We are accepting applications!

DEC is committed to fulfilling our promise to San Francisco’s youngest residents: to provide a high-quality early learning experience. We are committed to creating an early learning system that will ensure every child thrives and learns while providing resources to those who care for our city’s children. If you are interested in becoming an Early Learning San Francisco (ELS) city-funded program, please read the information below carefully to learn about the process. 

Informational Sessions

The first step in becoming an ELS program is to attend or view an informational session to find out more about the benefits of joining the city system and the application process. If you have not already attended an informational session, please view the meeting recording and presentation linked below in the language of your preference.

Eligibility Requirements

Who is eligible to apply?

In order to apply for the Early Learning San Francisco Program you must: 

  • Be a licensed Family Child Care home or Early Education Center located in San Francisco serving children ages birth to five. 
  • Be in good standing with California Community Care Licensing Division  
  • Be willing to serve low- and moderate-income populations who receive city funding from SF OECE and SF Priority Populations 
  • Meet Director / Owner Qualifications per the Quality Standards

Criteria to become an Early Learning SF program:

After you submit your application, you must meet the following criteria in order to receive City funding and enrollments: 

  1. Participate in site visit and CLASS assessment  
  2. Meet the Quality Standards for Early Learning San Francisco Programs which includes qualification and ratio/group size requirements;   
  3. Agree to serve low- and moderate-income populations who receive city funding from DEC and SF Priority Populations;   
  4. Register Director/FCC Owner and teaching staff on the California Early Care and Education Workforce Registry;  
  5. Use SF MOCHA the attendance tracking, payment generating, and enrollment data system for DEC.   
  6. Agree not to deliver any direct faith-based instruction during program time supported with DEC funds. 

Quality requirements:

Learn more about the Quality Standards that ELS programs must meet, and find resources to help you meet the requirements:

How to Apply

Step 1: Attend an informational session

Attend or view the recording of an ELS informational session using the links in the informational sessions section at the top of this webpage 

Step 2: Create a CA ECE Workforce Registry Account

The online application for the Early Learning San Francisco Program requires the CA ECE Workforce Registry ID Number of the program Director or Owner. If you do not already have a Registry account, please create one at before completing your Early Learning San Francisco application. 

For step-by-step guides to creating your Registry account and finding your Registry ID please view the video tutorials linked below:  

Video Guide

Create a profile

How to

Find your Registry ID


For additional questions or support with creating a California ECE Workforce Registry Account please contact the Children’s Council Help Desk: 

Step 3: Complete an application

Complete the online application form in your preferred language using the links below: 

Online Application

Step 4: We will contact you

DEC will review your application and contact you regarding next steps. The flow chart linked below provides a detailed overview of the next steps after your application is submitted. 

Flow Chart

Questions and Support

If you have reviewed all the information above and still have questions, don’t worry! Below are a collection of frequently asked questions and answers. If you still have questions please contact the support teams as directed below.

Join ELS: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Contact Information

For questions about your eligibility or application support please contact:

If you are already a qualified ELS program and are planning to expand your program or add another site, please contact us at: (English/Spanish) (English/Chinese)

For questions or support with creating a California ECE Workforce Registry Account please contact the Help Desk at Children’s Council.

Help Desk Email:

Help Desk Phone: 415-343-4669