MEDA Community Leadership Development Manager Lucia Obregon
Mission Promise Neighborhood Early Learning Program Manager Ada Alvarado Freund
Wednesday was an important day in San Francisco, as the “Eighth Annual Walk Around the Block” took place. Enthusiastic families — accompanied by staff from child care centers and early education programs — gathered on City Hall’s steps to make their collective voices heard.
The ask? That local leaders fully support the funding of quality child care and early education in San Francisco.
Why early education matters
Early education is essential for children ages 0-5 because our little ones are born ready to learn, with 80 percent of the human brain developed in the first three years of life. This is a crucial period for our young children, and they are at of risk not reaching developmental milestones if there is not a proper support system in place.
An affluent city such as San Francisco needs to invest in our most vulnerable population. With the proper support of parents, early learning educators and an invested community, we can foster lifelong learners when our young children receive the cognitive stimulation in a quality early learning program.
There is a dire need for more child care slots in San Francisco: Over 2,500 children are on the waiting list for subsidized care, with low- and moderate-income families struggling to pay the exorbitant costs of such care. It is estimated that early care actually exceeds the price of attending a California State University.
The Mission is a microcosm of the need. For children under age 5, there are currently 579 families awaiting early learning care — all of whom would qualify for subsidy care if Prop C passes. Children’s Council San Francisco data indicates that since March 2018 there have been 222 children in the 94110 ZIP code waiting to be placed in an early learning program (that’s 9 percent of the SF3C waitlist.) Close to 15 percent of children in the 94110 ZIP code are receiving subsidy care, including those in Mission Neighborhood Center’s Head Start programs.
This isn’t just about the kids who deserve quality education — it is also about their dedicated teachers. According to the San Francisco Child Care Providers’ Association, early learning educators on average earn $19 an hour, which is $7.60 an hour below the San Francisco self-sufficiency wage for a single adult in San Francisco. That average hourly rate is considerably less than an SFUSD teacher with a bachelor’s degree earns in their first year of teaching.
“Eighth Annual Walk Around the Block” event
One of the most impactful scenes at the “Eighth Annual Walk Around the Block” event were the Collective Action Network panels, made by the Early Care and Education Network. These panels described the extraordinary lengths to which child care educators go to stay in the San Francisco to pursue the job they love.
A profound message on a panel stated:
“We love our jobs! We love teaching children skills they will use all their lives, how to get along and love learning! But I can’t afford to stay! With my experience and education, I’m qualified for higher-paying job!”
A June 2018 ballot initiative, Prop C, aims to close the gap of early childhood learning. The event’s speakers included Board of Supervisor Norman Yee, who co-authored Prop C, and Sandra Lee Fewer, a supporter of the measure.
They both expounded their hopes for Prop C to:
- Bring high-quality early care and education for families in San Francisco earning up to 200 percent of the Area Median Income AMI.
- Clear the existing waitlist that has been growing in San Francisco. Most of the families on the waiting list are at or below the 85 percent AMI.
- Increase wages for early care and education providers to ensure a well-trained, stable, quality workforce.
- Invest in comprehensive Early Childhood Education (ECE) services that support physical, emotional and cognitive development of children under the age of 6.
The overall message: we can do better for our kids and educators.