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 94108
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 94108
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 the Preschool For All Tuition Credit program?

The Preschool for All Tuition Credit program helps to reduce preschool costs and is open to all families, regardless of need or income, at preschools that partner with the Office of Early Care & Education, subject to funding availability. To be eligible for the tuition credit, families must live in San Francisco and, their child must turn 4 on or before December 2nd of the school year they will be enrolled. The tuition credit helps families support their child’s enrollment costs through Kindergarten entry. For more information on the Preschool For All Tuition Credit program, please contact 415-355-3660, or elisa.baeza@sfgov.org (Spanish bilingual). If needed, OECE may connect you with Chinese speaking staff.

How old does my child have to be to quality for the Preschool For All Tuition Credit program?

The number of preschools that participate in the Preschool For All Tuition Credit program is limited. So that your child is able to benefit, it is recommended that you locate a preschool by clicking here, contact them to learn about their enrollment process, and apply when your child is still 3 for the best chances of obtaining a spot in the Preschool For All Tuition Credit Program. Children must turn 4 on or before December 2nd of the year they will be enrolled; children who are 3 years old do are not eligible for funding. While the program is not designed for children older than the cut-off, exceptions are made for children with documented special needs or who require an extra year of preschool (e.g., TK-aged children).

How do I apply for the Preschool For All Tuition Credit program?

The Preschool for All Tuition Credit program offers access to preschool to all 4-year old children living in San Francisco. The number of preschools that participate in the Preschool For All Tuition Credit program is limited. So that your child is able to benefit, it is recommended that you locate a preschool by clicking here, contact them to learn about their enrollment process, and apply when your child is still 3 for the best chances of obtaining a spot in the Preschool For All Tuition Credit Program. The program is available to all families regardless of need or income, subject to funding availability. To be eligible for the tuition credit, families must live in San Francisco, and their child must turn 4 on or before December 2nd of the school year they will be enrolled.

Parents/guardians may apply to the Preschool For All Tuition Credit program by directly applying to one or more of the participating preschools. Parents/guardians should identify which of the participating preschools they are interested in and contact them directly. Each program has its own unique application process and enrollment timeline. The participating preschool will let the parent/guardian know if they have openings for the Preschool for All Tuition Credit program. Click here for a list of preschools that partner with the Office of Early Care & Education.

For more information on the Preschool For All Tuition Credit program, please contact 415-355-3660, or elisa.baeza@sfgov.org (Spanish bilingual). If needed, OECE may connect you with Chinese speaking staff.

For additional guidance on the preschool enrollment process, please contact a childcare Resource & Referral agency below:

  • Children’s Council (multiple language capacity) 415-343-3300
  • Wu Yee Children’s Services (multiple language capacity) 1-844-644-4300

Resource & Referral agencies 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 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 or public programs serving tuition-based children, programs could be partially or completely subsidized, depending on the need and eligibility of a family. The Preschool For All Tuition Credit program offers families a tuition rebate at private and public tuition-based programs.

In San Francisco, all families regardless of income may be required to pay some amount of their preschool costs. If a child is enrolled in the Preschool for All Tuition Credit program, the family will need to pay the difference between the cost of tuition and the Tuition Credit funded by OECE, which is $4,208 annually.

If a child is enrolled in OECE’s other funding programs (called Early Learning Scholarship), they may need to pay a family fee determined by their income and family size. Some families who may be very low income, are homeless, or are involved in the child welfare system do not pay a family fee. For more details on the family fee schedule, click here. Parents/guardians should directly contact the preschools they are interested in to learn more about their preschool costs (i.e., tuition rates, application fees, etc.). The Family Fee schedule does not apply to families enrolled in the Preschool For All Tuition Credit program.

Who should I contact if I have more questions about the Preschool For All Tuition Credit program?

The Preschool for All Tuition Credit program offers access to preschool to all 4-year old children living in San Francisco. The program is offered at select preschools that partner with the Office of Early Care & Education and is available to all families regardless of need or income, subject to funding availability. To be eligible for the tuition credit, families must live in San Francisco, and their child must turn 4 on or before December 2nd of the school year they will be enrolled.  For more information about the Preschool For All Tuition Credit program, please contact 415-355-3660, or elisa.baeza@sfgov.org (Spanish bilingual). If needed, OECE may connect you with Chinese speaking staff.