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

Free Full-Time Preschool Program

Spots are still available for enrollment in our Pre-K Counts Preschool Program at our Erie City locations. Classes are full-day and are provided at No Cost to families meeting the eligibility requirements: Children must be between 3 & 5 years of age (do not meet the Kindergarten cut-off date), and household income must not exceed 300% of the federal poverty level. For example, a family of 4 can earn up to $90,000 a year.

Classes start soon! Contact the location nearest you to apply. City Center, 704 State St – 814-456-4576 John Horan Garden Apts, 730 Tacoma Rd – 814-454-9713 Harbor Homes, 1841 E 18th St – 814-899-3310

We are now enrolling for Fall Pre-K Counts! We’re accepting applications for slots in all of our centers. The first round of applications will close on June 30th, 2023. We look forward to hearing from you! To apply: Pre-K Counts e-Application 2023 (fillable form), or 2023 Pre-K Counts Application (printable pdf). B.B. King once said, “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” We’d love to be a part of helping your little ones learn!

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 Some people believe education should be four years in a university, while others believe a degree is obsolete or think trade school is a better route for any needed higher education.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

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.

Investing in Early Learning!

ERIEBANK presented scholarship funds to Early Connections to help more children gain access to high quality preschool education. Thank you ERIEBANK for your investment in early learning.
Pictured L to R: Darlene E. Kovacs (Executive Director, Early Connections); Katie Jones (VP/Market Manager, ERIEBANK); Kimberly Beers (VP Outreach, Early Connections); John VanTassel (Treasury Management, ERIEBANK)


Installation of City Center’s new playground fence last week was made possible through the generous support of the Erie Community Foundation. Thank you for helping us improve the safety and appearance of our playground!

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.


There was so much to do and so much to see over at the Children’s Museum! The City Center children had an amazing time!


Creativity is important in so many ways. It’s incredible and inspiring to watch these little ones explore their creativity and explore themselves, while also having fun. As Thomas Merton once said, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”


Learning about tools is important for little ones! It helps children learn dexterity/fine motor skills, measuring/math skills, and respect for tools and materials. Thank you, Gramma Buggy, for teaching us about tools and simple machines!


Reading can greatly benefit a child’s development. Some of the benefits include assisted cognitive development, development of empathy, deeper understanding, and it can lead to stronger relationships.


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.

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!

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

Thank you to Anita, Monica, Vanessa – also to Mary, Kelly, Tracy, and everyone else that worked with us for the Women Inspiring Women of Erie County Golf Outing, raising money for Erie’s Future Fund! It was an incredible experience and we’re so grateful to have all these amazing people in our community!

Annual Reports

Annual Report to the Community 2021-22

Despite the challenges of the continued pandemic, Early Connections remains strongly committed to providing quality early care and education to Erie County’s youngest learners. Throughout our five centers we have watched our children grow, learn, and prepare for success in school and life! More information on our efforts is contained in our 2021-2022 Annual Report.


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