it provides partial reimbursement to child care providers for serving nutritious meals and snacks. It’s important for children to learn healthy eating habits early in life, and this Community Service helps ensure children have access to healthy foods to support their development. 

The child care providers who are part of the CACFP feel supported and educated about serving nutritious foods. The reimbursement ensures that they will be able to continue to provide meals and snacks that nourish the children in their care.

If you’re a certified child care provider interested in joining the program, you will first need to fill out an application. Once approved, you’ll receive mandated training and complete required PDE paperwork regarding the meals you serve to the children in attendance at your program.

You’ll also need to sign an agreement and follow the regulations set forth by the USDA to participate and receive reimbursement.

Learn more about the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Child Care Recruitment and Support Services 

As a United Way of York County Partner agency, Community Connections for Children, Inc. helps individuals become Department of Human Services (DHS) Certified home-based family providers, provide quality care, and be successful small business owners.

The Child Care Recruitment and Support Services (CCR&SS) program provides technical assistance, professional development, and support to those working to open their own small child care business.

We know that in-home child care providers are a vital part of the community, and it is important to continue creating programs to serve unmet needs in the community. The CCR&SS program creates jobs and increases the number of child care spots for families. In most counties, family providers are the only ones providing care for non-standard work hours, including second shifts, third shifts and weekends.

It impacts hundreds of families each year. And helps to create strong small business owners, too, the majority of whom are women in the York community.

Our team helps these new entrepreneurs through all the steps of certification, witnessing their transformation into business owners. 

And now, we have providers who have been in business for over 20 years, taking care of generations of families. These providers are extremely successful.

Having your own child care business can give you a real sense of purpose—and it’s an essential service, helping support families in your community. Providers are extremely proud of the businesses they create and maintain. They create a safe space for children to attend while their parents work. Parents feel accomplished because they are succeeding at maintaining

employment and supporting their families.

Persons that are interested in opening a DHS Certified home-based family child care program and live in York County can enroll for free. 

Persons must be over the age of 18, have a GED or High School diploma, and pass required DHS clearances to operate a program. There are no fees for the training, coaching, mentoring, and resources that we provide.

Learn more about opening a home-based family child care program.

Parents as Teachers Program

Next up is the Parents as Teachers Program (PAT). It’s an evidence-based home visitation program for York County families that provides support from prenatal through kindergarten.

PAT is a free learning opportunity that equips parents and caregivers as the most important teacher in their child(ren)’s life through home visits by a Parent Educator.

It is open to any family living in York County. It focuses on parent/child activities, developmental parenting, and family well-being. 

PAT provides parents with a variety of resources and connections to other agencies who can help them with issues specific to their family, themselves, and/or their children. Like accessing resources to address their child’s mental health needs or connecting the parent with employment information.

And our trained professional are good listeners, too. Parenting is hard. And sometimes caregivers can feel lonely—especially when extended family lives outside the area. Knowing someone is coming to see them, even if just to listen and talk with, is so important.  And it builds confidence along the way.

Sometimes parents can feel uncertain about a decision or parenting philosophy. These feelings can impact their relationship with their child and also affect how they parent. And it can bring up many feelings the caregiver has about his/her own parents and experiences. Often, it’s conversations like these, without judgment, that happen in the PAT program. 

To enroll, you must be expecting or have a child three or younger. Families can receive services for their child(ren) through kindergarten. And it’s for anyone who is raising a child, including single parents (fathers or mothers), grandparents, or extended family. 

There is no cost for any of the home visits, group connections sessions, or for the books and materials provided to the families participating in PAT.

Learn more about the Parents as Teachers program by calling CCC at 1-800-864-4925.

What Community Leaders Need to Know

Providing community services—services that have a real impact on the lives of families and children—is a vital part of what we do at Community Connections for Children, Inc. 

We are a trusted partner and resource. CCC serves as a clearinghouse of information about quality child care providers, healthy food options, starting an in-home child care business, parenting support, and referrals for families looking for help with their child.

Based on our collective experience, we know that it’s imperative that public and private funds continue to support families to provide the best care and start in life for their young children. 

The first five years are the most critical in terms of brain development, socio-emotional development, and wellness. And if we, as a community, can improve the first five years of each child’s life, we can save funds related to special education, truancy, juvenile delinquency, and high school dropouts.  

We help children become more prepared and successful in school. And then there’s the long-term economic impact too, having a positive effect on workplace productivity, mental wellbeing, and overall community health.

Continuing to fund early child care is essential so that parents can afford to work and take care of their families. Funding for early learning childcare providers helps the providers continue to improve the level of quality and services that they provide to the children—our most precious resource. 

We invite you to lift up the early child care industry with us and ensure all families have access to affordable, high quality child care choices.

About Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director. Stacie Shurock serves as its Community Services Manager.

To learn more, visit

Public Libraries: A Hub for Early Childhood Development

Posted on: March 7th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

February is National Library Lovers Month. And if you’re like me, you love libraries. Like a lot.

Some of our first family outings centered around our local library.

When I moved to York, over 20 years ago, my husband and I had two young children, aged 3 and 5. Before transitioning to a new city and role, we had a weekly habit of attending storytimes at our library, and we continued that routine even after we moved. 

The children quickly developed relationships with the librarians and created their own nicknames for the branches we would visit regularly. 

Kreutz Creek was the “little library” and Martin was the “big library.” 

There we were able to devour more books than is possible for one family to purchase. And without all the clutter of owning a ton of books! 

“Going to the library was the one place we got to go without asking for permission. And they let us choose what we wanted to read. It was a feeling of having a book be mine entirely.”

– Rita Dove

The kids participated in the summer reading program and were proud when their diligence resulted in being recognized as “top readers.” 

The library was a safe, fun, inviting place to explore and learn more about their interests. It was a great way to acclimate to a new community and culture. And make lifelong friends.

A special memory I have tucked away was attending Martin Library’s official opening of its new children’s library area. The kids loved the readily accessible bins and shelves that made browsing for books really easy. It was also fun to see the families snuggling up in the corners of the “little house” reading good books. 

If you’ve never been, it’s a must-see centerpiece in downtown York, Pennsylvania. An absolute gem. And it’s recently been revised again.  And the “little library”– Kreutz Creek has a new building and is wonderful!

Libraries are an important hub in local communities.

Look, you probably know libraries serve children, families, and individuals of any age and income level. They support—and develop—an interest in reading, learning, and growing. 

But did you know libraries are a holding place for ideas and innovation? They are a safe place to explore new ideas and refine existing ones. 

For decades libraries have existed to enrich the lives of children and have been a go-to for parents and guardians seeking learning adventures, especially when public and private schools close for holidays, weekends, and summer break.

Libraries have adapted over time and now offer a variety of services including assistance to job seekers, persons working to upskill with online courses, individuals looking to brush up on a new topic, and even community forums. They also serve as social centers, with events for children and adults, STEAM programs, and book clubs.

“Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers. And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open.”

– Laura Bush

Libraries are public spaces valued and used by individuals and organizations, day shelters for at-risk populations, and points of access to computers and high-speed Wi-Fi internet for the one in five Americans without residential Wi-Fi or smartphone access.[1] 

Access to knowledge and technology is at the center of economic prosperity. And libraries are providing that to everyone. And they continue to evolve, with in-person offerings, materials, services, and technology. 

As with all industry, the pandemic forced the library to shift to better meet the needs of their members. And they adapted. Many created book bundles, hosted virtual programming and offered grab n’ go crafts. And they continue to develop a diverse collection of materials. 

How do libraries and early childhood programs work together? 

Libraries do many things to support the early literacy curriculum of early childhood education programs here in central Pennsylvania.

Each year they sponsor the One Book Every Young Child program, which brings local authors to the area, provides toolkits and suggestions for incorporating books into all aspects of an early childhood program and provides professional development sessions for early childhood educators.  

Over the years, nearly 20 toolkits have been developed and are available to programs to “check out” and implement with their children and families. 

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” 

– Jacqueline Kennedy

In downtown York, Martin Library has partnered with early intervention services to develop and implement sensory story time programming which targets families of children with special needs, but also welcomes typically developing children as well.

Community outreach is key. Libraries offer storytimes, field trips, STEAM programming, and partner with schools, businesses, and local events to sign children up for library cards. Martin Library supports the School District of the City of York through staffing its literacy and math intervention programs. And provides the librarian for the York Academy Regional Charter School.

Often librarians give of their time, serving on a variety of local early childhood education boards and committees to promote collaboration and ensure that all children have access to books. 

They have initiated the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program to promote early literacy and the connection between reading to your children, starting in infancy, and the child’s success in school. The project also helps close the gap between families who can afford to have books in their homes and have time to read to their children and those that do not.

Libraries play a critical role in developing readers and thinkers. 

Did you know that library services are free to you, the patron? 

They are an essential community partner and strongly support early childhood education. People who grow up seeking out information are people who will be the innovators and leaders of tomorrow.

And library use remains high. 

In 2018, patrons checked out over 2 billion items, including 750 million library items for children, and 80 million patrons attended children’s programs. Based on a 2019 Gallup survey, visiting the public library is the most common cultural activity in America.[1]

So, if you’re in early childhood education or you have children in your life, stop by your local library and say thank you to the librarians. And remember, they help all individuals through their entire lifespans.

If you’re new to the library scene or have recently moved, check out this really cool tool to help you find the nearest public library.

A few things you could do to start building a relationship with your library:

  • Sign up to get a free library card. And get one for your child, too.
  • Follow your local library on social media.
  • Reserve a book online. Many have contactless pickup and will text you when your book is ready.
  • Visit a library you’ve never been to with your kids or grandkids.
  • Schedule a playdate at your local library.
  • Check out their upcoming calendar of events. Chances are good there’s a book club, summer program, or fundraiser that may interest you.
  • Volunteer your time.

With all the good that libraries do in the world, let’s join together to acknowledge the value of public libraries and the smart, caring people who keep them going strong.


[1] Public libraries continue to adapt, enriching communities across America 

About Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director. 

To learn more, visit

Keystone STARS: An In-Depth Look at the Continuous Improvement Program

Posted on: February 28th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

Written By: Erica Heller, Alyssa Hahn, Sara Copeland, Sally Melder, Lisa Young, and Christy S. Renjilian

When you think of continuous improvement, what comes to mind? An automotive assembly line circa 1940? Or your latest meal-prepping session, your countertop organized with food in various stages of completion, ready to be set strategically in your fridge for the upcoming week?

Or in your business, maybe it’s process improvement, logistics, or up-leveling your client’s experience.

Have you ever thought about continuous improvement in the childcare industry? 

Children are, after all, the most important thing in our lives.

But did you know that there is a statewide program in Pennsylvania called Keystone STARS? It’s designed to assist childcare providers with quality improvements.

Pretty impressive.

And if you’ve heard of it, maybe even benefited from it, you may not know what role Community Connections for Children, Inc. plays in their programs here in our region.

So today, we’re pulling back the curtain on the program and bringing you an in-depth look at Keystone STARS (and the people behind it!). 

What is Keystone STARS?

Keystone STARS is a program funded through the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning. The acronym of STARS stands for Standards, Training/Professional Development, Assistance, Resources, and Supports.

And Community Connections for Children, Inc. serves as an early learning resource center for 13 counties in Pennsylvania, administering and maintaining the program.

Keystone STARS has four primary goals:

  • To improve the quality of early care and education
  • To support early care and education providers in meeting their quality improvement goals
  • To recognize programs for continuous quality improvement and meeting higher quality standards
  • To provide families a way to choose a quality early care and education program

At its core, STARS is a continuous quality improvement program designed to support child care programs in providing the very best care and education to children. 

Quality early childhood education is made up of two components, structural quality and process quality. 

Structural Quality often defines the foundational or regulated components of a quality program and includes aspects such as group size, children-to-teacher ratio, and teachers’ qualifications.

Process Quality focuses on the dynamic and human aspects that support the daily experiences of children, things like social, emotional, physical, and instructional aspects of children’s activities and interactions with teachers, peers, and materials.

The depth of STARS knowledge at Community Connections for Children Inc. runs deep. The CCC team has a combined 420 years of experience in the early childhood field. And offers many types of support, including:

  • Quality Coaches
  • Designators
  • Technical Assistance Coaches
  • Inclusion Support
  • Community Engagement
  • Nature Play Consultants
  • Health Consultants
  • Information Technology Consultants

And Keystone STARS has four designation levels to help parents find quality care.

STAR 1 designation means the provider has a full Department of Human Services license whose regulations focus on health and safety.  

STAR 2-3-4 programs work with STARS Quality Coaches to systematically build upon the DHS regulations and increase quality by focusing on Staff Qualifications, Early Childhood Education Program, Partnerships with Families and Communities, and Leadership and Management Practices.  

The increase of quality in program policy, procedures, and curriculum from participation in STARS directly impacts staff, children, families, and communities in a positive way.

How Does STARS Make an Impact?

The program has a great impact on children, families, and educators. Here in central and southeastern Pennsylvania, Community Connections for Children, Inc. serves 573 providers.

For children, it helps provide a quality space for learning, growth, and development. For parents, it gives peace of mind, helps them evaluate and select quality care, and supports their role as their child’s first (and long-term) teacher. And for educators, it helps to increase their knowledge and skills in working with children and families. 

In the K-12 school system, STARS ensures children are better prepared, with socio-emotional, pre-literacy, and pre-numeracy skills. Kindergarten teachers are able to build upon that strong foundation.  

And the STARS program impacts local economies — it enables families to enter or remain in the workforce because they have access to quality childcare.

The impact is easiest to see when talking directly to the small business owners and early childhood educators we work with day in and day out.

So, we pulled together words and messages directly from them, our clients, to showcase how our team assists them and what it means, in their own words…

“Of all the training videos I’ve watched, you are the best teacher…by far!!!  Thank you for your work/efforts and obvious care/passion for your profession.”

“Thank you for everything you do for children and families and for leading the Health and Safety Task Force meetings!  Your meetings are very informative, and I look forward to them every month.”

“I shared your email with my staff using PATHS and the general consensus is that we love the curriculum.  It is still amazing to see the children using their words with their friends and using the turtle method to solve problems.  This curriculum has definitely become an asset.”

“One of the people that has helped us tremendously to get where we are today is our ELRC coach. She has been walking beside us and helping us through many of the processes that we need to go through.  We are very appreciative of all the help she has given our center.”

“This message comes today because of my deepest appreciation for my Quality Coach.  She has been nothing short of FABULOUS in the transition. She has been more than patient, understanding, and extremely helpful to me moving to a STAR 4. The renewal process, online forms that I am not confident with, and everything else she has done to support me during this whole COVID thing. She’s a gem, and you’re lucky to have her working for you!”

“I just want to say thanks for all you do to keep us all informed and up to date with the latest information.  I have just spent about 3 hours going through the ELRC Newsletter, and the links and information contained are invaluable.  As always, you provide the support and guidance that we all need right now.”

It’s clear the staff at Community Connections for Children, Inc. provides exceptional, personalized support to its clients. And impacts children, families, educators, and the overall economy.

How does a childcare provider reach out to be part of the program?

If you’re a childcare provider, reach out through our website or by calling our office at (800) 864-4925.

You may have reservations about the “paperwork” aspect of STARS. However, the paperwork has been greatly reduced over the years. 

You may even believe that you are operating a quality program and shouldn’t have to go through the process to demonstrate how your program aligns with the STARS standards. Good news! Our Quality Coaches work with you every step of the way.

Many providers are curious and eager to learn yet may feel information overload when first exploring STARS. After your initial meeting and working with a coach, you’ll feel more confident as you work together and break down information for you to complete in ‘baby steps.’  

Once involved in STARS, many providers gain confidence in the program and in understanding the intent of the standards, and then they find it to be not so overwhelming.  Providers can work with the Quality Coaches at whatever level or need their program is at and successfully move up to the next STAR level.

When a provider comes to Community Connections for Children, Inc. with an interest in Keystone STARS, a coach will meet with them to gauge interest and help them through the designation process.

Support is personalized, based on each provider’s goals and needs. It often includes:

  • Initial resources and support 
  • Coaching 
  • Orientation
  • Monthly information sessions for providers

Our approach is to see what each program is doing and assist the provider in increasing the quality of what they are doing while maintaining their individuality.

We often hear how surprised providers are about their ability to build a real relationship with their Quality Coach. And even after a provider achieves the higher STAR levels, CCC Coaches will continue to coach them and support their efforts to stay up to date on the latest best practices and even incorporate additional programs—such as STEM, nature-based play, or socio-emotional curriculum.

And anyone can sign up for our e-newsletters, visit our website, or follow us on Facebook.

Why do parents need to know about Keystone STARS?

Each parent wants the best for their child. And quality early childhood care is essential. 

A child’s brain and socio-emotional skills are rapidly developing in the first five years. There is no other stage of life when their brain will be developing so quickly. And research proves that what happens in the first five years matters—it greatly impacts the rest of a person’s life.  

By enrolling your child in a high-quality program, you are helping to ensure that your child will be successful in K-12 and life. So ask your child’s provider if they participate with Keystone STARS, or have plans to explore the program.

We encourage parents to base their childcare decisions not just on the cost of care, or the location of the care, but on the quality of the care.  

Just like many adults make housing decisions based upon which school district their child would attend, they should pay as much attention to the quality of the child care programs in the area.

And the STARS program helps with that; it helps parents evaluate each facility and make an informed decision. It helps them know what a high-quality childcare program sounds, feels, and looks like.

For more information, visit our website.

About Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director. Erica Heller serves as the STARS Manager/Assistant ELRC Director.

To learn more, visit

Posted on: February 25th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

What is Child Care Works and Who Does it Help?

Posted on: February 4th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

Written by: Karen Bell, Michele Salsgiver, and Christy S. Renjilian

Have you ever struggled financially?

Maybe you were in between jobs. Maybe you lost a job due to attendance or layoff. Or maybe your health was suffering, and you were simply unable to keep up with your career.

If so, you’re not alone.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the unemployment rate in the US reached 14.8% in April 2020 after federal and local governments shut down the economy. The highest rates since the Great Depression. 

And since then, it’s down. The latest reports show December 2021’s unemployment rate was at 3.9%, still higher than pre-pandemic levels: 3.5% from February 2020.[1]

It’s hard to climb out of debt, out of financial strain. But if you have a child or children to care for, it can feel next to impossible.

And the reality is the pandemic in America disproportionately impacted families.

A Brookings Institute article revealed 44% of U.S. families in 2019 did not earn an income that was high enough to cover their families’ living expenses. Markedly, families headed by women (53%), Black (58%), and Latino or Hispanic (57%) individuals and individuals without a high school diploma (65%) are much more likely to be struggling economically.

But the COVID-19 pandemic brought the low-wage crisis to new heights, as unemployed and underemployed low-wage workers—particularly women and people of color—faced severe economic insecurity. In the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy shed low-wage jobs at eight times the rate of high-wage jobs.[2]

We knew the impact of the pandemic wasn’t equal from home to home, but this information shines a light on the true crisis at hand.

And that’s where Child Care Works can help. It helps low-income working families pay for child care and be able to keep their job or find a new one.  

It’s so, so needed.

What is Child Care Works?

Child Care Works is a federal subsidy program that helps eligible, low-income families pay for some or all of the child care costs incurred when parents are employed and/or in training. 

Families are determined to be eligible based upon their family size, income, and verification of employment (or a combination of employment and training).  

It helps homeless families and teen parents, too. Also, parents of an older child with a physical or emotional disability may be eligible to qualify for subsidized child care services through the age of 18.

In the state of Pennsylvania, Child Care Works is funded through the PA Department of Human Services. And funds are paid directly to the child care program. 

Here in central Pennsylvania, Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) manages the subsidy program as the Early Learning Resource Centers for Regions 9 & 10. As the ELRC, CCC serves Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry and York counties. 

CCC reviews and approves applications, answers questions, helps families find quality care, and is the go-to early childhood education resource.

The CCC team has over 165 combined years of experience in working with this program and helps approximately 5,000families annually. The organization serves as the conduit for over $90 million dollars.

We all know that quality child care is expensive, yet it is the foundation for a child’s development. And that families need to be able to work to support themselves. This program is the catalyst to meet all of those needs.

“In my travels all over the world, I have come to realize that what distinguishes one child from another is not ability, but access. Access to education, access to opportunity, access to love.”

— Lauryn Hill

The bottom line is this: Child Care Works matters. It connects children with excellent care that their parents may not be able to afford on their own.

Success with Child Care Works

Child Care Works is an economic lifeline to better opportunities for low-income families and their children. And it can be emotional. Tears are often shed when struggling parents learn they can access help.

And success looks different for each child and each situation. 

At Community Connections for Children, Inc., we’ve seen families gain peace of mind because they are confident that their children are being well cared for. 

And other families break the multigenerational impact of poverty, setting their children up for success in both school and life.  

When a child graduates from high school to pursue his life goals, after having a strong early childhood foundation, it gives us a great sense of purpose and a renewed hope for our future.

We’ve seen clients outgrow and outearn the program, no longer needing financial help. And some who have gone from homeless to financially secure.

It’s all success. And it’s all changing lives.

A client just this week sent the following note:

“As our time with Child Care and CCW has now come to an end, I wanted to take this opportunity to personally thank you and the entire staff who have so kindly and graciously helped and supported my two daughters and myself over the past 11 years!  Because of your efforts and dedication, I—a single working mother with two jobs and two children—was able to work to provide for my daughters knowing they were in good care.  The work you do is truly invaluable and makes a difference in the lives of so many.  Please take good care and thank you for everything! I will always remember your kindness.”

And a caseworker with Community Connections for Children, Inc. shared the following recap after talking with a father in the program:

“I just wanted to share with everyone that I spoke with a client who happens to be the child’s father and he was very complimentary of our team and how we treat fathers. He stated that he often gets treated differently because he is not the mother and usually has to jump through hoops to get ‘the same rights and privileges’ as the child’s mother but that we have gone the extra mile to make sure he is treated equally and fairly.  He said that from the time he applied, everyone at our office has been very helpful and respectful and he is very grateful.”

It’s always a joy to celebrate a client who reaches a personal milestone.

Recently, a Community Connections for Children, Inc. team member shared that her client started out with the program as a teen parent, transitioned to being a low-income adult client, and stayed in the program until she graduated college and became a Registered Nurse. 

It often comes full circle. Child Care Works has a big impact on parents and their children. And on our collective future and regional economy.

Keeping children in quality childcare for as long as possible is a priority. And it’s a team approach at Community Connections for Children, Inc.

How to Apply for Child Care Works

If you or someone you know is interested in applying for Child Care Works, please visit

The process can take up to 30 days and starts with a parent or guardian completing an application that verifies employment, income, address, and family composition.

Once the application is reviewed and found eligible, the next step is a face-to-face appointment, where the parent reports their childcare provider or requests a child care referral. Once they indicate their choice of provider, the child is enrolled in the program.

At that time, the child is scheduled for care based upon the families’ work/training schedule and need for care. Families are assessed a co-pay, which they pay directly to the child care provider.  The child care provider submits an attendance invoice each month to Community Connections for Children, Inc, which is then reviewed with the payments for childcare being paid directly to the provider. 

And each year, the family must complete a Redetermination to continue in the program. 

At Community Connections for Children, Inc., our team is comprised of Intake Specialists, Subsidy Specialists, STARS Coaches and Technical Assistants, Resource & Referral Specialists,  Provider Liaisons, and Finance Assistants to ensure you and your child have a seamless experience. 

And at the heart of a successful program are relationships. It’s important that we care and work to develop a supportive relationship with each client, getting to know them and their unique situation, and serving as a resource for their child care questions and concerns.

A hopeful future for all children and families

At Community Connections for Children, Inc., we hope that all children are fully supported and nurtured. We hope that every child is given the opportunity and space to explore their interests and have a stable place to play, learn, develop, and make those lifetime connections.  

It’s important to us that the children we serve have a quality education that will follow them for the rest of their lives. And that they are cared for and educated in an environment that promotes success for each and every child. 

We hope that each parent and guardian knows they are both strong and courageous as they work to make a better life for their child. And that there is a community of people rallying for their success. 

Reaching out for help can be hard. We value each parent and guardian and take pride in working hard to help the children in our regions succeed.


[1] The Balance: What Is the Current U.S. Unemployment Rate? 

[2] Brookings Institute: How Family-Sustaining Jobs Can Power an Inclusive Recovery in America’s Regional Economies

About Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director.

Karen Bell serves as the Child Care Works Manager and Michele Salsgiver serves as the Eligibility Manager.

To learn more, visit

What Does Meaningful Support for Teachers Look Like?

Posted on: February 1st, 2022 by Kristen Miller

Written by: Christy S. Renjilian

Support. Meaningful support.

What does it look like for you?

In 2022, it’s an absolute necessity. For me, for you, for everyone in your life, particularly those who are caregivers, nurturers, and teachers.

Meaningful support lets you know you are seen and valued.

It aligns with your needs. Specific needs, because there is no one size fits all. 

When things are hard and the struggle is real, that’s when you need it most.

Don’t know how to start providing meaningful support? Well, step one is to listen.  

And listen deep. 

When it comes to educators, it’s not offering them a gift card or telling them to practice ‘self-care.’ It’s listening to them and recognizing that teachers are emotionally and physically exhausted—like many others.  

How are teachers feeling right now?

Many teachers are on the verge of burnout. 

Before the pandemic, researchers estimated that one out of six American teachers was likely to leave the profession. But new survey data from the nonprofit RAND Corporation suggests that now one out of four teachers is considering quitting after this school year.

They are deeply worried about their students and doing everything they can to meet their needs. And many are working in environments with enormous pressure and impossibly high expectations. 

Teachers hear about it from every angle, too. 

Students are frustrated, trying to juggle it all and cross the finish line of yet another out of sorts school year. 

Parents are worried, and many are expressing their fear in the form of anger in local social media groups, at board meetings, or in parent-teacher conferences. 

Administrators and state officials are often consumed by standardized test scores and have lost sight of the fact that there hasn’t been a ‘normal’ school year for three years. They are failing to remember that if you don’t address the student’s emotional and mental wellbeing, serving the whole child, research tells us that they will struggle academically.  

And teachers are feeling it all. And leaving the profession at a record pace. Brand new teachers and long-time teachers. 

With a lack of meaningful support, there will be an ongoing staffing crisis. 

Nationally, the ratio of hires to job openings in the education sector has reached new lows as the 2021-22 school year started. The statistic currently stands at 0.57 hires for every open position.

We’ve all heard countless stories about the substitute shortage. Classroom upon classroom without a teacher or substitute to fill the role. So overstretched teachers and support staff are expected to fill in these spots. More work with fewer people.  

Some teachers are demoralized—they believe they are unable to perform their work to the high standard they have. It goes beyond burnout.

What is a reasonable expectation for our teachers and students?

Look, it’s reasonable to expect teachers to do their best to address the needs of their students. To support them as the experts they are and allow them to nurture the whole child. 

It’s not reasonable to expect the current third graders to be at the same level—academically, emotionally, or socially, as the third graders of the 2018-2019 school year, the last ‘normal’ year.  

Let’s encourage teachers to focus on developing meaningful relationships with each of their students, discerning what they need, and aligning their curriculum to meet those needs. 

For students, it’s reasonable to expect them to be open to learning, to engage emotionally, socially, and mentally throughout the day. 

And it’s reasonable to expect both students and teachers to do the best they can given the circumstances. But this doesn’t mean that students or teachers have to be perfect. 

We need to remind ourselves that ALL teachers and ALL students have been impacted by COVID. And that we are in the third year of an ‘adjusted’ school year. And it’s compounding, year after year. 

As the adults in the system, we need to take a deep breath, pause, and be reasonable.

How do we turn care and compassion into meaningful, actionable support for teachers?

You’ve already started. Pausing to ask genuine questions—of yourself and the teachers in your life—is the first step. They are the experts in educating and guiding students, and they know what they need to do their jobs. 

As a community, we can pause, ask questions, listen to the answers, and work together to implement their suggestions.

And if you want to go beyond that, we can truly express compassion for the education community. Here are a few more ideas to consider:

  • As parents of school-aged children, we can remember we are equally responsible for supporting and educating our children—and then follow through to do our part. It’s seemingly mundane things, like regular bedtimes, monitoring homework completion, and attending parent-teacher conferences, that truly make a difference.
  • As a community, we can celebrate progress. Let’s not compare grades or performance with those of a pre-COVID era. Understanding that each child, each teacher is doing his best and celebrating him for it. 
  • As administrators, school boards, state officials, and parents, let’s focus on the most important things. The health and well-being of the teachers and children. Both physical and mental.  
  • And let’s work together to give teachers the power, time, support, and freedom to do what they love to do: teach. And encourage and support a “whole child” philosophy of education, with brain breaks, mindfulness activities, and check-ins.  
  • Let’s protect planning time and breaks. If you can’t even go to the bathroom during the school day, it’s highly unlikely that you are going to feel valued as a person.
  • And when all else fails, do not start new initiatives. This isn’t the time to develop a new grading system and online platform for parents. 

Most importantly, let’s collectively agree that it is unrealistic to hold teachers and students to the same pre-COVID expectations and standards. And let’s start meaningful conversations to change the dialogue of what success looks like.

Because empty, exhausted, and stressed teachers cannot meet the needs of their students.  

Reach out to a teacher and let her know you care

Think back to your own education. A smaller version of yourself in a classroom, learning and growing right before your own eyes. What do you see?

Chances are good you see your favorite educator. Maybe a best friend from first grade, too, but definitely your beloved teacher.

“Everyone who remembers his own education remembers teachers, not methods and techniques. The teacher is the heart of the educational system.” 

— Sidney Hook

We remember people, not things, practices, or techniques.

So let’s support the people at the heart of education—the teachers

Today’s challenge? Reach out to a teacher in your life, let her know you care. And listen. Wherever the conversation goes, just follow. If she wants to vent, great. Or if he wants to change the subject completely? Let him.

As families and community members, it’s up to us to advocate for teachers. 

So the next time you find yourself being critical of an educator, the school, or education in general, take a deep breath and pause.

Because maybe, just maybe, you’ll remember the challenge they are facing right now. And instead, tap into compassion, genuine care, and gratitude for all that they’ve done. 

Additional Reading:

A Closer Look at the State of Public Education in 2021

Self Compassion vs. Self Care, A Leader’s Guide

About Community Connections for Children, Inc.

Community Connections for Children, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director.

To learn more, visit

Tribute to Gretchen

Posted on: January 24th, 2022 by Kristen Miller

Eleven years ago, a new face appeared at our CCC staff meeting!  When Gretchen was introduced as the new Administrative Assistant and gave us a smile and a few comments, we could tell what a kind and gentle person she was.  As we all had passing conversations with her through the years, she was always polite, genuinely interested in what we were talking about, and would share a spark of her humor from time to time.  Among her responsibilities as Administrative Assistant, one gave time back to the STARS staff by creating, mailing certificates and letters to providers for which the STARS Specialists were profoundly grateful!   

All of our CCC Team have warm memories of Gretchen and honor a life well-lived. 

Gretchen had a beautiful spirit, great sense of humor and was truly a special lady.  She will be missed.  – Carol 

Gretchen was a calm, quiet presence at CCC. She always had a smile and a kind word.  I will miss hearing her and Steph talk as I walked by their office or was at the copier.  We will all miss her compassion and dedication. – Christy 

Gretchen was my Best Friend 

We always joked that we were the Golden Girls of CCC 

So Gretchen, Thank you for being my friend 
Your heart was true, you were my pal and my confidant 

I’m not ashamed to say 

I love you and I miss you more than I can fathom 

So Gretchen, Thank you for being my friend 

  • Stephanie 

Gretchen and I would commiserate most mornings about the traffic from the York Split to York.  We both would shrug, shake our heads and say, “Could you believe how fast people were going or what did you do while you sat still on the Rt. 83 parking lot today?”   It felt good to know someone else had the same experiences!   Gretchen, you are missed.   – Sally 

Gretchen started at CCC over 11 years ago, and quickly became a part of our family. 

I will always remember my conversations with Gretchen, about our families, our dogs, our shared experiences. 

And her kindness, thoughtfulness, and her smile. 

CCC will not be the same without her, I will not be the same without her. But we are all better for knowing her. 

Until we meet again Gretchen, you will be missed. 

  • Erica