City of San Francisco Launches Early Learning Scholarship System
After several years of planning, San Francisco’s new Early Learning Scholarship (ELS) system rolled out on July 1. The Office of Early Care & Education is funding Children’s Council and Wu Yee Children’s Services to provide an array of supports to child care providers in our community, as we all work together to implement this new system.
For more information on supports being offered by the Office of Early Care & Education visit their website or call 415.355.3670.
For more information on supports being offered by Wu Yee Children’s Services visit their website or call 415.677.0100.
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Early Learning Scholarship payment system:
You may also find this sample Early Learning Scholarship Payment Explanation PDF helpful.
Here at Children’s Council, our team is on stand-by to answer any questions you may have about the ELS system.
Call or click on the names of our staff members below to send us an email.
Family Child Care Quality Network Coaches support ELS child care providers with:
- Developing a plan to build capacity and improving your Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)
- Rating, scheduling assessments, and connecting to training opportunities.
- Information about ELS and other City systems that support family child care
Eva Cen 415.343.3312
Mae Feng 415.276.2964
Yvette Gaines 415.276.2919
Roberta Gonzalez 415.343.3382
Lidia Saavedra 415.343.4673
Mandy Yee 415.276.2959
Subsidy Provider Coordinators support providers with:
- Determining which enrolled children are ELS City Reserve and ELS City Voucher
- Understanding your monthly voucher payment
- Calculation and payment dates
Natalia Estay 415.343.3382 (Spanish)
Noel Sanchez 415.343.4752 (Spanish)
Melissa Yan 415.343.4733 (Cantonese)
Cui Wen Zhang 415.276.2954 (Cantonese & Mandarin)
Cocoa Support Experts support ELS Reserved providers with:
- Utilizing Cocoa, the web-based data system to track family demographics and child enrollment, attendance, screenings and assessments used in the Early Learning Scholarship system
- Cocoa overview trainings
- One-on-One support
Emily Kraybill 415.343.3358
Food Program Specialists support providers with:
- Guidance on food service, meal planning, nutrition, budgeting, program management and record keeping
- Access to nutrition workshops featuring nutrition information, recipes, and a review of program requirements
- Technical assistance and site visits
Carmen Chan 415.343.3303
Julisa Nunez 415.355.6286
Venus Savea 415.276.2903
If you are a family interested in an Early Learning Scholarship, apply to the waiting list at sfcel.org or contact Children’s Council at 415.276.2900.
More About the Early Learning Scholarship System
Overall, the new system brings many innovations. The Early Learning Scholarship system…
- Targets kids most at risk of not being ready for kindergarten, while stretching local dollars to serve more kids by better leveraging state and federal funding.
- Increases low-income kids’ access to high-quality care; all participating child care providers engage in continuous quality improvement and are paid at higher rates than the prior system.
- When fully implemented, the system will be simpler for parents and providers; community-based partner Children’s Council is improving the way low-income kids access subsidized care; and it, along with Wu Yee Children’s Services, are aligning systems for engaging families and increasing child care providers’ quality.
What Parents Need to Know:
The Early Learning Scholarship (ELS) system consolidates a patchwork of early care and education subsidy programs into Early Learning Scholarships.
- Parents with incomes up to 85% of state median income ($68,388 for a family of 4) are eligible for an ELS. Once receiving subsidized care, families can stay in the program until they reach 110% of area median income ($118,452 for a family of 4).
Families have a choice of nearly 400 child care providers across the city, all of which are participating in quality improvement efforts.
Families apply for Early Learning Scholarships through San Francisco Child Care Connection (SF3C) administered by Children’s Council.
- Children with special needs or who are African-American, Latino, English-language learners, homeless or involved in the court system are given priority. However, funding is still insufficient to serve all eligible families, so many will still wait for care.
Families will experience more seamless services:
- Once a child has an Early Learning Scholarship, the city will continue funding even if the child would otherwise lose eligibility.
- A Children’s Council case manager will guide parents through the child care search process, follow them on their child care journey, and connect them to the community services they need.
What Providers Need to Know:
Pre-qualified child care providers will be paid higher rates to reflect the cost of providing quality child care.
- Earlier in 2017, 111 centers and 268 family child care homes were pre-qualified to care for children with Early Learning Scholarships through an application process with the SF Office of Early Care and Education.
- Pre-qualified providers caring for kids with Early Learning Scholarships and those caring for kids with state- or federally-funded subsidies will receive this higher rate.
- Providers caring for children with state/federal subsidies (i.e., CalWORKs, Alternative Payment, Title 5, Head Start) will receive an “ELS-Gap” payment to make up the difference between the amount the state/federal government pays providers and the cost of providing quality care.
- Pre-qualified providers have committed to continuous quality improvement and to meeting a standard of quality (Tier 3 on the Quality Rating Improvement System) by 2020.
- All pre-qualified providers will receive coaching and professional development to enhance the quality of early education and care. Family child care providers will receive support through one of two Family Child Care Quality Networks led by Children’s Council and Wu Yee. Centers will receive support through SF Quality Connections.
The process for interested providers to qualify to become an Early Learning Scholarship-qualified provider is now closed. The San Francisco’s Office of Early Care and Education will decide when the process will we reopened to include new providers.