Financial Assistance for Children Ages 0-5

ELS Child Care Payment Assistance

About Early Learning Scholarships (ELS)

On July 1, 2017 the San Francisco Department of Early Childhood (DEC) launched San Francisco’s Early Learning Scholarship Program (ELS). The ELS provides eligible San Francisco families who have children from birth to 5 years old with financial assistance to pay for quality early care and education. More than 400 Early Child Care and Education (ECE) Family Child Care Homes and Child Development Centers across San Francisco have been qualified to participate in this new program that prioritizes quality and continuity of care, supports the ECE workforce, and ensures that San Francisco’s youngest children, especially those who have the most to gain from participating, have access to high-quality early care and education.

Wu Yee Children’s Services is one of the agencies funded by DEC to administer the ELS program; to provide an array of supports to child care educators in our community and provide eligible San Francisco families who have children from birth to 5 years old with financial assistance to pay for quality early care and education.

For more information on supports being offered by the San Francisco Department of Early Childhood visit DEC’s website or call 415.355.3670.

What Parents Need to Know


Effective July 2022, the Office of Early Care and Education increased early care access for middle-income families. DEC revised its income eligibility ceiling for families from 85% of the State Median Income (SMI) to 110% of the Area Median Income (AMI). This revised policy will provide more opportunities for San Francisco families to have access to quality early care and education services.

Income Requirements

Families with children under 5 years old and income under 110% of the Area Median are eligible to apply for the ELS program. Families may be eligible regardless of immigration status.

Gross (pre-tax) monthly income eligibility:


Once families are in the program, they are eligible to stay in the program until they reach 110% of Area Median Income. See the Family Income Eligibility Table (effective July 2022).

Category One (Top Priority) 
  • Children who are clients of Family and Children’s Services (FCS) or are at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation
  • Children eligible through the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children
  • Children experiencing homelessness
  • Children of domestic violence survivors

Category Two (Second Priority) 
  • Black/African American children
  • Latino children
  • Native Americans/Indigenous children
  • Pacific Islander children
  • Immigrant children
  • Children with disabilities or special health care needs whose individualized education programs (IEP) and/or individual family support plans (IFSP) include ECE services
  • Children from low-income families, including those who receive or are eligible for free or reduced meals, Medi-Cal, SNAP (food stamps), WIC, CalWORKs, and other public assistance programs

For more information, please visit
DEC’s website to view the Operating Guidelines.

Contact Us to See if You Qualify

Our Family Service Specialists are committed to helping you access high-quality care that best meets the needs of your family.

Family Service Specialists support families with:

  • Verifying families’ eligibility
  • Referrals to child care providers
  • Counseling about payment options for child care
  • Give Community Resources to families who needed

Fill out the form below, and one of our Family Service Specialists will reach out to you to ask more specific questions about your family’s needs.

Thank you!

We have received your form submission and a member of our team will reach out to you.

Help SF kids learn to grow and play

Your donation this Giving Tuesday sustains our vital programs in 2024, including child care assistance for families in need. Your gift will make a meaningful difference!