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Mayor Lee Announces Expansion of Quality Child Care Services for Homeless Families in San Francisco

Mayor will commit $2.1 million to provide child care services for 140 children under the age of five

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced a $2.1 million investment to provide child care services for 140 families experiencing homelessness currently waitlisted for child support programs.

This investment will expand the Accessible Child Care Expedited for the Shelter System (ACCESS) initiative, which provides child care services for families dealing with homelessness. With this expansion, the city will serve all eligible children under the age of the five on the ACCESS waitlist. As a result, these children and families will receive continuity of quality care until kindergarten. This is the Mayor’s latest investment to eliminate homelessness in San Francisco families.

“Families dealing with the stress of homelessness should not have to worry about the additional complications of child care,” said Mayor Lee. “We need to support families in every way possible to move them into a stable living situation, and childcare services are a part of that effort.”

The ACCESS homeless child care program was created in 2005 to provide homeless families with young children access to high quality child care. The ACCESS program currently serves an average of 150 children per year.

The program has been limited to serving children under the age of three, and a waitlist of more than 140 homeless children under the age of five exists today. Mayor Lee will expand funding for ACCESS by $2.1 million as a component of his budget proposal announcement later this month.

"Having childcare means I am able to work,” said Jackie Evans, who is enrolled in the ACCESS program. “After I had my baby, I didn't think I would be able to go back to my job. Then I found out about the program. Finding a childcare provider was taxing, but once I found one, it worked out perfectly."

The families currently on the waiting list include those who are unsheltered, in shelter, residing in overcrowded households, or living in SROs. Remaining in a nurturing quality child care setting can be a powerfully stabilizing influence for children and families experiencing homelessness of all kinds, and a key driver in breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

“Homeless and foster youth are the most vulnerable San Francisco residents and it is unconscionable that even one homeless child is on a waitlist for early childcare services,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safaí. “During the years when my children were in preschool, paying monthly tuition was equivalent to paying an additional second rent or a mortgage. I applaud Mayor Lee for taking swift action to fund early child care for all homeless children.”

“As a parent of a young daughter, I know how challenging it can be to find affordable and quality childcare in San Francisco,” said Supervisor Jeff Sheehy. “Expanding childcare services to additional 140 homeless children will provide them and their families critical support for a better future.”

“This funding will make a significant impact to close the funding gap for children 0 – 5 in need of continuity of care,” said Supervisor Norman Yee, who previously passed legislation to create the Infant and Toddler Early Learning Scholarship Fund. “The focus of this funding will be on infants and toddlers which are the least supported age group in San Francisco and this investment will help the most vulnerable homeless families gain access to quality care, which is a fundamental building block for children’s educational and emotional development.

“Every child should have a safe, enriching place to learn, grow and play,” said September Jarrett, Director of the Office of Early Care and Education. “Quality child care helps these children develop to their full potential and provides much-needed stability in their lives.”

“Quality child care and family support services are vital to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty,” said Martha Ryan, Executive Director, of Homeless Prenatal Program, which supports the expansion of the ACCESS program. “Child care is absolutely essential to give hope and opportunities to families. Without child care, how can you find housing, or get a job and earn a living to exit poverty.”

Mayor Lee has overseen efforts to address family homelessness by working with Hamilton Families and philanthropic groups on the Heading Home Campaign. This initiative, which includes $30 million in private funds, aims to end chronic family homelessness in San Francisco and has found housing for more than 140 families to date. The City has contributed $4.5 million to the program, which is in addition to the $40 million it spends annually on family homelessness.                                      

 

About the Office of Early Care and Education: The San Francisco Office of Early Care and Education (OECE) was created by Mayor Edwin Lee in 2012. OECE is charged with aligning and coordinating federal, state and local funding streams to improve access to high quality early care and education for children 0-5, to address the needs of the early care and education workforce, and to build early care and education system capacity.  http://sfoece.org/