"We know that San Francisco is an expensive place to live, and we need to make sure that our educators have the financial support necessary to continue living and working in our City. When it comes to paying rent and monthly bills, every dollar counts," said Mayor Breed. "While these stipends won't solve all of our affordability challenges, they will certainly make it easier for our early childhood educators to afford living in San Francisco so that they can continue educating the next generation. We also know that many families in San Francisco depend on having access to affordable and high-quality childcare, and this stipend will help recruit and retain the providers that we need to keep offering the services that so many working families depend on."
The new stipends program, CARES 2.0 (Compensation and Retention Early Educator Stipend), is designed to support early educators by recognizing their value and acknowledging the reality of economic challenges in one of the most expensive areas to live in the country. Funding for the stipend program is from the Fiscal Year 2017-18 and 2018-19 Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund, and was allocated in the City budget process. The program builds on the City's long-term commitment and investments to support this critical workforce, including a previous early educator stipend program by the same name.
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"Our early educators are critical not only to the growth and development of our City's youngest children, but allow working and middle income families the ability to stay in San Francisco," said President Norman Yee. "A vast majority of our early educators are women and women of color who are disproportionately underpaid and undervalued. CARES 2.0 sends a strong message that we are committed to supporting and sustaining our child care providers so that they can continue providing high quality early care and education to the families they serve."
Research clearly demonstrates that children benefit significantly from stable and long-term relationships with teachers. Unfortunately, inadequate compensation in the early care and education field has created high rates of teacher turnover, and has made it difficult to hire qualified employees. Over the last two years, early education programs across San Francisco experienced educator turnover at an average rate of 75%.
"We are investing in our ECE teachers, and in return, we are providing educational opportunities for our children to participate in consistent high quality early childhood education experiences," said Ingrid Mezquita, Executive Director of the Office of Early Care and Education.
On average, San Francisco's early educators earn $19.37 per hour, or approximately $40,000 per year. According to the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC Berkeley, 48% of early educators rely on one or more government assistance programs, 75% worry about paying monthly bills, and 54% worry about putting food on the table. In San Francisco, 92% of the early childhood education workforce are women; 83% are women of color.
OECE is now accepting applications for the stipend program. Early educators are eligible to apply for CARES 2.0 if they meet all of the following criteria:
- They are employed at a licensed family childcare or center-based program in San Francisco, funded by OECE's Early Learning Scholarship (ELS) or Preschool For All (PFA) initiatives; They work directly with young children (up to five years old) for a minimum of 20 hours per week; and They have an up-to-date Early Care and Education Workforce Registry Account.
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The criteria for CARES 2.0 were developed by OECE in collaboration with the San Francisco Child Care Planning and Advisory Council (CPAC) and First 5 San Francisco. Through a series of roundtables and workgroup sessions, over 200 participants, including the San Francisco Child Care Providers' Association and Family Child Care Association of San Francisco, provided direct feedback on the stipend program and educator eligibility criteria. This inclusive process, designed to elevate the voices of early learning educators, allowed for early educators to contribute to the development of the eligibility criteria.
"Young children thrive and learn best when they have secure and positive relationships," said Esperanza Estrada, family childcare educator. "This teacher stipend allows me to stay in teaching and maintain positive relationships with the children in my care. It's hard to stay in this profession when you struggle to make an adequate living."
"Wages for early education teachers do not meet the high cost of living in the Bay Area," said Lisa Pascasio, infant/toddler teacher at Compass Children's Center. "The teacher stipend acknowledges this economic challenge and makes a step towards bridging the gap. It is important for early childhood educators to be recognized for the essential work they are doing in laying the foundation for children's school readiness and continued educational success."
In August, Mayor Breed announced $10 million in stipends for educators at San Francisco Unified School District high-potential schools. Those stipends will provide additional financial support to educators who work in SFUSD schools that serve underserved communities and experience significant teacher turnover. Nearly all of San Francisco's high-potential schools are in the Bayview, Mission and southeastern neighborhoods.
OECE is responsible for organizing local, state, and federal funding while administering and supporting programs to improve access to high-quality care and education for children up to five years old. Additionally, the office is tasked with addressing the needs of early care and education work and building the capacity of the early care and education system. As one of the Departments within the San Francisco Human Services Agency (HSA), OECE connects families and children to HSA's larger network of supportive services dedicated to helping San Franciscans achieve their full potential through all stages of life.
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