COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information and Resources

Dear families and early learning partners,

The viral outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus) has created deep concerns for our families and community both locally and beyond. We understand the uncertainty of the situation and that a lack of clear information regarding city agencies’ responses can increase anxiety and frustration.

The Mayor has instructed OECE, and all other city departments, to provide public information in direct coordination with City officials. We hope this communication provides helpful information about mitigating the spread of the virus and OECE’s current approach related to emergency child care, program closures, and funding.

We will continue to update this page as new information becomes available.

Important: As per the Department of Public Health’s March 31, 2020 “Shelter in Place” Order, all child care programs should be closed through May 3, 2020 unless they are providing emergency child care for the children of “essential workers.” See below for more details.

Jump to Information for Families.


Information and Resources for Programs

Updated March 31, 2020 – The latest guidance from the City and County of San Francisco and the Department of Public Health states that while the “shelter in place” order is in effect (through May 3, 2020) all child care programs should remain closed unless they are providing emergency child care for the children of “essential workers” (as defined in section 13 the order). If you are a program owner or administrator interested in opening to provide emergency child care for essential workers, please contact Denise Corvino at

Otherwise, per the order, your program should remain closed and children should stay home. During closure, please list each child’s attendance as an “excused absence – policy related” and OECE will continue to reimburse for all city-funded enrollments (including PFA) through April 7, 2020. Any extensions to this funding will be determined by and are at the sole discretion of the San Francisco Controller’s Office.

Below are several additional resources to further clarify the current policy guidance and assist those programs interested in opening:


Information and Resources for Parents & Families

In accordance with the City’s recent Public Health Order to Shelter in Place, the best place for all children is at home with a parent or caregiver. However, the City recognizes that not all Essential Services Workers (ESWs) can do this. The San Francisco Emergency Child Care Program for Young Children supports ESW families unable to keep their children at home, so that they can continue to provide essential services.

The Emergency Child Care Program for Young Children aims to provide high-quality care for children (up to age 5) of Essential Services Workers (ESWs), as defined by the City’s Public Health Order to Shelter in Place.  Skilled early educators experienced in working with young children will provide care in licensed, City-funded early care and education programs located throughout San Francisco. The Emergency Child Care Program for Young Children takes place in modified environments with activities that reduce group sizes, increase social distancing, and help mitigate the health risks to children, families, and staff. The program is free of charge to participating ESW families.

How will Emergency Child Care Spaces be prioritized?

The City is continuing to work with early care and education programs to increase the number of available child care spaces, but due to initial constraints and limited capacity, the City may need to prioritize certain categories of ESW families. If current demand exceeds capacity, the City will prioritize access as it has already done for school-age children.  The following ESW categories will be prioritized for enrollment:

Healthcare Workers, meaning specifically:

  • San Francisco Department of Public Health employees or employees at its Community Clinics OR
  • Staff at the following San Francisco-based hospitals:
    • VA Medical Center
    • Kaiser SF
    • Chinese Hospital
    • CPMC – Van Ness
    • CPMC – Mission Bernal
    • CPMC – Davies
    • St. Mary’s Medical Center
    • Saint Francis
    • SF General
    • UCSF – Parnassus
    • UCSF – Mission Bay

Disaster Service Workers, meaning specifically:

  • Employees of the City and County of San Francisco who are activated as Disaster Service Workers (DSWs) to help with the City’s coronavirus response.

If current capacity allows, or as additional sites open, children of other categories of essential workers may be enrolled. The City encourages all essential workers needing care for their young children to apply. Any children of essential workers already enrolled at participating Emergency Child Care sites may remain in their programs without interruption.

How to Apply

If you are an Essential Service Worker (ESW) as defined by the City’s Public Health Order to Shelter in Place and are unable to keep your child(ren) at home, you can apply for the Emergency Child Care Program for Young Children by submitting a Request for Emergency Care to Children’s Council of San Francisco.

After you submit your request a member of the Children’s Council staff will be in contact with you as soon as possible with more information.


NOTE: The Emergency Child Care Program for Young Children is for children who have not yet entered kindergarten. If you require care for a school-age child (grades K-12), please visit DCYF’s website instead.


How to Stay Informed

The status of COVID-19 in San Francisco and the Bay Area is changing rapidly, and the City is on top of all developments. To stay informed, check the online resources below for up-to-the-minute updates, call 3-1-1 for guidance regarding COVID-19 public health safety information, and sign up to receive official updates from the City & County about COVID-19 via text message by texting COVID19SF to 888-777.