Early childhood goes by in the blink of an eye, which means children and families do not have time to spare on a waitlist for early care and education. DEC made targeted investments to get children off the waitlist and into classrooms to ensure a strong start to their education and development. Since Prop C passed in 2018, there has been a 72% reduction in the overall number of children waiting to enroll in a City-funded early care and education program through the Early Learning SF waitlist, and that includes a 70% reduction for both infants and toddlers on the waitlist.
When voters approved Baby Prop C funding, there were close to 4,000 families who were eligible for early care and education subsidies who were not receiving them due to lack of available funding. These families were placed on a waitlist, often for years at a time. Clearing this waitlist was a top priority for San Francisco’s voters. With the initial roll-out of Prop C funding, San Francisco made a huge dent in the waitlist, but many parents of infants and toddlers still could not access care. The problem was no longer lack of funds, but rather lack of available spaces licensed to serve children birth-2. That is why, over the last year DEC has aggressively invested in expanding infant and toddler care.
It has paid off. DEC’s unprecedented investment in expanding infant and toddler capacity in San Francisco’s early childhood network paved the way for an over 150% increase in infants and toddlers enrolled in Early Learning San Francisco’s (ELS) high quality early care and education programs throughout the city. Ninety percent of children’s brain development happens during their first five years. With Baby Prop C funding, DEC is ensuring that children and families get connected to high-quality early care and education as soon as they need it.
While preschool participation has decreased everywhere since the pandemic, San Francisco still leads the state and the nation in preschool participation, with preschool enrollment rates that are nearly 30 percentage points above the rates for California and the United States.
Find a free early care and education program that fits your family’s and child’s needs through Early Learning San Francisco (ELS).