Bungled oversight and jumbled responsibility resulted in nearly $1 million of San Francisco’s early child care funding going unused last year.
As a result of the mismanagement, nearly 100 families were not placed in early childhood care, according to a new audit.
San Francisco — through the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families; Human Services and First 5 San Francisco — oversees funds that go toward childcare and education for low-income families with children ages 0 to 5 years old.
The departments, however, do not coordinate on either services or funding, according to the performance audit requested by Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier.
“First and foremost, we should be helping children,” Alioto-Pier said. “One million dollars is remarkable, we were shocked.”
In addition to the nearly $1 million going unspent due to lack of coordination, the three agencies also failed to communicate when measuring performance of community-based organizations.
The audit noted that, in at least one instance, “First 5 San Francisco cited a child care provider for inadequate performance, placing the child care provider in conditional status, while the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families considered the child care provider to have adequate performance.”
The report, which is set to be presented at a meeting in early December, also points out the insufficiencies of early education and child care in different neighborhoods in The City. According to the report, child care providers in the Bayview-Hunters Point, Civic Center, Haight, Western Addition and Visitation Valley neighborhoods were cited more frequently than those in other areas around The City.
A fix for the lack of oversight, according to the audit, is to create a new commission that would oversee all funding and review early care and education for children ages 5 and under, according to the report. The report says this new agency, which could be called the Children and Families Commission, would help eliminate many of the problems because one organization would be responsible for setting standards and tracking money.
However, some organizations were hesitant to hand over complete control of the $66 million early care and education budget.
Maria Su, director of DCYF, said though she agrees with the need to be more efficient, she’s concerned about the vague layout of the proposed commission.
“I really support the recommendation of alignment and coordination of work,” she said. “But I need more clarity on what it means that this commission will be the responsible entity for all the work.”
Funding for early childhood care is a mismanaged system, according to a new audit, but there are recommendations to repair it.
- Create one commission to oversee early care and education programs
- Direct new commission to review administrative structure of early care and report directly to the Board of Supervisors with recommended changes
- Develop policy details on the makeup of the new board, including five non-city department seats
Source: Performance Audit: early care and education