Learn Who We Are and How We Can Help

  • What is the Professional Development Organization (PDO)?

    The Early Childhood Education (ECE) Professional Development Organization (PDO) at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is a Pennsylvania Department of Education grant-funded partnership among four PASSHE universities (Shippensburg, Commonwealth/Lock Haven University, East Stroudsburg, and PennWest/Edinboro) and other educational partners across 62 counties in the commonwealth.

  • What is the purpose of the ECEPDO@PASSHE?

    By breaking down cost barriers that often make higher education out of reach, the ECEPDO@PASSHE makes higher education possible for many who care for our youngest citizens!

    • Early childhood professionals expand their skills toolbox and may earn higher wages.
    • Early childhood center/program owners and directors attract and retain more qualified staff.
    • Most importantly, young children in their care benefit from quality early learning during formative years.
  • What is the opportunity for early childhood educators?

    By providing no-cost/low-cost tuition and other learning supports to early childhood education students within the PDO, we are breaking down barriers to accessing educational credentials, ranging from certificates to college degrees. In turn, credentialed workers are better positioned for higher wages and are empowered with greater skills to provide the highest quality of care to young children.

  • What does ECEPDO assistance cover?
    • Tuition and fees associated with a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, an Associate’s degree, and a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education
    • Apprenticeship opportunities to earn while you learn
    • Technology supports, as needed
    • Success coaching
  • What are the requirements for ECEPDO assistance?

    Applicants must:

    • Be a Pennsylvania resident.
    • Be a current employee at a certified child care program in Pennsylvania for three (3) months or more, or demonstrate employment history of six (6) months in child care if newly hired. (Participants actively enrolled in PDO activities will not be impacted by a change of employer, as long as the new employer is a certified child care program.)
    • Work an average of 25 hours/week directly in a certified child care program.
    • Earn no more than the maximum hourly earning limit of $25.00/hour (or $52,000/year) if you are a child care director.
    • Earn no more than the maximum hourly earning limit of $21.63/hour (or $45,000/year) if you are a child care teacher, assistant teachers, or aide.
    • Be interested to pursue coursework at a participating college, university, or other educational partner toward a Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential or an
      Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree.
    • GPA and course grades meet transfer requirements; a watch plan is developed for participants who do not meet transfer requirements.
    • Sign a Pennsylvania Early Childhood Education Commitment Form.

    Note: Additional funding eligibility requirements, limitations, and considerations may apply. Please check with your PD Coordinator for guidance and DO NOT apply to a PDO-participating educational partner (university, college, community program) before speaking with your PD Coordinator.

  • Who can help you navigate the process?

    Our goal is to make this as easy as possible for you! Our Professional Development (PD) Coordinators are eager to help you find the right partner to advance your education and career goals.

    DO NOT apply to a PDO-participating educational partner (university, college, community program) before speaking with your PD Coordinator.


As a PDO-sponsored student, you can access partner institutions of higher education and programs to earn a variety of credentials, an Associate’s degree or Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education at no or very low cost!

3 Steps 

Advance Your Education and Career Goals Today!
3 pathways to advance your academic and professional development
Child Development Associate Certificate (CDA)
Associate’s Degree, Early Childhood Education
Bachelor’s Degree, Early Childhood Education
  • “It hasn’t always been easy, but has been so worth it,”
    Martina Zimmerman
  • I am so happy to obtain funding to attend classes. This is really helping my family, as my husband lost his job and I am the only person working [in my household]. I am finishing a two-year degree and will soon be the director of the center where I work. Although I prefer to stay anonymous, I do want to say ‘thank you’ for this opportunity.
  • I am the director of a center in Berks County and want to say thank you for funding four of my staff who are now able to work on their CDA because of your assistance. Having quality programs to teach our future teachers and maintaining a Star 4 center is a wonderful match. I have had many staff graduate with either certificates or degrees in ECE. Your help with the cost is such a blessing. Thank you again!
    Lisa Zimmerman, Center Director , CDA Course Students Katie, Amanda, Becky, Heather PDO NE Region
  • The children learn life lessons from a very early age. It’s so important to shape their learning and behavior when they are young to help them develop strong, positive habits. I see real meaning from what I learn in class and how it applies to children in my care.
    Shaunte Sloan-Ambush , PDO-sponsored student attending Lock Haven University
  • I especially liked learning about children’s social and emotional development. It helps me understand them and what is appropriate for their ages.
    Ana Arteaga
  • I started my first CDA course recently and am so happy this is funded by the PDO because without it, I would not have had this opportunity. I feel I will learn so much from the content in this class. My goal is to learn and grow with everyone. Thank you, PASSHE PDO!
    Susan Wallace , CDA Course Student, PDO SW Region
  • I never thought I would ever have the chance to continue my education. A big thank you to the PDO program for giving me the support I need to achieve my dream.
    Danielle Roe
  • I choose to pursue my education due to the financial help I am receiving from the PDO program. Without it, I would not be able to achieve my educational goals.
    Erica Berkheimer
  • Going back to school has been a dream come true. My instructors and the PDO team have been amazing. Without PDO funding and the support of the PDO team and my family, this would not be possible.
    Angie Carroll
  • “The support offered by the PDO has helped me to excel. The flexible online environment makes it very easy to balance home, work, and school. Anyone who is considering this educational opportunity should take advantage of it while it is available. We are so fortunate to be able to get the CDA and degrees without cost.”
    Pallavi Priyadarshini , PDO-sponsored CDA graduate of Edinboro University
  • I decided to go back to school for my Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education at the age of 53 and am learning new things everyday.
    Elizabeth Boyle
  • Working with young children is very interesting and the staff is very supportive. This job is a lot more enjoyable than other jobs I've had. It's definitely more satisfying.
    Jake Thomas , PDO-sponsored student attending Edinboro University
  • Nicole Garland: All my professors have been absolutely amazing. They would get back to me in a very timely manner and help in any way possible.

    Alexis Garland: Charlene Frock encourages all of her staff to get their CDA.
    Nicole Garland (left) and her daughter, Alexis Garland (right) , Nicole Garland and her daughter, Alexis Garland not only work together but supported each other as they pursued their CDA Credential.
  • "Within a few days, I was registered at Shippensburg University and started classes. Balancing work and school has been a bit of a challenge, but a hurdle that I knew I could overcome. Knowing that I had the support of the PDO gave me the confidence to tackle several courses at once and earn A grades!"
    Diane Hoffman , Child Care Operator Completes CDA, Pursues Associate's Degree
  • I have really enjoyed this program and wouldn't trade it for all the money in the world. Getting my CDA is a wonderful experience to achieve. The program was a lot easier than I thought it would be.
    Megan Boom
  • From CDA to Associate’s degree I know my accomplishments were the combined result of the PDO funding and my PD Coordinator.
    Diane Hoffman
  • The support I received from the entire apprenticeship team and my instructor, from coaching and mentorship to study sessions and their belief in me, made all the difference.
    Sierra Peebles
  • I am currently taking coursework in leadership and it is helping me in my new role as a director. The course has taught me proper communication tools to use with my staff and
    families, ethics, and the vision I want for my center.
    Amy Stuck , Director Credential Course Student, PDO Central Region
  • The only thing anyone has to lose is this opportunity if they don’t take advantage of it.
    Charlene Webb , PDO-sponsored apprentice
  • It’s never too late to pursue education. There is always something new to learn and apply in this field.
    Anabela Araujo , Spring 2022 Graduate BA, East Stroudsburg University
  • With this support system, there is no possible way I can fail at this. If you want it badly enough, the help is available to get you through. Go for it!
    Tyquanna Ratcliffe , PDO-sponsored-student attending Westmoreland County Community College
  • Lists are a lifesaver. I come up with a plan every Sunday on how I am going to make it work. I try to tackle the hardest things on my list first so the end of the week is
    not stressful.
    Megan Burdinsky
  • Applying to the program was simple. Once I picked the school I wanted, it was a quick process to enroll and schedule classes. The coursework is easy to access. This program is an amazing opportunity for anyone looking to continue their education in early childhood.
    Katelyn Johnson
  • I manage my time. I attend classes in a compressed schedule three days a week and work at the daycare center around class time. I do have a few long days, but it is working and is worth the effort.
    Kayla Powell
  • Go for it and be the best teacher you can be! For that to happen, it’s important to get all the skills and education you can. The PDO made that possible for me and can for you, too.
    Leigh Ann Janicki , PDO-sponsored CDA graduate of Shippensburg University