News and Events
Early Connections 2019-2020 Annual Report to the Community
“From tiny seeds grow mighty trees.” (Unknown). As we have and continue to face a world health crisis that has impacted nearly every aspect of our daily lives, Early Connections has aimed to focus on the “tiny seeds” in in our community. Our children remain our primary concern because it is only from them that our “mighty trees” of the future will grow.
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.
Finally, Early Connections would be remiss without recognizing the retirement of our Executive Director, Darlene Kovacs, and thanking her for many years of nurturing Early Connections’ tiny seeds. Please be assured that Early Connections is entering the next year and those thereafter optimistic, energized, and eager to expand our organization, the services it offers, and the impact it has on our community. Together, we grow.
Early Connections Board of Directors announces new Executive Director
Dear Early Connections’ families, friends, and partners,
It is with great excitement the Board of Directors announces the new Executive Director of our organization, Michelle Harkins. Michelle has been fulfilling the duties of this position since the retirement of our previous Executive Director, Darlene Kovacs, but officially assumed the title as of December 11, 2020.
The Board is thrilled that Michelle has agreed to fill this position permanently. She has expressed to the Board a vision for the organization to expand both internally and throughout the community. The Board is excited to assist Michelle as she endeavors down these paths, and we are confident that under her leadership Early Connections’ mission will be wholly exemplified.
In addition to welcoming Michelle to her new role, the Board would like to formally thank our administrative staff who has made this transition seamless for our families, partners, and supporters. Their hard work and dedication to our organization, particularly during this trying time in our society, is deeply appreciated.
Please join us in congratulating Michelle, and as always, should you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Board of Directors at Board@earlyconnectionserie.org.
Jamie Schumacher, Board President
Early Connections Harbor Homes center closed until 12/16
Early Connections Harbor Homes will remain closed and is scheduled to reopen on Monday, December 16 as per DHS requirements. Please check FB and our website for the most up to date information. We are sorry for the inconvenience as we manage the safety of everyone.
Union City SD moving to 100% virtual classes 12/14
We have been notified that the Union City School District will be going 100% virtual on Monday, Dec 14. Due to the size of our facility Early Connections Union City will be able to offer wrap care for the school-age children from 1:30pm-6pm (same as wrap care hours) while the Union City School District is participating in 100% virtual learning. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause our school-age families.
We would like to extend our deep gratitude to Darlene Kovacs, our Executive Director, who retired at Thanksgiving time. Unfortunately, we were not able to celebrate with a typical retirement party due to the pandemic restrictions. Admin staff and our Early Connections Board President, Jamie Schumacher, extended a big thanks to Darlene (pictured), on behalf of everyone!
We are thankful for her years of service and dedication to Early Connections. Additional funding obtained during her time of leadership helped provide opportunities to serve more children within our community.
Darlene, on behalf of our Early Connections’ Board, our staff, and the children and families that we serve, we wish you well as you enjoy your next chapter in life!
Union City Update
Out of an abundance of caution, Early Connections Union City will remain closed. We plan to reopen on Thursday, December 10. Please check Facebook for updates.
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!
Early Connections takes COVID-19 and the safety of our children, families, and staff very seriously. We are following all protocols published by the CDC and Department of Human Services, and we are cleaning and disinfecting centers throughout the day.
In the event someone at your child’s center tests positive for COVID, we will notify you promptly.
Under certain specific circumstances, we are required to shut down the center for 2 days for disinfecting. If this happens, we will notify you immediately and keep you updated about reopening the center.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation during this difficult time.
Investing in Early Learning!
Pre-K Counts Classes
Dear PreK Counts Families,
We’re sharing some information with you in case you haven’t yet decided whether or not your child will return to Early Connections for this year’s PKC program.
Yes, you can decide to have your child attend Early Connections for PKC – we have a strict protocol in place, including taking temperatures, wearing masks, frequent handwashing, and sanitizing/disinfecting classrooms and materials. We are making it as safe as we possibly can so that everyone stays healthy!
If you decide you do not want your child in a classroom yet, but you do want him/her to have the benefits of PKC, we also offer a remote option!
- All PKC children who are participating remotely will receive a packet every 2 weeks. You can pick this up, or request that it be mailed to you. The packet will contain 10 activities for you and your child to do together, and thanks to Hooked on Books, there will also be a book for each child to keep.
- In addition, if your family has internet access, there will also be information provided by your child’s teacher to link you and your child with an activity every day. You’ll have the opportunity to communicate with the teacher, and to post photos or videos of your child enjoying the activity!
If you’re not ready to decide yet, please contact Early Connections for more information to help you make the best decision for your family:
City Center, 704 State Street, 814-456-4576
North East, 50 East Division Street, North East, email email@example.com
Union City, 16380 Rte 8, Union City, 814-438-7016
John E. Horan Garden Apartments, 730 Tacoma Road, 814-454-9713
Harbor Homes, 1841 East 18th Street, 814-899-3310
Darlene E. Kovacs
Thank you MaskErie!
Warm clothes, warm hearts!
HATS OFF to Gina Sims, Thrivent Financial and Luther Memorial for putting HATS ON our friends at Early Connections. Gina collected donations and found ways to get the most out of every dollar to provide warm clothing to our children. Here are our happy recipients!
A special thank you to Santa’s Helpers this year for their handmade gifts for our little ones. Santa’s Helpers meet each morning to design, saw, glue, sand or paint wooden toys. Erie Press Systems donates utility costs, and space on the south side of their West 12th Street facility for the workshop, which is busy with the sound of saws and sanders. They work hard all year preparing for the season of giving. We are so lucky to be recipients of their handiwork!
LEAP Science Family Engagement Event at City Center
City Center hosted a LEAP Science Family Engagement Event on October 29th. Children enrolled in our Pre-K Counts program and their families had a fun time experimenting and learning about air and wind.
Thank you WICU-12 for your continued partnership
We are thankful for WICU 12 for donating $2,500 to the Erie’s Future Fund Scholarship Program. Partner donations ensure that quality preschool scholarships are available to Erie County children up to two years prior to kindergarten. Erie’s Future Fund Scholarship Program is administered by Early Connections.
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!
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!!!
- “I know they have my children’s best interest at heart.”
- “They really show individual attention to all the children.”
- “They come home tired and full of stories of what they’ve learned”
- “My son has attended Early Connections in Union City since Preschool. I still remember the
- It’s Clear She’s Learning
- Caring, Nurturing Staff – I Will Always Remain Grateful
- Thank You!
- All the Good Things She’s Learned
- Teachers are Friendly
- Clean, Happy Environment
VINYL PALOOZA 4.0
Early Connections Extends It’s Sincere Appreciation to the Following Sponsors:
Kiwanis Club of Erie
The Plazony Family Foundation
Times Publishing Company
The Sunflower Club
Presque Isle Downs & Casino
Rep. Flo and Vicki Fabrizio
Rep. Pat and Michelle Harkins
Dr. Paul and Darlene Kovacs
Mike and LeeAnn Thomas
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 supports 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.
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!
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.
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.