Professional Development

What is Professional Development in Early Childhood Education?

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) defines professional development as initial preparation (preservice) and learning experiences (inservice) designed to improve the knowledge, skills/behaviors, and attitudes/values of the early childhood workforce. It is necessary to have a highly competent workforce for the early childhood field and professional development provides the path to achieving this goal.*

* To read NAEYC’s complete Position Statement on Early Childhood Professional Development, click here.

Pennsylvania's Professional Development Registry

The Professional Development Registry is a learning management system (LMS) that supports the professional development of Pennsylvania's early learning and school-age workforce. Using this system, each early learning and school-age professional can create and manage a personal professional development plan, access hundreds of courses offered throughout the state and online, print certificates for completed courses at any time, and view a transcript containing a personal history of professional development achievements and PQAS (Pennsylvania Quality Assurance System) credit hours.

Authorized PQAS instructors and professional development organizations can post the courses they offer, manage enrollments, view and print class rosters, and keep track of attendees. Early learning and school-age facility directors can monitor the professional development of staff members, purchase and distribute course catalog credit to their staff, and ensure compliance with State regulations for professional development related to the programs they offer. State and regional administrators can run reports with valuable information about early learning and school-age programs, facilities, and the workforce in general. This information will enable administrators to gain insight into the demand for specific areas of professional development, which will help with forecasting, planning, and delivery.

To read more information about the PD Registry, click here.

What is approved professional development in Pennsylvania?

To determine what is “approved” professional development or professional development that “counts,” early childhood and school-age programs must first consider what regulation or requirement they are trying to satisfy. 

DHS Certification: The certification requirement is for the professional development to meet the same standards as for Keystone STARS Quality Initiative and be in an appropriate content area, as defined by DHS. If there is a question about whether a professional development event will “count” for regulations, practitioners should contact their local DHS Certification office. The requirement is that center, group, and family staff will need six hours of approved professional development per year and Relative/Neighbor providers need 12 hours of approved professional development every two years. 

Keystone STARS Quality Initiative: For each of the following types of professional development approved for Keystone STARS, coursework must be related to the early childhood or school-age field, as outlined in the Pennsylvania Core Knowledge Competencies: 

1. College credit offered through an accredited institution of higher education. Please refer to page 3 of the Early Childhood Education Teacher Quality document, found at, Career Development, and then Requirements on the left hand menu, to determine if your institution of higher education is accredited. 

2. Act 48/Act 45 professional development, which has been approved as acceptable for Act 48/45 hours through the Pennsylvania Department of Education. 

3. CEUs approved through a recognized professional association, college/university or other specialty organization. 

4. Pennsylvania Quality Assurance System (PQAS) hours offered by PQAS approved Professional Development Instructor or Technical Assistant Consultant. 

Other Accreditations or Funding Streams:  Early childhood programs that are participating in other quality improvement initiatives (Ex: NAEYC Accreditation or NAFCC Accreditation) or have multiple funding streams (Ex: Head Start or Pre-K Counts funding) should review the professional development requirements for these programs to ensure that they meet all expectations. 

To read more about career development in Pennsylvania, click here.