Child Development

Decades of scientific research have shown that, when done right, early education can have a profound impact on children. High-quality early education is critical to young children’s development, as it prepares them for all future learning. High-quality early education improves socialization, pre-reading, vocabulary, and basic math skills for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.


To promote child development, First 5 San Francisco guides and supports the continuous quality improvement of San Francisco’s early care and education programs. We raise awareness of the critical importance of high-quality early education by matching early care and education 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. First 5 has been a leader in establishing a system of quality assessment in San Francisco and in cultivating a robust system of training, technical assistance, and coaching to support early educators. Today, this work continues through San Francisco’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS).

Goals, Outcomes, and Strategies


Early care and education 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 early care and education subsidies participate in the QRIS.
  2. Providers demonstrate increased quality as defined by the QRIS.


  1. Support early care and education 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 and make innovations in response to evolving needs.
  3. Collaborate and partner with the Office of Early Care and Education, the San Francisco Unified School District, and other stakeholders 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 San Francisco has made strategic investments to establish a system of training, technical assistance, and coaching that supports 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 this work through San Francisco’s local quality rating and improvement system (QRIS). The QRIS monitors the quality of the city’s child care centers and family child care homes and supports them in achieving the highest standards of quality.

The promise of early care and education hinges on quality; children and families only benefit if the quality of care is high. Therefore, we must invest in both expanded access and improved quality. As more young children of increasing diversity enroll in early care and education programs, the educators who work with them need resources and support to provide the highest quality care possible. For this reason, we are committed to continuing and increasing efforts to expand active use of the QRIS. We believe this will result in more providers reaching higher standards of quality, which will translate into more children ready for school.

Preschool for All

For 11 years, First 5 San Francisco was responsible for leading San Francisco’s pioneering universal preschool initiative, Preschool for All (PFA). As of September 30, 2016, the San Francisco Office of Early Care and Education (OECE) has taken over administration of the 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.