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.

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

News and Events

May be an image of text that says 'Sorry WE'RE CLOSED'
ALL EARLY CONNECTIONS LOCATIONS WILL BE CLOSED TOMORROW, JANUARY 18TH DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS. PRE-K COUNTS STUDENTS WILL HAVE REMOTE LEARNING LESSONS TOMORROW.

EARLY CONNECTIONS ANNUAL REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY

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.

#GivingTuesday

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Joey is a 2-year-old who initially came to us at Early Connections very shy and withdrawn.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 cfoust@earlyconnectionserie.org.

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.

Keeping Warm!

We would like to thank United Way of Erie County for suggesting that coats from an anonymous donor (with a big heart!) be shared with our Early Connections children to keep them warm.  Thank you for your kindness!

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.

Sincerely,

Jamie Schumacher, Board President

Highlights

Thank You!

Early Connections is so thankful to have recently received donations to the Erie’s Future Fund Scholarship Program. On behalf of the children and families we serve through Erie’s Future Fund, Administered by Early Connections, we want to extend our gratitude and thanks to the following organizations:

Curtze Food Services

Scott Enterprises

UPMC

For over 10 years, Erie’s Future Fund is able to partner with over 40 high quality early learning centers in Erie County. We extend our sincere thanks for the generous support of businesses and friends committed to Kindergarten readiness and preschool in our region.

Virtual Parent Cafe

YOU ARE INVITED!!

Our virtual Parent Café is Wednesday January 19th from 6 to 8 pm. We will be discussing ways we can better take care of ourselves. Internet or a data plan is needed to access the Zoom link, but admission is FREE! All participants will receive a $20 gift card. Reach out to Liz for more information at 814-882-3053, lnies@earlyconnectionserie.org, or register at forms.office.com/r/HHVBz2vnu5.

Thank You!

Early Connections is so thankful to have recently received donations to the Erie’s Future Fund Scholarship Program. On behalf of the children and families we serve through Erie’s Future Fund, Administered by Early Connections, we want to extend our gratitude and thanks to the following organizations:

American Tinning & Galvanizing Company

McGill, Power, Bell & Associates, LLP

UHS of Pennsylvania, Inc.

For over 10 years, Erie’s Future Fund is able to partner with over 40 high quality early learning centers in Erie County. We extend our sincere thanks for the generous support of businesses and friends committed to Kindergarten readiness and preschool in our region.

Pajama Party

Our City Center children celebrated the holidays with a pajama party today! We decorated tons of homemade cookies with colorful icing and sprinkles, decorated gingerbread people, made ornaments, and watched a movie!

Happy holidays from our Early Connections family to yours.

Santa’s Helpers

We would like to wish our sincerest thanks to the Santa’s Helpers of Erie for once again donating their handcrafted wooden toys to the children at our centers. Every year they work hard to prepare toys for the children during the holiday season. For our littlest ones, they donate handknit hats to keep them warm! Thank you Santa’s Helpers, we appreciate everything you do for us!!!

Thank you MaskErie!

We love the masks donated to us by 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! 

Santa’s Helpers

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!

Kneeling with the Santa’s Helpers: Hannah Cowan, Early Connections Finance Manager and Michelle Harkins, Early Connections Acting Executive Director.


We celebrated the 100th day of school in North East today! They did an activity with yummy snacks, but apparently they aren’t really 100 years old!


The Erie Police Dept. visited our John E. Horan Garden Apartments Center recently. They read a story and gave out toys, blankets, hats and gloves to our children. Thanks so much for the visit!

Testimonials

Thank You

VINYL PALOOZA 4.0

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.


 

thanks-1004046_640

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