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.

News and Events

Presque Isle Downs & Casino-September charity of the month

Way to go, Presque Isle Downs and Casino! Through their charity program, they raised $26,714.21 for Early Connections during the month of September. Thank you so much for your partnership. From left to right: Casey Foust, VP of Employee and Grant Management, Early Connections; Hannah Cowan, VP of Finance, Early Connections; Michelle Harkins, Executive Director, Early Connections; and Gary Hendricks, Vice President and General Manager, Presque Isle Downs & Casino.

Early Connections pre-apprenticeship sponsor designation marks promising future for early childhood education training

People from various Early Childhood Education support programs visited Corry’s ECE classroom this week to deliver new textbooks and supplies to the program.

The conventional path to getting a job is nonexistent. Some people believe education should be four years in a university, while others believe a degree is obsolete or think trade school is a better route for any needed higher education.

At the age of 18 or even 16, it can be a daunting decision to make. What was once very cut and dry is now becoming fluid, though. For Corry Area School District, students in the school’s Career and Technical Education Center’s (CTEC) Early Childhood Education (ECE) classroom are able to gain enough experience to receive certification upon graduation to enter a variety of childcare jobs. 

At CTEC, students are able to take a three-year Pennsylvania Department of Education-approved program of study for early childhood education. From grades 10 to 12, students get hands-on experiences with young children in a laboratory per-school setting.

Read the full article in the Corry Journal

Together we can!

In this time of uncertainty, there’s a fundamental truth that gives us hope – that together we can do extraordinary things. Over the past year and a half, the entire world has been coming together to stand up, help out, give back, and heal. Together.  

Early Connections is participating in GivingTuesday today, the global day of unity and giving. As you know, we have been serving young children and their families since 1895 (formerly the YWCA), and still continue to provide leadership, advocacy, and quality learning to help young children succeed throughout Erie County.

But we can’t do this without you! 

Join the GivingTuesday movement today by donating to Early Connections! Any amount of money, big or small, helps.  All you have to do is click on our donate now button on our website ( ) or simply click on this link to donate:  All donations stay within Erie County at Early Connections.

Not only do we need your support, but we also kindly ask your help to spread the word. Please consider sharing our Facebook post and tell your friends and family why you believe in our work and encourage them to support us too!

We thank you for your consideration. Together we can help our Erie County children prepare for success in school, and life!

Celebrating National Pre-Apprenticeship Day

Tuesday, November 16th, was National Pre-Apprenticeship Day and we are celebrating!
Early Connections is now an official Registered Early Childhood (EC) Pre-Apprenticeship Sponsor by the PA Department of Labor & Industry. The NW Regional EC Apprenticeship Intermediary team is equipped to provide support to high schools and vocational programs offering EC Pre-Apprenticeship Programming in our region. L-R Kim Kuehl, Workforce Coordinator; Jestina Klink, Associate Executive Director; Michelle Harkins, Executive Director; Kim Beers, Intermediary Supervisor.

Kiwanis District Convention

We are grateful for the presentation and panel discussion at the Kiwanis District Convention to address the child care staffing crisis. The presenters from left to right: Kimberly Beers, Early Connections; Chris Marsh, Erie Insurance and Erie Chamber Board Chair: Robin Howell, PennWest Edinboro, Kimberly Early, PennAEYC, and Michael Plazony, MVP Advisory Group and ELIC Commissioner.
We are grateful for the presentation and panel discussion at the Kiwanis District Convention to address the child care staffing crisis. The presenters from left to right: Kimberly Beers, Early Connections; Chris Marsh, Erie Insurance and Erie Chamber Board Chair: Robin Howell, PennWest Edinboro, Kimberly Early, PennAEYC, and Michael Plazony, MVP Advisory Group and ELIC Commissioner.

Now Enrolling Pre-K For Fall 2022!

Early Explorers!

🎉 Our City Center location is happy to announce our new Early Explorers summer program! 🎉

☀️ This program funded graciously by Erie Insurance encourages focus on language, literacy, STEM, and social/emotional skills while enjoying safe and quality learning, all while preparing for kindergarten in the fall! 🧬📖

In addition, the class will complete a Passport listing the summer’s learning based field trips. Contact Carrisa or Daryl at 814-456-4576 today for more information 😊


Thank you for our new masks!

We would like to thank our Board member, Alicia Pelkowski, VP of Life Agent and Policyholder Services, for making sure that all of our children had masks; the designs were a hit! The masks were purchased by Erie Insurance’s Asian Affinity Network.

Funding Assistance for Infant Toddler Care

Early Connections wants to share great news with parents of infants and toddlers! We have funded spots available in some of our centers for qualifying children under age 3, through the Infant Toddler Contracted Slots program. This provides your child with an opportunity for a high-quality child care and early education experience at no cost to you if you meet program requirements. There are several toddler spots available right now at our City Center location! 

Please call the Early Learning Resource Center at 836-5898 and ask for more information about Infant Toddler Contracted Slots, or call City Center directly at 456-4576 – act quickly because available spots will fill soon!


Our NE preschoolers visit Superintendent Dr. Hartzell

I received a special visit from some of our PreK students and was honored to read them a new story!  Thank you Early Connections!  Photo: NESD’s Superintendent Dr. Hartzell reading to Early Connections preschool children.

Community Helpers!

Harbor Homes preschool children helped with Fall cleanup in their school’s neighborhood. The leaves were fun to play in too!

Officers Matt & Mike read to City Center toddlers

Officers Matt and Mike read Ten Thank-You Letters by Daniel Kirk to the Toddlers at City Center yesterday. They had a lot of fun getting stickers from them!

Decorating pumpkins with Erie Kiwanis

Children at our Harbor Homes location enjoyed decorating pumpkins with the members of the Erie Kiwanis. We had so much fun!

Homemade applesauce!

Early Connections City Center and Union City children made applesauce. It was lots of fun and oh so delicious!

Happy Diwali Day

Children at our Harbor Homes location celebrated Diwali Day on October 24th. Thanks to Miss V for sharing, and Miss Marisol and Miss Ann for helping celebrate the day. The children had a great time celebrating and learning!

2022 Pre-K Graduation!

🎈 Oh, the places our preschoolers will go! 🎈

Our 2022 pre-k classrooms had the opportunity to celebrate their graduation this week! 🎓 We are so proud of all of their hard work and we will never forget all of the art they created, the songs they sang, and the dance moves they busted out every day.

Thank you to all of our teachers who made this graduation possible!! ❤️ Our kiddos would not be who they are without your kindness, love, and support.

At Early Connections, Pre-K COUNTS!!! 🤩

Happy Birthday Miss Niecey!

What a beautiful day for a birthday party! Happy birthday Miss Niecey, thank you for all that you do!

Thank you Cowboy Mike!

Many thanks to our friends at Outlaw Barbecue Revolution – Jen and Cowboy Mike – your positivity and support help us take Early Connections – and our community – to a higher level! 😊

25 Years of Mr. Tom!!!

Mr. Tom celebrated 25 years with Early Connections this week!

We could not be more blessed as an organization to have Mr. Tom on our team. He is our bus driver, our handyman, and our rock! Thank you Mr. Tom for all you do and all you have done for the children and the staff at Early Connections.

We can’t wait for 25 even more amazing years with you!!!


Thank You

We are very thankful for Second Harvest Food Bank for the Thanksgiving meals, and their amazing volunteers from Erie Insurance for delivering the Second Harvest meals to serve our food pantry!
Our Harbor Homes staff and children are so excited to have their new washer and dryer in place! A special ‘Thank you!’ to the Erie Housing Authority for installing the necessary hook-ups, vents, etc that we needed to make this possible.

Thank you Northwest Bank for your $3,500 PreK EITC donation! We look forward to our continued partnership to support our community efforts to help children experience success in school, and life. Early Connections’ PreK EITC donations support Erie’s Future Fund, a community initiative administered by Early Connections to serve qualifying children to attend one of over 40 high-quality preschools throughout Erie County. Pictured from left to right are Scholarship Director Kimberly Beers, Erie’s Future Fund; Executive Director Michelle Harkins, Early Connections; Senior Vice President, Erie Commercial Market Executive Anita Kuchcinski, Northwest Bank; and VP of Employee and Grant Management Casey Foust, Early Connections.

Annual Reports


To our community, this year brought transition internally and externally. We have new faces eager to help in our mission, and we have new partners and supporters providing the building blocks along the way. We invite you to join us in becoming an organization that helps educators, families, and entities statewide in addressing the gaps in early childhood care and education. More information on our endeavors is contained in the following pages comprising Early Connections’ 2020-2021 Annual Report.

Early Connections Annual Report 2019-2020

Over this past year, Early Connections has recognized our community’s children must be nurtured. To do so, we have focused on their health and well-being, support of their families, and innovative community relationships and collaborations. We would like to thank our dedicated partners and supporters, and we want to recognize the dedication and selflessness our teachers and many other staff have shown throughout this time. Early Connections remains committed to face any future obstacles as a community, just as we have this past year.
In summary, we are pleased to present our 2019-2020 annual report highlighting Early Connections’ work throughout this challenging time.

Previous Annual Reports: Early Connections 2018-2019 Annual Report ; Early Connections 2017-2018 Annual Report