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Strategies for supporting early childhood in San Francisco

How PPI worked with the Childcare Planning and Advisory Council and the Department of Early Childhood on the City's first comprehensive asset map for young kids.

San Francisco makes a significant investment in resources for early childhood; that investment is spread across many City agencies and non-profit partners. Multiple agencies have funded needs assessments and strategic plans for this population in recent years. But precisely because so many agencies have seats at the table, it is difficult to get a single, comprehensive view of San Francisco’s  programming and supports for young children and their families.

Sponsoring agencies

Seeking to build upon existing service mapping projects, the Child Care Planning & Advisory Council (CPAC), Family Resource Center Alliance (FRC Alliance), San Francisco Early Care & Education Advocacy Coalition (SF ECE AC), and the Department of Early Childhood (DEC) engaged Partners in Public Innovation to develop an asset map of services and supports for 0-5 children and their families in San Francisco.

Check out the full report here

0-5 Mapping Report
Download PDF • 4.30MB

What we did

PPI conducted a comprehensive mapping effort of San Francisco programs focused on supporting families with young children. Major steps of this effort included:

  • Framework development: We explored existing frameworks for supporting child and family development and ultimately developed a new framework for supporting children ages 0-5 and their parents/caregivers in San Francisco.

  • Document review: We reviewed relevant strategic plans, budget reports, needs assessments, service maps, and other reports, with a goal of synthesizing existing research rather than reinventing the wheel.

  • Stakeholder interviews: We conducted 26 stakeholder interviews to gather information on department and organization services.

  • Programmatic analysis: Through the course of our interviews and document review, we developed a comprehensive list of 69 City-funded programs for young children and their caregivers. We coded these programs by factors including framework category and target population and summarized the findings.

This outcomes framework was developed collaboratively with sponsoring agencies.


PPI's analysis included developing a data set of all identified programs, coding that data set by factors including framework category and sponsoring agency, and summarizing these services by the child and family needs they are targeting at each child life stage. We also summarized themes from our interviews and document review.

Programs summarized by primary funding agency.

Major themes that emerged from that analysis and from qualitative interview findings included:

  • Programmatic strengths, including robust investment supporting young children and their families, improving wages for ECE staff, expansion of access to quality ECE settings, and the Family Resource Center initiative.

  • Service gaps, including special education, early intervention, and mental health services; workforce recruitment and retention; culturally and linguistically responsive services; and basic needs.

  • Coordination issues, including a diffuse network of services that is challenging to navigate, a lack of transparent budget info about 0-5 investment, DEC's emerging leadership and funding role, and the upcoming rollout of universal pre-K.

Next steps

We worked with sponsors to identify a set of recommendations for San Francisco to coordinate services and supports for young children and their caregivers, partner with parents and educators, and focus on early intervention and prevention:

  • Create community-friendly budget breakdowns.

  • Help families make easy connections to an integrated set of services in the early childhood system of care.

  • Create a robust, centralized source of citywide program information and referrals for both providers and families

  • Leverage existing general City services to connect families and providers to appropriate resources

  • Make DEC the leader for Citywide early childhood issues that previously had no clear owner.

  • Develop better handoffs for kids entering SFUSD

  • Supplement Early Intervention services and Mental Health services

  • Build on Workforce Compensation Initiative efforts by further supporting early childhood educators and expanding workforce supports to other family-serving professionals.

  • Assess changing needs in the ECE system in anticipation of universal pre-K rollout.

  • Provide additional resources for Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care

Want to know more? Check out the full report!

0-5 Mapping Report
Download PDF • 4.30MB

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