Child Development

High-quality early education is a particularly important component to a young child’s development, as it prepares children for all future learning. Decades of scientific research have shown that, done right, early education can have a profound impact on children through improved socialization, pre-reading, vocabulary, and basic math skills.


First 5 has approached its work in the area of child development with a deliberate strategy to guide and support all early education programs on a pathway of continuous quality improvement. First 5 played leadership roles in establishing a system of quality assessment in San Francisco and cultivating a robust system of training, technical assistance, and coaching to support early educators in their journeys toward excellence in early learning. We aim to make excellence visible across all facets of early education – matching programs with resources to address quality challenges, shining a bright light on the best of our early educators, and helping parents understand why program quality is so important to the care and education of their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Goals, Outcomes, and Strategies



Early Care and Education (ECE) programs in San Francisco meet the highest standards of quality to ensure optimal child development and improved outcomes for all children.



  1. All programs receiving City-funded ECE subsidies participate in QRIS.
  2. Providers demonstrate increased quality as defined by the QRIS.


  1. Support ECE providers in identifying and removing barriers to ensure they can meet early learning standards as set by the QRIS for early care and education in San Francisco.
  2. Manage the QRIS for early care and education in San Francisco; make innovations in response to evolving needs.
  3. Collaborate and partner with the OECE, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and other stake holders to further develop the City’s high quality early care and education system.
  4. Leverage opportunities for common approaches for regional, state and national QRIS development.

Quality Rating and Improvement System

Since 2006, First 5 has made strategic investments to establish a system of training, technical assistance, and coaching that supported early education programs to reflect on their own strengths and challenges and partner with experts to systematically improve quality. Today, in partnership with providers, public and private organizations, and the California Department of Education, we continue our work building pathways to quality through the local Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS).

The promise of early care and education (ECE) hinges on quality; children and families only benefit if the quality of care is high. Therefore, we must invest both in expanded access and improved quality. We cannot simply mandate that more young children, of increasing diversity, enroll in childcare without supporting the educators who will work with them. Support for quality is an essential component of enhancing access. For this reason, we are committed to continuing and increasing efforts to expand active use of the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). We believe this will result in more providers reaching higher standards of quality which will translate into more children ready for school. In partnership with the California Department of Education, First 5 is developing and testing a new Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) to monitor the quality of the city’s child care centers and family child care homes and support them in achieving the highest standards of quality.

Preschool for All

For 11 years, First 5 San Francisco was responsible for leading San Francisco’s pioneering universal preschool initiative. As of September 30, 2016, the San Francisco Office of Early Care and Education (OECE) has taken over administration of the Preschool for All (PFA) program. First 5 recognizes that this transition may take some time to gain traction among parents and providers, so we will continue to host basic information about PFA and how to connect with OECE on the following web page.

Quality Ratings of Early Education Programs

Public ratings of early education programs are an important part of the QRIS movement. Parents, policymakers, and members of the general public are welcome to review ratings of specific programs on this site.