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


Congratulations to Carrisa Kepple for having been recognized at this morning’s UnifiedErie Youth Awards ceremony! The Youth Work Awards celebrate the amazing adults in our community who go above and beyond in their work with children and youth at non-profit agencies in Erie County.

FREE PRESCHOOL! We have a limited number of Pre-K Counts spots available at several of our locations. Pre-K Counts is a FREE preschool program for eligible 3 & 4 year old children as well as 5 year olds who miss the Kindergarten age cutoff for their district.
Call soon – Spots are filling up fast!!

Thank you to our Erie Gives Day Donors! We truly appreciate those who generously chose Early Connections as one of their favorite nonprofits yesterday. Your gift will help us continue to provide high quality early care and education to the children we serve.

New Pre-K Classroom at EC-NE

We are pleased to announce the opening of a second preschool classroom at our Early Connections North East location housed within the Earle C Davis Primary School. Applications for Fall enrollment are now being accepted.

Accepting Applications for School Bus Driver

School bus driver for a child care center. Multiple runs throughout the day. Must be familiar with Erie streets. Must have CDL Class A with S & P Endorsements and no air brake restrictions. Will be able to pass background clearances. May have light maintenance duties during the day. No phone calls, please. EEO
Respond to: [email protected]

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


Early Connections staff had a great time making Elmo faces with children during Elmo’s visit to the Erie Art Museum during Celebrate Erie.
We got to have our picture taken with Elmo!

We Love to Read!

Early Connections Summer Campers stopped by United Way’s Little Free Library recently! Each pre-K child was paired with an older buddy to help with picking out their favorite book! We even had some curbside read aloud time!

Kindergarten Transition

Pre-K students from each of our Early Connections centers that will be attending kindergarten in the Fall visited Lincoln Elementary School as part of our transition to Kindergarten program. It was a great experience and lots of fun. Thank you to all that helped make this possible!!!

Preschool Art Show

Children at our West Side proudly showed off their art work to their families. Every imaginable surface was used to display the large variety of art creations the children made for their spring Art Show.

Exploring the Arts with NAMI of Erie County

Sixty preschoolers from City Center and West Side attended Exploring the Arts with NAMI of Erie County in April at the expERIEnce Children’s Museum. The children explored the museum and made maracas for a sing/play-a-long with Lori Burke. Exploring Arts with Nam focuses on how art and creativity can positively affect mental health and wellness

Creative Dance with Hula Hoops

Professional Hoop Dancer Jennifer Dennehy did creative dance, hoop dance and hoop making with City Center school age children during her residency at City Center this spring. The children created their own hoops and hosted performances for their parents and other classrooms.

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.


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)