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Building a Coordinated System of Care Through Strong Relationships: Family Resource Center and Early Care and Education Staff Meet, Greet, and Share

Three women stand in front of Department of Early Childhood vertical banner

DEC was created to better align and coordinate all City-funded supports available to families with children from prenatal to five. Funding and oversight of critical family supports like the Family Resource Center Initiative, financial assistance for early care and education, child development and early intervention supports, and early childhood mental health used to be scattered across many different City departments. Now, all these resources are part of DEC’s comprehensive “system of care.”  And behind each component of our system of care are the dedicated staff who operate our funded programs and services. 

Building a more coordinated system for our children and families starts with building strong relationships between the people who educate, care for, and support them every day. That is why on March 21 2024, we brought together over 100 representatives from Family Resource Centers, Early Care and Education programs, Resource and Referral agencies, and Family and Educator Advocacy organizations at the beautiful Southeast Community Center to meet, greet, and share their work with each other.

The event kicked off with a mindfulness exercise led by one of DEC’s Masters of Social Work interns. The exercise helped attendees focus on the present moment and allowed them to connect with each other on a deeper level. Then, representatives from Early Head Start / Head Start, the San Francisco Unified School District, the Family Child Care Association, and San Francisco’s Resource and Referral Agencies presented information on their program offerings, eligibility requirements, and access points. Finally, attendees participated in an exhibitor walk, learning about each of the City’s 26 family resource centers, the services they offer, and awesome family-friendly events they have coming up as part of DEC’s Week of the Young Child

DEC program officers also hosted a table, collecting valuable information from staff across the system of care on how we can do even more to create cross-sector relationships, programs, and services. This data will be used to make it easier for families to access the information and support they want and need through the people and places they already know and love. 

We often talk about “warm hand-offs” when referring families from one service to another. When staff can put a face to a name and phone number, can reach out in advance to let their colleagues know a family will be contacting them, can prep each other with background information so the family isn’t required to repeat themselves, that is what a warm hand-off looks like and that is the power of strong connections between early childhood practitioners and staff across settings and organizations.  This event was just one of the many ways DEC is working to put the pieces together across our system of care so families love living in San Francisco and children soar.