San Francisco’s newest city agency is the Department of Early Childhood(DEC). This Department, which merges the former San Francisco Office of Early Care & Education with First 5 San Francisco, expands the City’s capacity to bring you coordinated family support, child health services, and high-quality early care and education.
This work is being led by Ingrid Mezquita, formerly the Office of Early Care and Education Executive Director and, previously, the Executive Director for First 5 San Francisco. At the recent celebration of the 12th Annual ECE Preschool Graduation and the first Black ECE pipeline cohort graduation, she shared some thoughts with young families about what it means for San Francisco to have DEC by their side.
“The Department of Early Childhood is focused on supporting all children and families from prenatal to age five and those who care for them so that they can be healthy, valued, thriving members of our community.
The first five years of life set children up for long-term success, and the Department of Early Childhood is here to ensure that all of you – our children, their families, and their providers – have everything they need during these special early years.
Together we are building an ever-evolving network of care combining early learning, family support, and child health services to create a family-friendly City where all children flourish.”
With this vision in mind, DEC is continuing and strengthening its partnerships with over 400 early learning programs across the City, providing high-quality early care and education to approximately 8,000 of San Francisco’s youngest residents. Programs like Felton, where Mezquita shared these words, create opportunities for students to thrive and develop new skills through research-based early care and education services while celebrating their diverse cultures, languages, backgrounds, and beliefs.
“We know systemic racism impacts children’s access to high-quality, culturally responsive early learning opportunities,” Mezquita calls out. “This is unacceptable and something my team and I are working aggressively to resolve [in San Francisco].” Programs like the Black ECE Pipeline demonstrate a deliberate strategy to guide and support future early educators on a pathway of continuous professional development and recognize the importance of investing in early educators who represent and understand the diverse children and families we serve.
For more information on DEC’s work and to stay up to date with our progress, follow us on social media!