What is the Early Learning Scholarship (ELS)?

The Early Learning Scholarship provides eligible San Francisco families who have children 0-5 years old with financial assistance to pay for quality early care and education. More than 320 Early Care and Education Centers and Family Child Care Homes across San Francisco have been qualified to participate in this exciting new program that prioritizes quality and continuity of care, supports the ECE workforce, and ensures that San Francisco’s youngest children, especially those who have the most to gain from participating, have access to high-quality early care and education.

ELS funding will take effect on July 1, 2017. If you are interested in learning more about the Early Learning Scholarship Program please contact:

Children’s Council of San Francisco
445 Church Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
Resource and Referral Line: 415.343.3300

OR

Wu Yee Children’s Services
Family and Provider Services
880 Clay St., Floor 3
San Francisco, CA 94114
Resource and Referral Line: 844.644.4300

For a complete list of ELS-qualified providers please see the question below.

Which providers are qualified to serve families through the Early Learning Scholarship?

You can find a complete list of ELS-Qualified providers by clicking HERE.

Where can I get help finding and paying for early care and education?

The Children’s Council of San Francisco and Wu Yee Children’s Services help families and guardians find early care and education services.  These community based organizations are funded by the California Department of Social Services and the San Francisco Office of Early Care & Education to ensure all families have access to free personal assistance locating and choosing early care and education in San Francisco.

Children’s Council of San Francisco
445 Church Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
Resource and Referral Line: 415.343.3300 

Wu Yee Children’s Services
Family and Provider Services
880 Clay St., Floor 3
San Francisco, CA 94114
Resource and Referral Line: 844.644.4300

Why is early care and education so important?

Decades of research show that the environment of a child’s earliest years can have effects that last a lifetime. The importance of quality early child experiences and the impact in brain development is supported by numerous studies.

The research in early brain development in the first three years (and the earliest years of life) have serious implications for early education.  The early learning experiences are fundamental determining factors for the child’s development and will ultimately affect the child’s performance in school.  Quality early care and education promotes young children’s cognitive, physical, literacy, social and emotional development and supports school success – while supporting families.

How much do we invest in early care and education?

The Office of Early Care & Education (OECE) manages nearly $200 million dollars in federal, state, and local funding, as well as some foundation support. This funding provides financial assistance to eligible families to help pay for their early care and education with the goal of improving accessibility and affordability for San Francisco children and families.  OECE is charged with aligning local, state, and federal funding to ensure successful outcomes for children and their families.

How can I become a parent advocate for high-quality early care and education?

The Office of Early Care and Education meets approximately six times per year with our Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). The CAC consists of nine members appointed by the Mayor and Board of Supervisors and must include a parent or guardian of a child who is enrolled in a facility that provides early care and educations services, which includes child care, early care, preschool, infant and toddler care. If you are interested in applying for a seat on the CAC please click HERE and scroll to the bottom of the page for more information.

Additionally, Parent Voices is a statewide organization supporting parent efforts to take action on local, statewide, and national issues related to making high-quality early care and education affordable and accessible to all families.  If you are interested in being a parent advocate or simply learning more about their work connect with them:

State Level Parent Voices
California Child Care Resource and Referral Network
111 new Montgomery Street, 7th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone: 415.882.0234

Local Level Parent Voices
Children’s Council San Francisco
445 Church Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
Phone: 415.276.2900

Where can I learn more about child care licensing in California?

The California Child Care Licensing website has online resources for parents and families regarding the licensing process and what to look for when choosing child care.   Please visit CDSS for more information.

What is Preschool for All?

Preschool for All (PFA) offers universal access to preschool to all 4-year old children living in San Francisco. Since 2004, our partner, First 5 San Francisco, has administered the PFA program. As of October 1, 2016, the Office of Early Care and Education (OECE) will be administering the Preschool for All program. OECE and First 5 San Francisco continue to partner to provide preschool access to families, and ensure that providers continue to offer quality care to San Francisco’s preschoolers.

PFA has provided reduced cost preschool in the form of a tuition credit to all families regardless of need or family income, at both private and public preschools.

How old does my child have to be to enroll in a PFA preschool?

Participating PFA schools are limited. So that your child is able to benefit, it is recommended that you locate a school, apply, and enroll when your child is still 3 for the best chances of obtaining a spot. Children must turn 4 on or before December 2nd of the year they will be enrolled. While the program is not designed for kindergarten-aged children, exceptions are made for children with documented special needs or who require an extra year of preschool.

How do I apply to a PFA preschool?

In order for families to qualify for the preschool tuition credit, their child must turn 4 years old on or before December 2nd of the year in which they will be enrolled. Parents and guardians should identify PFA preschools of interest, and contact them directly, as each program has its own unique application process and timeline. Click here to see all PFA preschool locations.

In addition, parents and guardians may contact a Resource & Referral agency for additional guidance on the preschool enrollment process,

  • Children’s Council (Spanish bilingual) – 415-343-3300
  • Wu Yee Children’s Services (Chinese bilingual) – 844-644-4300

Resource & Referral agencies are able to counsel parents about early care options; offer educational materials on how to select high-quality care; and provide parents with referrals to quality licensed early care facilities.

How much does Preschool for 4-year-olds Cost?

For many state- and federally-funded preschools (i.e., State Preschool, Head Start), programs are free or of minimal cost to families. For private programs or public programs serving tuition-based children, programs could either be free if they are part-day programs, or tuition costs would be significantly reduced for families if they are enrolled in full-day programs. The amount of the tuition reduction (via the tuition credit) depends on the individual preschool, but is typically about 25%.

Who should I contact if I have more questions about Preschool for All?

We encourage you to call our PFA Information Line at 415-354-3873 if you have questions regarding PFA preschool locations or the tuition credit available to all families regardless of need and income.

For information about the preschool enrollment or how to be screened for eligibility for other helpful preschool resources, contact a Resource & Referral agency below,

  • Children’s Council (Spanish bilingual) – 415-343-3300
  • Wu Yee Children’s Services (Chinese bilingual) – 844-644-4300