Pennsylvania Early Learning keys to QualityThe NW Regional Key collaborates with regional early learning and school-age partners to support positive outcomes for children.

Pre K Counts is an initiative to build and strengthen pre-kindergarten partnerships.

United Way of Erie plays a unique role both as a leader in the health/human services sector.

Accredited Under the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations’ Standards for Excellence®

News and Events

Visit Us at Carnival for a Cause!

Come visit us at the Millcreek Mall’s Carnival for a Cause on Saturday, April 27th from 12-3 pm in the Macy’s Court area. Check out our awesome carnival-themed photo booth complete with fun props for your photos!

Early Connections Family Mini-Golf Day

Spring is finally here and Early Connections is ready to celebrate with a family-oriented event for all ages! Join us for Early Connections’ Family Mini-Golf Day, May 11, 2- 5pm at Harbor View Miniature Golf, 36 State St. (rain date – May 18). Open to the public. Cost is $5/game, a portion of the proceeds of each game benefits children’s programs at Early Connections.

Guest Readers at West Side

Rep. Pat Harkins, Rep. Bob Merski, and Mrs. Emily Merski visited Early Connections West Side recently to read some Dr. Seuss books to our Preschool students. We hope they will come read to us again!

Sen. Bob Casey Visits Early Connections

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-PA met with parents and educators at Early Connections in Erie to talk about the need for affordable, quality childcare.  His stop was one in a series of visits to child care centers across the state to discuss two proposed bills: the Child Care for Workings Families Act of 2019, which he co-sponsored, and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit Enhancement Act. Both pieces of legislation would make it easier for working families to afford child care and would increase access to child care for more children.

Pictured left to right: Kim Beers, Amy James, Casey Cass, Michelle Harkins, Mike Snider, Darlene Kovacs, Carlie Eck, Sen. Bob Casey, Laurie Ropelewski, Tiarra Jackson, Shamyra Gonzalez, and Christina Marsh

Early Connections
2017-2018 Annual Report
The Year in Review

Each day, when directors, teachers, and staff walk into Early Connections’ centers, we look forward to the day because we know we will watch wonderful things happen.  Some days will be noisy and messy, and others will be quieter and maybe even tidy! The children in our classrooms will make friends, they will negotiate, they will ask questions, they will grow, they will learn something new, they will discover something that interests them.  We are here to guide children on that journey, to help them succeed and be excited by what they are learning.

In this reportEC annual report 2017-18 cover page, we focus on Early Connections’ work and activities throughout the 2017-2018 fiscal year, not only within our organization but in cooperation with families, friends, and our community.  We pledge to continue our commitment to support young children and their families through leadership, advocacy, and quality programs in early childhood education!

Thank you for your interest in Early Connections!


Here are some pics from yesterday’s field trip to visit the Erie Bayhawks. It was lots of fun. We got to read books, try on actual jerseys, tour the building, touch a real basketball hoop and take lots of pics. Had a blast, can’t wait to see them again in January!!!
CC SA visit Bayhawks 11-26 #1

CC SA visit Bayhawks 11-26 #7 CC SA visit Bayhawks 11-26 #9


Aubrea Haynes - 4

Arthur’s Thanksgiving was a great choice of books to read to the preschool children at City Center last week. They enjoyed having Aubrea  Haynes from the Erie County Clerk’s office share the story of Arthur’s dilemma of who will play the part of the turkey in the school play.

Aubrea Haynes - 3

Llama Llama Red Pajama

Preschool children at City Center were delighted to have Kim Thomas, Northwest Regional Director, DCED, read Llama Llama Red Pajama to them. We hope she will visit us again soon! Kim Thomas - Oct 30- DCED-NAP--2


Mad Mex Fundraiser

Staff, Board members, family and friends gathered at Mad  Mex on November 13th in support of Early Connections. Food, fun, and raffles were part of an exciting evening!! Thank you to those who attended, those who donated, and especially to our chairperson, Kiwanian Linda Smalley!


Honoring Veterans!

Early Connections children created artwork to thank our local Veterans. Their artwork is proudly displayed at Texas Roadhouse restaurant.

EC art at Texas Roadhouse - 3



Kids on the Block

Kids on the Block, a troupe of puppets with and without disabilities, performed for Early Connections preschoolers today. The performances are designed to teach children about differences and similarities in people.

Pinwheels for Prevention

Early Connections children planted bright blue and silver pinwheels in Perry Square last week. The Pinwheels are meant to help draw awareness to April as Child Abuse Prevention Month and to remind us all that each child deserves an equal chance to thrive and grow.

Guest reader at City Center

Sargent George Koches from the US Army was the guest reader at City Center recently. We enjoyed our visit with Sargent Koches and hope he visits us again!

Children at Early Connections City Center enjoyed a visit from U.S. Sen. Bob Casey on March 22nd. Sen. Casey read the book, Bounce by Doreen Cronin, to the children who showed their appreciation by presenting him with a special gift to take back to Washington.

Kelly Neville from the Erie Redevelopment Authority visited City Center recently to read to our preschoolers. They learned about lead and why it is dangerous for kids. Thank you Kelly!

Our Butterflies classroom enjoyed having Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper read the book Betty Bunny Didn’t Do It to us. We hope she will visit us again soon!

City Center preschool children always enjoy
having Mayor Schember read to them. The Adventures of Gary & Harry: Two Turtles captured everyone’s attention!

City Center staff Megan Bruno-Osborne, Carissa Kepple, Kelly Ocasio, and Meghan Snider represented Early Connections at the Millcreek Mall’s recent annual Gingerbread House competition. They did an awesome job decorating EC’s house!


City Center preschool children were excited to have Alicia Evers and Conor Dawley from Highmark Caring Place visit them recently. They read “The Good Bye Book” and did a fish craft.  Thank you for donating the book to our classroom so we can read it again and again!


We Love Books!

book photo op
Early Connections is grateful for the Erie Kiwanis, who secured a grant from Constellation Energy to purchase books through Hooked on Books for Kids.  Pictured left to right presenting one of our City Center preschool classrooms books are Erie Kiwanis President Bill Sapone, and Kiwanis Joe Murphy.

book photo op2


Thank You


Early Connections Extends It’s Sincere Appreciation to the Following Sponsors: 

Diamond Sponsors

Kiwanis Club of Erie
The Plazony Family Foundation
Times Publishing Company
The Sunflower Club

Platinum Sponsors

Erie Bank
Presque Isle Downs & Casino

Gold Sponsors

Rep. Flo and Vicki Fabrizio
Rep. Pat and Michelle Harkins
Dr. Paul and Darlene Kovacs
Mike and LeeAnn Thomas

Chartbusters Sponsors

Lori Hetrick
Sean and Kimberly Beers

Thank You! East Erie Moose Lodge #593

Early Connections, Inc. is thankful to the East Erie Moose Lodge #593 for their donation of $500. The Moose Lodge supportMoose Lodge donation 1-2017s family-friendly causes throughout the community.  From left to right:  Michelle Harkins, Associate Executive Director, Early Connections; Craig Westover, East Erie Moose Lodge Governor, and Stephanie King, Director of Early Connections West Side.  Thank you Moose Board and Members!

Thank you! UPMC Health Plan

Early Connections is very thankful to their partners, UPMC Health Plan, for donating $40,000 through the Neighborhood Assistance Program.  This funding will be used to provide high-quality curriculum in each of the Early Connections classrooms throughout Erie County, delivering the best early learning opportunities for children to become better prepared for success in school, and life.UPMC-NAP donation for curriculum check presentation Jan 2018
Pictured (L-R): Darlene Kovacs, Executive Director, Early Connections; Jenny Weigold Geertson, Senior Manager, Regional Community Relations and Marketing Operations, UPMC Health Plan; Michelle Harkins, Associate Executive Director, Early Connections.



Thank you to everyone who donated so generously on Erie Gives Day to help Early Connections improve our playgrounds!


Annual Reports

Early Connections Annual Report

Creating Lifelong Learners, One Child at a Time

Early Connections is pleased to present the information in this annual report to the community.  We remain committed to our mission, providing leadership, advocacy, and quality programs in early care and education. We believe this represents the best means to assist young children and their families, giving young learners the enthusiasm and tools to succeed in their future education.

Front cover - Early Connections Annual Report 2016-2017

We work closely with our community partners to continually increase children’s access to quality early learning, and to provide an increasingly-diverse community of learners with multiple opportunities and means to explore new information, skills, and ideas.

In this report, we highlight Early Connections’ work during the 2016-2017 year within our organization and with our many community partners and supporters.  We continue to work for Erie County’s future by inspiring children’s love of learning and by connecting with families to ensure their children’s success.

Previous reports:


Early Connections 2014 Annual Report (part 1)

Early Connections 2014 Annual Report (part 2)