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Press Release:  Mayor Breed’s Children and Family Recovery Plan Delivers Major Results in Early Care and Education

This press release was originally published February 27, 2024 on SF.GOV. Read the original here.

Landmark educator pay initiative and investments in facilities and vouchers for low-income families has dramatically doubled number children receiving early care and education support and cut wait list for families by over 70% 

San Francisco, CA – Today, Mayor London N. Breed and Supervisor Myrna Melgar announced the City has hit significant milestones thanks to strategic investments in early care and education. The Mayor and Supervisor joined leaders from the Department of Early Childhood (DEC) to share successes in the early education field and highlighted outcomes from the department’s Annual Impact Report, including: 

  • Helped More Children into Care and Education: Doubled the number of children receiving early care and education subsidies annually (from 6,000 to 12,000) in five years 
  • Increased Access to Care for Families: Cut the waitlist for subsidized early care and education by 72%  
  • Expanded Early Education Centers Citywide: The City has built or renovated more than 40 early care and education facilities over the last five years, 17 in the last year alone, creating space for 550 more children  
  • Supported a More Effective Workforce: Improved retention and recruitment by increasing salaries for over 1,600 educators, including a 47% increase in salary for educators at highest need centers over the last two years 

Mayor London Breed, in partnership with Supervisor Melgar, established the Department of Early Childhood (DEC) in October 2022 by merging First 5 and the Office of Early Care and Education to streamline services for children under six and their families. Since its inception, DEC implemented key early care and education strategies from Mayor Breed’s landmark Children and Family Recovery Plan to provide targeted support for children and families as they recover from the pandemic. 

A key part of the plan’s strategy is investing in initiatives around early educators’ compensation and retention, financing for early learning facilities, and the distribution of early care and education subsidies to target populations, such as parenting transition aged youth and low-income families.  

“In San Francisco, we are working every day to support families and our children because that is how we build a stronger, more resilient city,” said Mayor Breed. “As someone who benefitted from support growing up in San Francisco, I know how important it is to reach our young people at an early age to set them up for success and for working parents to feel supported by this City. I want to thank Supervisor Melgar, our early education stakeholders, and the community for helping us get to this place and for continuing these critical programs.” 

“We have made great strides establishing a foundation for early childhood programming that supports its workforce,” said Supervisor Melgar. “I am grateful to the Mayor and the growing movement of child care advocates fighting hard to meet our collective goal of a universal Early Care and Education system where every child will have access to quality child care. For every dollar we invest now, we will reap the benefits tenfold–attracting more families with children to stay in San Francisco.” 

“Our vision for the next 25 years starts here as we gather to celebrate a landmark achievement in our collective mission to nurture the potential of our youngest Californians. In review of the Annual Impact Report by the San Francisco Department of Early Childhood, I am proud to say that we stand on the threshold of a brighter future for our children and this City.” said Jackie Wong, Executive Director of First 5 California. “At the heart of this transformative journey is Mayor London Breed’s visionary leadership and unwavering commitment to early childhood development. Her dedication has been instrumental in propelling San Francisco to the forefront of comprehensive early childhood systems, not just within our state but across the nation.” 

This work is funded by Proposition C, also known as “Baby C”, a commercial rent tax that generates dedicated funding for high quality early childhood experiences approved by voters in 2018. In Fiscal Year 2022-2023, DEC invested $46 million in workforce compensation, $112 million in early care and education tuition, and $23 million in new childcare facilities. 

“We are filled with hope and determination for the future as we reflect on the past year’s inspiring results. Our Mayor’s unwavering support has given us confidence that after several tough years, this is just the beginning of a remarkable recovery plan for children and families in San Francisco,” said Department of Early Childhood Executive Director Ingrid X. Mezquita. “We have made significant progress in expanding access to high-quality early care and education programs by adding 40 childcare sites, developing 17 new facilities for over 550 children, and reducing waitlists by 72%. These efforts are critical in ensuring every child in San Francisco is prepared to thrive in kindergarten and beyond.” 

Enrolling More Low-Income Families 

Over last five years, San Francisco has distributed more than50,000 child care subsidies. The City also expanded support for families to improve access to services. The multi-prong approach in conjunction with expanded facilities reduced the City’s waitlist for families seeking early childcare and education by 72%.   

Expanding Childcare Facilities  

Through groundbreaking investments, the City has built or renovated 40 childcare facilities over the last five years. This expanded access to early care and education for more than 550 children in San Francisco. Coupled with increased access to subsidized early care and education these strategic investments resulted in a 150% increase in infants and toddlers who enrolled in free quality care and education in one year. 

Landmark Pay Initiative 

To elevate and cultivate a more stable early care and education workforce, 892 early educators working in the highest need centers saw their salaries increase by 47% this year through Mayor Breed’s landmark workforce compensation initiative. 1,632 early educators saw an average annual wage increase of $12,336. 

“With higher wages, I’m able to afford better living conditions and have more financial stability. This helps me cover my rent and other living expenses more easily. Also, it makes me feel more valued and motivated in my profession,” said Jenny Li, Head Teacher/Site Supervisor, Cross Cultural Family Center. “Overall, the compensation increase has had a positive impact on me and my life.”     

The City and County of San Francisco remains committed to providing subsidized early childcare and education and investments in the early childhood workforce. The Children and Family Recovery Plan coordinates resources from across the City, amplifies community voices, advances advocacy efforts, and creates a roadmap of strategies to be implemented over a three-to-five-year span. Additional information may be found at this link