Preschool for All is San Francisco’s universal preschool system that aims to expand preschool access and improve preschool program quality for all four-year-old children residing within San Francisco County. Depending on whether the school is private or public, the costs will be partially or completely covered by First 5 San Francisco.
Enrolling your child in preschool will better prepare them for kindergarten and their later education. It’s an amazing advantage to give your child – quality education in a First 5 San Francisco certified school – we’ll let you know everything you know to get started!
Decades of scientific research have shown that children who attend preschool learn better socialization skills, go into kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, have richer vocabularies, and can handle basic math skills better than children who have not attended preschool.
In San Francisco, one of our most important mandates at First 5 is to ensure universal access and opportunities for all of our city’s children – we serve all income levels, ethnicities, and languages. Preschool for All is one of our hallmark programs, and we are constantly working to certify more private and public preschool programs so that they may receive funding for Preschool for All.
We have rigorous standards, so you can be assured that your child will receive quality preschool from our participating schools. At First 5 San Francisco, we believe that preschool alone is not enough; the preschool has to be of the highest quality. Preschool for All programs in San Francisco gain access to a variety of resources and funding to insure they can deliver the best in curriculum and instruction to children. This includes specialized training for preschool teachers, so that teachers stay current with the latest science of child development. First 5 San Francisco also provides Preschool for All programs with home literacy programs, early childhood mental health consultation services, arts residencies, science enrichment, and other educational supports.
Preschool for All is offered at a reduced cost or free for children aged 4 who reside in San Francisco County. However, participating schools are limited, so to ensure that your child can receive the benefits from Preschool for All, locate a school, apply, and enroll when your child is still 3 for the best chances of obtaining a spot.
Children must turn 4 on or before December 2nd of the year they will be enrolled. The program is not designed for kindergarten-aged children, but exceptions are made for children with documented special needs or who require an extra year of preschool.
Preschool for All is funded through Proposition H, which passed in March of 2004. Our program is unique to First 5 – our funding is separate from our Proposition 10 tobacco tax funds, and we hope that our city’s emphasis on universal preschool access will continue for years to come.
Parents and caregivers interested in Preschool for All should identify schools that they’re interested in and contact them as soon as possible. There is no central Preschool for All application. Each school has its own unique application process and timeline that you’ll need to inquire about. Often times, spaces for four-year-olds in a given program are reserved for children who attended the same program as three-year-olds, so space can be limited. If your three-year-old child is already enrolled in a private program that is Preschool for All certified, you will start receiving benefits such as tuition reduction in the year that your child turns four.
In order for a program to join Preschool for All, it must agree to provide at least a half day of preschool to qualifying families free of charge. Depending on the type of program, this benefit to families can take one of several forms. For many state- and federally-funded programs such as State Preschool or Head Start, programs were free or of minimal cost to families even before Preschool for All, so Preschool for All funding goes to enhance the quality of those programs. For private programs or public programs also serving tuition-based children, programs will either be free if they are part-day programs, or tuition costs will be significantly reduced for families if they are full-day programs. The amount of the tuition reduction depends on the individual program, but typically is about 25%—the equivalent of making a part day free within the context of a full day.
Families who would like to donate their tuition reduction back to the Preschool for All program can donate a full or partial-tuition credit, which allows Preschool for All to distribute funding to more preschools within the city. Contact us if you would like to enroll in the Donate Back program.