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

Early Explorers Still Enrolling!

Our Early Explorers summer program starts next week and spots are still available!

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.

Happy Memorial Day!

We will be closed Monday, May 30th in recognition of Memorial Day.

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 😊


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.


Today is #GivingTuesday

Joey is a 2-year-old who initially came to us at Early Connections very shy and withdrawn.  There were safety issues in his home, and he needed to feel safe.  Our EC teacher provided a safe, nurturing environment to help him grow socially and developmentally.  After spending time in his classroom, Joey began to feel safe, and bonded with his teacher.  That is when we watched him blossom! 

Sadly, funding for this child abruptly ended and this child faced ending his care at Early Connections right away.  Our Family Support team worked hard to help his mom find other funding sources, but were unsuccessful. Mom was in the process of finding a job, but because she did not have one at that time, she did not qualify for child care subsidy. And how could a single mom go out and search for a job with no one to care for her child? Our Director and Teachers wanted to donate in some way to keep this young child in care, because they feared that Joey would lose the progress that he made.  They worried about his safety.  Because of the support of a few donors, this little one was able to continue attending our early care and education program for four additional weeks!  During that time, mom made great progress.  She secured a job, and is currently applying for child care subsidy.  That means that Joey can continue to attend Early Connections, and thrive!

#GivingTuesday is the international day of generosity happening tomorrow, November 30, 2021. It was created as a global generosity movement, unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. This year, we are asking for donations to contribute to our Bridge Funding program, which helps support our little ones who lose funding for childcare at Early Connections for up to an additional month. Please join us in supporting early childhood education together!

Join Our Team

We are looking for energetic, reliable and flexible teachers to join our team! We have full and part-time PreK Counts positions. Lead teachers shall possess a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education or Child Development, as well as an active Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Instructional Certification in Early Childhood Education. Teaching Assistants must have an Associate’s Degree or higher or a Child Development Associate’s Certification (CDA). Send resumes to

Current Openings for Pre-K Counts

We have openings in our Pre-K Counts program at several of our locations. Children must be 3 years old as of 8/24/2020 and younger than the entry age for kindergarten. Income guidelines apply (a family earning up to 300% of the federal poverty level, such as a family of 4 earning up to $79,500). Part-time morning and afternoon and full-time spots available. Remote learning is also an option. Please call for more information! City Center and North East locations – 814-456-4576. Harbor Homes and John Horan Apartments location – 814-899-3310

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.


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!!!

Pinwheels for Prevention

Our City Center preschoolers planted pinwheels at Perry Square for Child Abuse Prevention Month today!

A Visit From the Mayor

What an exciting day! The mayor stopped by our City Center location last week to read to our preschool classes. Our preschoolers loved meeting the mayor and listening to great stories, like Kusa’s Big Surprise by Kathy Iorio!

Thanks again Mayor Schember!! We can’t wait for the next visit! 😊

Erie mayor reads to kids at Early Connections | WJET/WFXP/

Farm to School Grant

Thanks to our Farm to School grant, our kiddos had the chance to sample some locally made cheese! We think they liked it 😆🧀

Special thanks to Edinboro Market for all of their help providing the local goodies!! Thank you Marti and Curtis!

Dr. Suess Week

Our City Center students have loved celebrating reading during our Dr. Suess Week!

🎈 Oh, the places they’ll go! 🎈

Happy Valentine’s Day from Early Connections! <3

Thank you to Kathy Iorio and Mike Visnosky! – Kusa’s Big Surprise

Today our children received an early Valentine gift, courtesy of Kathy Iorio through our Board Director, Mike Visnosky. Kusa’s Big Surprise is a thoughtful book which promotes the development of self confidence and teaches the lesson that even simple acts of kindness can mean a lot. Kusa’s message is one of love, self-respect, and selflessness. The 15 copies will be distributed throughout the EC community. Kathy has been active in improving children’s lives in Erie for many years. Her focus was on children’s health and fitness through wellness programs designed for elementary school age students. Kusa is her first attempt at writing and she didn’t miss the target of helping children learning to be self-confident individuals. We understand that Kusa is available on Amazon and that a sequel will be available soon. Thanks to Kathy and Mike for thinking of Early Connections!


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 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