Every Seat Counts: Public-Private Partnerships to Preserve Affordable Child Care in San Francisco

Sara RamseyApril 26, 20170 Comments

Each morning, parents on their way to work drop off more than 220 children at the Mission Child Care Consortium (MCC), nestled in the heart of San Francisco’s Excelsior District. Established in 1969, the center is the city’s largest child care facility. For parents in the Excelsior District, a historically working-class Latino neighborhood now facing the pressures of displacement, the center provides essential access to all-day, affordable child care and enables them to continue providing for their family through employment outside of the home.

The urgent need for affordable early education, however, is not isolated to the Excelsior District. According to the Children’s Council of San Francisco, residents of California pay $18,000-$24,000 to enroll a single child in a quality early education program – nearly two-thirds of a minimum-wage worker’s earnings. This cost is $5,000 greater than the average yearly tuition and fees within the University of California higher education system. The rising cost of child care in San Francisco, like many other urban areas, has made it difficult for families in the city to maintain steady employment while dealing with the uncertainty of who can care for and educate their children during the day. This further entrenches economically distressed families in poverty, preventing them from saving money to build a better life for their future.

Residents of California pay $18,000-$24,000 to enroll a single child in a quality early education program – nearly two-thirds of a minimum-wage worker’s earnings.

At the same time, skyrocketing property values have made it difficult for child care and early education providers to keep up with increasing demands for affordable seats in their centers, and in some cases, lack of funding has threatened to close doors to these facilities. MCC knows this issue well, and has struggled to maintain footholds in the historically low-income community they serve. For years, the organization has experienced an uncertain future as rent prices in the Excelsior District increased. When an opportunity to purchase the facility presented itself, financing hurdles threatened to prevent MCC from securing ownership. Earlier this month, a solution to this dilemma was finally reached, painting a brighter future for MCC and the families it serves.

The Low Income Investment Fund is proud to have joined San Francisco’s Office of Early Care Education (SFOECE), the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, the Northern California Community Loan Fund and the Hellman Foundation to permanently secure the MCC facility, which will continue serving Excelsior District families for generations to come. LIIF provided a $3.5 million permanent loan, alongside an $800,000 grant to help the deal come to life. With resounding support from Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Ahsha Safai, the acquisition will help ensure MCC’s longevity, and in return, enhanced life-long outcomes for children who walk through its doors.

However, the work does not end here. At LIIF, we aim to advance high-impact projects that promote quality, affordable child care in low-income communities, ensuring equitable outcomes for children from all walks of life. Today, we are celebrating Week of the Young Child, sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Among the movement’s vision, supporters urge for the creation of additional early childhood education seats, and to ensure facilities are safe and dependable for the children they serve. Week of the Young Child events are being held in cities around the nation. In San Francisco, the Child Care Providers’ Association, the Child Care Planning & Advisory Council and SFOECE have created a series of public events for children and families.

At the core of this work is the desire to witness a future where all children have access to the opportunities and education that create pathways to success. To learn more about LIIF’s efforts to advance this vision through capital, capacity building and public advocacy, visit our website.