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Our Initiatives

Learn about the initiatives we fund and lead.

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Early Learning

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Early Learning San Francisco

In San Francisco, DEC is on a mission to ensure that every child has equitable access to top-notch early care and education that doesn’t break the bank. These programs play a pivotal role in supporting the holistic growth of children, encompassing their cognitive, physical, and social-emotional development.

DEC’s Early Learning San Francisco network includes over 450 early care and education programs. What’s more, DEC ensures that the majority of San Francisco families can enroll their children in these programs without financial barriers. The outcome is quality early education that is accessible and affordable for all families in the city.

Early Learning San Francisco - Program Quality

DEC’s Early Learning San Francisco (ELS) program partners are committed to providing high quality care that supports children’s optimal development. That is why DEC provides continuous quality improvement support through quality frameworks, standards, coaching, training, and other quality improvement supports. This creates a powerful professional development path for early educators to keep growing and shaping the future of our city.

Early Learning San Francisco - Facilities

Safe, beautiful, and inspiring facilities are pivotal in ensuring every child has a high-quality early care and education experience. DEC strategically invests to improve and update existing early care and education facilities as well as to develop new facilities to increase San Francisco’s licensed early learning capacity, eliminate neighborhood-specific child care deserts, and ensure equitable access to state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor spaces that spark children’s imagination, creativity, and learning.

DEC is also a lead partner and funder in San Francisco’s Children & Nature Collaborative which works to ensure all children & youth growing up in the city have the opportunity to play, learn and grow in nature daily. We fund the collaborative to enhance the outdoor play spaces of early care and education facilities for increased connection with nature, to train early educators in nature-based education, and to provide developmentally appropriate nature-based learning tools and toys.

Workforce Compensation Initiative

Early childhood educators (ECE) are a critical part of the fabric of San Francisco, essential in shaping brighter futures for our youngest residents. DEC recognizes their invaluable contributions and is dedicated to ensuring that these committed professionals receive fair compensation for their vital work.

To turn this commitment into reality, DEC has launched the Workforce Compensation Initiative, fueled by voter-approved Proposition C funding. This initiative makes it possible for San Francisco to sustainably compensate early educators working in Early Learning San Francisco (ELS) centers and Family Child Care (FCC) programs, laying the foundation of quality early care and education across the city for years to come.

Child Health

Screening and Inclusion

All children deserve to reach their full potential. Early intervention makes that possible. DEC’s screening and inclusion initiative provides free developmental screenings to every family in San Francisco, and access to early intervention services for families that need them. Throughout the process, DEC ensures that families get the support and coordination of services that they need to make sure that children have the healthiest possible development.

Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

At DEC, we’re here to support the well-being of your child’s mind and behavior in San Francisco’s City-funded early care and education programs and family resource centers. We team up with experts in early childhood mental health who work closely with teachers, staff at family resource centers, and families. We offer a range of services, including on-site observation and consultation, intervention modeling, teacher trainings, and resource referrals. It’s all part of our effort to make sure that your children’s mental and behavioral health is supported with care and understanding.

Child Care Health Program

The Child Care Health Program (CCHP) is a joint effort between the Maternal Child and Adolescent Health Division of the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) and DEC. Together, we’ve assembled a diverse team of health care professionals, including multilingual Public Health Nurses, Health Workers, a Registered Dental Hygienist, and a Certified Audiometrist, to deliver essential health screenings and services to children at their early care and education programs ensuring that all young children in San Francisco receive top-notch, coordinated health support.

Family Strength

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Family Resource Center Initiative

Spread across the city, 26 Family Resource Centers serve as warm and inviting community centers that offer families a safe space to come together and grow. They offer innovative, culturally-responsive activities and classes designed not only to sharpen parenting skills but also to nurture the early development of children. But it’s not just about parents and kids; these centers embrace a multigenerational approach, recognizing that the well-being of the entire family matters. They are dedicated to forging connections, fostering relationships, and building a close-knit community where everyone can thrive together.