Embedding Early Care and Education Facilities into Family Housing

by Director of Community Real Estate Karoleen Feng
Contributed to by Senior Project Manager Elaine Yee, 
Mission Promise Neighborhood Program Manager Liz Cortez and Financial Capability Coach Teresa Garcia

Most parents know that finding quality care and education for your child is not easy. For immigrant, working families in San Francisco’s Mission District, it’s even more challenging, as showcased by the erroneous ICE raid at partner agency Good Samaritan Family Resource Center on Jan. 26. Turns out ICE was actually looking for somebody next door, but they nevertheless created an atmosphere of fear that morning for parents simply dropping off their children.

Finding quality care is particularly tough for those with infants and toddlers, where the demand for affordable quality care greatly outstrips the demand. Securing that care near home would be a dream come true.

For MEDA, early care and education is critical not just for our parents who daily come in through our doors — and Mission Promise Neighborhood (MPN) partners’ doors. Early care and education is also an important means of livelihood for a significant portion of the women business owners we serve.  For these home-based licensed child care providers, the housing eviction crisis has meant the loss of a home and a business in one fell swoop. We share the City of San Francisco’s vision for early care because it makes perfect academic and economic sense for our families.

Part of the reason for MEDA’s establishment of a Community Real Estate team was to rebuild the pipeline for affordable housing in the Mission and to deepen the community assets in that neighborhood. Being the lead agency of the Mission Promise Neighborhood helped MEDA to realize the critical importance of early child development and for each of our 100 percent affordable, family-housing properties that we have been awarded by the City, I have purposely placed such services as part of the programming. 

I have also directly advocated that as part of our lead role for the Mission Action Plan 2020, planning code and city incentives be established so that market-rate developers also meet the need for on-site early care and education in the neighborhood.

According to the San Francisco Early Care and Education Needs Assessment for 2012-2013, there are 4,100 children ages zero to five in the Mission. Approximately 2,300 are infants and toddlers (ages zero to two) and 1,800 are of preschool age (ages three to five). There is a huge disparity in the capacity to serve those infants and toddlers: There are 250 licensed family child care and center slots available, leaving 2,050 infants and toddlers without access to a formal licensed program. 

The preschool population, on the other hand, has more access to slots. Of the 1,800 preschool-age children, the Mission has the capacity to serve 1,300. November 2016  data from the San Francisco Children’s Council shows that 351 children ages zero to five were waiting for an opportunity to access an early care and education program. The number of children on the list does not include all families that are eligible, just the number of families that are aware of the San Francisco Child Care Connection (SF3C) and continue to stay active on that list. In fact, in 2012, there were 224 available subsides for infants and toddlers in the Mission, but the number of eligible families was just 853 (earnings below 70 percent of the State Median Income). The difference in unmet need for eligible children was 629 (74 percent).

Strategies at 2060 Folsom and 1990 Folsom
The first 100 percent affordable-housing development that was awarded to MEDA by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) was 2060 Folsom, which will offer 127 units for families, including 20 percent set aside for transitional-aged youth. 

As part of our proposal with our co-developer Chinatown CDC, I intentionally incorporated MPN’s vision of taking Mission children and youth on a cradle-to-college-to-career continuum. The plan was to couple services from Mission Neighborhood Center’s zero to three programs with Good Samaritan Family Resource Center’s pre-K work — a seamless bridge for the creation of a zero five child development center. The goal is eight infant, 12 toddler and 24 pre-school slots. To best meet these two agencies’ requirements to maximize services, MEDA staff has been collaborating carefully with these partners so that their needs will be met before ever coming into the building.

Knowing that we need more slots than the facility-based care could provide, and in keeping with MEDA’s work supporting child care businesses, we have designed a pair of two-bedroom residential units for a combination home-work space which will open out to a private courtyard for these estimated six to 12 kids.

Jamestown Community Center, a longtime provider of after-school programs, will also be moving its headquarters to the ground floor of the housing. PODER, which will also relocate its offices to the site, offers a youth component. This organization fought long and hard for the brand-new park that will anchor the 260 Folsom development.

Mirroring the strategy at 2060 Folsom, MEDA later submitted its RFP for nearby 143-unit 1990 Folsom, with the idea of incorporating early care and education services also part of the proposal. MOHCD awarded MEDA this project in September 2016.

The property at 1990 Folsom addresses the neighborhood’s substantive mismatch between supply and demand by dedicating approximately 3,000 square feet of space at the ground floor for a child-development center to be jointly managed by Mission Neighborhood Centers and Good Samaritan Family Resource Center. Additionally, there will once again be two units set aside for tenants running a childcare business, for a combined total of six to 12 children.

Looking forward
As 2017 begins, my Community Real Estate team will continue to strategize with MEDA’s Business Development team, MPN staff and partners, as a means to provide updates from various areas of expertise and then shape the future development of early care and education facilities. We are hoping to place home-based providers in some of our smaller apartment buildings acquired through the Small Sites Program, so that they can be embedded in the community. 

Also, MEDA aims to align with the vision of San Francisco’s Office of Early Care and Education (OECE), created in 2012 and headed by Director September Jarrett. Community Real Estate and MPN have been having discussions with OECE to make sure that all developments are in synch with the agency’s goal, which is as follows:

OCEC is charged with aligning and coordinating federal, state and local funding streams to improve access to high quality early care and education for children zero to five, to address the needs of the early care and education workforce, and to build early care and education system capacity.

Topics of discussion include learning more about lease-up process for child care providers and more. It’s all about ironing out the process. 

I know this is essential as we move forward to ensure that all Mission children have access to early learning/child care programs.

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