What is the ECEPDO@PASSHE?

The Early Childhood Education Professional Development Organization (ECEPDO) at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is supported by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) of Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services (DHS) and Pennsylvania’s Department of Education (PDE). This grant-funded partnership among four PASSHE universities (Shippensburg, Commonwealth/Lock Haven, East Stroudsburg, and PennWest Edinboro) and numerous other universities, colleges an community partners aims to increase the educational credentials among those who teach and care for preschool-aged children in early child care programs.

Why is this needed?

Quality early care and education are vital to a child’s school readiness and lifelong learning. However, there is a wide disparity in credentials among those who foster the learning environments of preschool-aged children. In Pennsylvania today, only about one-third of teachers in child care programs have a relevant credential or degree. The challenge is to break down barriers to the affordability of and access to credit-bearing coursework and credentials for early childhood educators.

How is the PDO meeting this goal?

The ECEPDO@PASSHE is working to remove barriers that often get in the way of early childhood educators’ ability to advance their own education. By funding no-cost tuition and numerous supports to qualifying applicants, many prohibitive barriers are removed. Removing these barriers to education will lead to greater numbers of individuals who will earn a Child Development Associate Credential (CDA) and Associate’s or Bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education. In turn, this will build and support the pipeline of professionals in these in-demand jobs on which families and our economy depend.

How long will it take to earn a credential or degree?

That depends on each student’s situation. Some coursework assignments will be part of regular daily work; other assignments will be done outside of the job. Any training already completed, as well as relevant work experience, can be considered for possible equivalency credits.

How can students apply and navigate the process?

Getting started is as easy as 1‐2‐3!

Eligibility Requirements:

  • 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.

First, apply for tuition assistance here. Next, student applicants will be contacted by a Professional Development (PD) Coordinator. Consider them as your personal navigator who will help to match you with a PDO education partner that meets your needs and future vision. Many schools follow a semester or term schedule (so do not delay!), and some make summer courses available. In many cases, the PDO partnership enables students to transfer credit-bearing courses from one education partner to another, thus offering tremendous flexibility!


Ask the PD Coordinator in your county. Reach out today!