Pennsylvania Professional Development Registry

Registry Name: Pennsylvania Professional Development Registry

Reach: Statewide

Participation status:  Required for Keystone STARS 2, 3 and 4 programs.
At this time, Keystone STAR 1 programs are not required to participate in the PA PD Registry but are encouraged to do so.
Programs are automatically designated as a STAR 1 upon receipt of their regular Department of Human Services (DHS) Certificate of Compliance.

ECE Workforce Population:  86,062

Registry Functions and Professional Supports: 

Workforce Professional Development (PD)Online ApplicationsTrainer RegistryReportsQRIS
★Demographics★Search for Trainings★Career Pathway ★Tracks certified Instructors★Canned SSRS reports★Keystone STARS Designation/QRIS
★Verified Education ★Register and pay online★Director Credential★Allows Instructors and Organizations to create courses and events★Logi ad hoc reports★Continuous Quality Improvement Plan
★Employment, including program staff lists and wage★Learning Management System (online courses)★PQAS – Instructor Approval★Approved National Organizations for E-Learning★Reports accessible to: •Directors
•Certification Representatives
•Quality Coaches
•Regional Partners
•Trainers/PD Organizations
•Pennsylvania Key/OCDEL
★Coaching Endorsements
★PD History & Learning Record★Rising STARS Tuition Assistance/CDA Voucher★Consultation Requests
★Self-Assessment and PD Plan★ARPA Grants★Coaching Events



Every early childhood educator and leader has equitable access to the social, emotional, and intellectual supports needed to feel successful, healthy and happy so they may bring those same successes to the young children they work with every day.


The Pennsylvania Key works collaboratively with partners and community organizations to deliver educational, professional, and administrative services to early childhood educators and leaders to support the enhancement of early learning experiences for young children in Pennsylvania.


Background: The Pennsylvania Key implements the work and supports the policies developed and managed by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL). The Pennsylvania Key (PA Key) was created in 2007 by the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) and is administered by Berks County Intermediate Unit (BCIU). The PA Key works collaboratively with partners and community organizations to deliver educational, professional, and administrative services to early childhood educators and leaders to support the enhancement of early learning experiences for young children in Pennsylvania.

Interview with: Kris Madden, Assistant Director of Workforce Programs at The Pennsylvania Key

Please give us an overview of the workforce registry in your state, who does it serve?  

Like most states, the PD Registry evolved over time to include a comprehensive workforce development system. It originated as a training calendar to register and track professional development in 2005. In 2018 Pennsylvania implemented a new and improved registry to include individual profiles tracking demographics, education, self-assessments, and verified professional development. It also included trainer and organization approval currently based on Professional Standards in which instructors are qualified to offer events posted in the training event search. Over time, we included the learning management system to house online courses, tuition assistance applications and the CDA Voucher, career pathway placement, and most recently the QRIS and coaching component. During the time of QRIS implementation, we also replaced the Core Knowledge Areas with the Professional Learning Standards within courses, the Self-Assessment, and Coaching Event topics. This comprehensive system is used by Directors/Owners of programs, staff within programs, Early Learning Resource staff (ELRC Administrators, Quality Coaches, Designators), individual instructors, instructors within organizations, Pennsylvania Key staff, and OCDEL staff

What is the role of Pennsylvania’s  PD Registry within the Professional Development System?

The Pennsylvania Professional Development Registry is a technology system that functions as a workforce registry. A workforce registry increases the number of high-quality early childhood education (ECE) programs by helping to develop and track a knowledgeable and skilled early childhood workforce. It is a comprehensive system including childcare programs, staff within those programs, certified instructors and organizations offering quality professional development to the ECE professionals.  It also includes applications for tuition assistance the CDA Voucher to help assist ECE professionals in attaining their education goals. The education is verified for placement on the Career Pathway and professional development required for Certification and Keystone STARS is verified on the Professional Development Learning Record. 

Designations for Pennsylvania’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (Keystone STARS) was also implemented in the PD Registry in July 2022. This also included a coaching component which can tie into quality improvement plans. The combined program information required for QRIS and ECE professional’s demographics and education provides important data about the early childhood workforce in Pennsylvania to help capture important aggregate data at the local, state, and national level for policy decisions. The Pennsylvania Professional Development Registry houses this information for quality improvement within programs to offer qualified staff and high-quality programs for the best outcomes for children.

Please expand on the types of functions and services Pennsylvania’s PD Registry provides that effectively support and strengthen the ECE professionals in your state.

★ Staff Reports for Directors/Owners and ELRC staff- This report allows a Director/Owner and Quality Coach to view each staff persons hire date, role, completion date of PD Plan/Self-Assessment, Career Pathway level, Career Pathway renewal due date, Director Credential awarded, required completions of Pre-Service courses, and education transcripts.

★ Career Pathway Application and Placement– Individuals upload education transcripts and credentials for placement on the Career Pathway. Career Pathway renewals are yearly. Pennsylvania’s ECE Career Pathway seeks to simplify and guide our profession towards meeting the minimal qualifications and competencies needed for each role an ECE Professionals may have.

★ Tuition Assistance– The Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Application is within the PD Registry. The Program pays 95% of tuition costs and fees for eligible college coursework taken by early learning professionals, with a maximum benefit of $8,000 per individual each fiscal year (July 1 through June 30). Tuition costs and fees net of other funding sources such as scholarships, stipends, discounts or grants (except the Pell Grant) are used to determine the amount of assistance.

★ CDA Voucher- The Pennsylvania Key CDA Assessment Fee Voucher Program Application is within the PD registry and supplies payment for the CDA Assessment Fee that is required to complete the CDA Assessment process. The full CDA Assessment Fee of $425 is paid directly to the Council for Professional Recognition.

★  Trainer and Organization Trainer Approval- The Pennsylvania Key and the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) has implemented a system for approving individuals and organizations who provide professional development and to early childhood and school-age professionals in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Quality Assurance System (PQAS) maintains a registry of approved Professional Development Instructors to help ensure that professional development activities and quality standards. Each instructor and instructors within organizations are approved for the specific Professional Standards in which they are qualified to create course content. Once approved, they may create courses and post events for individuals to register and be marked as verified on the professional development learning record. This process now includes national organizations offering e learning.

The Professional Standards are embedded in courses, training event search, self-assessment, and the coaching events within the PD Registry. The six national standards include:

  • Child Development and Learning in Context
  • Family-Teacher Partnerships and Community Connections Child Observation, Documentation, and Assessment
  • Developmentally, Culturally, and Linguistically Appropriate Teaching Practices
  • Knowledge, Application, and Integration of Academic Content in the Early Childhood Curriculum
  • Professionalism as an Early Childhood Educator
  • Pennsylvania-specific standard (Health and Safety)

★ Self-Assessment/PD Plan– The self-assessment is completed by ECE professionals to access their knowledge and competencies within in Professional Standard. The PD Plan is created to create goals for the year based on professional development, education attainment, and/or coaching.

★ Keystone STARS (QRIS) Designation System– Program Directors/Owners complete an application and upload supporting documentation for the Designation process of awarding and maintaining a specific STAR level. The Quality Coach reviews and verifies standards as being met or incomplete. This cycle can go back and forth between the Quality Coach and Director/Owner as many times as needed. Once complete, the final STAR level is awarded by the Designator and it is published on the Program’s Profile.

★ Continuous Quality Improvement Plan– Directors/Owners and ELRC staff can add to a program’s CQI plan. The plan can also be tied to specific cases including annual renewals or coaching events.

★ Consultation Requests and Coaching Events– Program Directors/Owners can request consultation within their organization profile. A Quality Coach is assigned to the request to create coaching events for the program at the classroom or whole program level. Reports can determine how many meaningful contacts occurred within the year as well as case notes and areas of service received within a specific time frame.

★ Reporting– Depending on the role, individuals have access to reports designed to assist with their workload. Logi and Ad hoc reports can also be captured by the Pennsylvania Key and OCDEL staff for specific requests pertaining to local, state, and federal reporting.

Please share how you leverage workforce voices and input in the design and implementation of the registry.

The PD Registry Team encourages feedback from all users within the Pennsylvania Professional Development Registry.  Requests and recommendations for improvements are compiled and shared with the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL). Stakeholder meetings are also conducted with OCDEL, Directors/Owners, Early Learning Resource Center Staff, Instructors, and Professional Development Organizations to elicit feedback on the system. Enhancement requests are tracked and defined by user request, how many people it effects, who it effects, level of impact, cost, timeline, and prioritization. This input is shared with OCDEL to make decisions on the enhancements to the system.

Pennsylvania’s PD Registry is doing innovative work to make things easier for the workforce. Are there any other equitable approaches or initiatives the registry has implemented to ensure early childhood providers could both succeed and be supported throughout their professional journey? 

Pennsylvania is always looking through an equity lens as it applies to our ECE workforce and the families and children we serve. This includes an equitable approach to the PD Registry. Our equitable approaches include ease of use to streamline processes, especially for individuals who are not tech savvy. The PD Registry team offers Spanish office hours to help answer individual questions pertaining to the PD Registry. In the near future, users will be able to select the language of their preference to navigate the system.

Other equitable approaches include tuition reimbursement to help ECE professionals attain a higher level on the Career Pathway. In addition to this, Professional Development Organizations partnering with OCDEL have user roles within the system to access education records and career pathway placements to help ECE professionals with career advisement. The ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) application was also housed in the PD Registry to allow programs to apply for federal funding to relieve the burden of financial loses during COVID. This initiative fueled programs to be registered in the PD Registry which also helped programs get prepared with the launch of the QRIS system. Creating a “one stop shop” for programs to document and track all professional needs both programmatically and individually saved valuable time for staff and Directors/Owners.


What role has the National Workforce Registry Alliance (NWRA) played to support the workforce registry and professional development efforts in your state?

The National Workforce Registry Alliance has been a valuable asset in so many ways to Pennsylvania. Most importantly is the collaboration between state registry leaders through ongoing Director roundtables, Community of Practices, the listserv, and the annual Registry Conference. Collaborating with other states on what enhancements are being made in the registries to create fully functioning workforce systems has been valuable to capture a true picture of the ECE workforce. Sharing ideas, policies, and procedures helps shed light on enhancements to our system to in turn create high quality programs for the families and children we serve.

The Partners in Employment Reporting (PER) was one of our biggest accomplishments with the support of the NWRA. It allowed us to review our data, polices, and procedures to ensure we were collecting the best aggregate data to collect a snapshot of the ECE workforce in Pennsylvania.

The NWRA is a tightknit organization that has grown to include national organization leaders over the years. Understanding what is happening in other states and within national organizations helps Pennsylvania make informed decisions to elevate the quality and care within our programs.