COVID-19 Vaccination

Updated vaccine access information for the child care workforce

COVID-19 vaccines are now available to all San Mateo County residents over age 16. First 5 San Mateo County and our partners continue to prioritize and support access to vaccines for child care providers.

For information on how to get an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine download an information sheet (in English, Spanish, and Chinese) or visit the San Mateo County Vaccine Information website.

The child care workforce can also take advantage of free vaccine taxis to transport them to and from COVID-19 vaccine clinics. Click here to learn more and sign up for free transportation to a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Child Care Response Team has prioritized the health, safety, and security of the child care workforce, including access to the COVID-19 vaccine. We are proud of the early educators in San Mateo County and the dedication and commitment to providing safe and high quality care they have shown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They are childcare heroes!

Child Care Hero Decal Social Media

Honoring young children and educators during the Week of the Young Child

Last week marked the Week of the Young Child, a time to honor educators and those who make a difference in young children’s lives.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of this celebration, established in 1971 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to focus attention on the needs of young children and their families. The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and San Mateo County Board of Education both approved resolutions last week recognizing the Week of the Young Child. Their proclamations underscore the importance of this vital human infrastructure as well as the service of early childhood providers, many of whom have remained open throughout the pandemic.  

The COVID19 Child Care Response Team has created a special “Child Care Hero” decal celebrating early learning professionals. This group, a coalition of local partners in San Mateo County, has provided resources and information to child care providers since March 2020. They also oversaw local funding initiatives, including the Child Care Relief Fund and Learning Hubs Expansion Fund, championed by Supervisors Dave Pine and Carole Groom and seeded with CARES Act funds allocated by San Mateo County.  

According to Michelle Blakely, Deputy Director of First 5 San Mateo County, “This week, we recognize and honor our child care workforce for their sacrifice and service.” Angel Barrios, Executive Director of Izzi (formerly IHSD), a Head Start provider serving nearly 800 under-resourced children, “Our teachers really are heroes. We hope these decals will demonstrate our sincere appreciation and also increase awareness on the importance of the work that they do out of their passion for children and education.”  

“The Week of the Young Child provides an opportunity for all of us to renew our commitment to ensuring that all young children and their families have access to high quality child care, said Supervisor Dave Pine. “These investments can mitigate the effects of poverty, eliminate the school readiness gap and lead to positive outcomes for all children.” Sarah Kinahan, Child Care Partnership Council Coordinator, echoed this sentiment, stating that we must “focus attention on the importance of early learning, inspire policymakers and leaders to place young children at the forefront of public policy and education initiatives, and highlight the early learning programs and services that help children succeed in school and in life.”  

These investments cannot wait. According to Christine Padilla, the Director of Build Up for San Mateo County’s Children“Investments in early learning and care are prerequisites for our economy and our community to re-open and thrive.” Over the past year, businesses, parents and local leaders have realized that child care is essential. Underscoring this point, Dayna Chung, Executive Director of Community Equity Collaborative said, “Since the pandemic, 3 million women nationwide have left the workforce due to child care shortages, driving participation to a 33 year low and leaving 40% of businesses unable to fill vacancies.” Child care advocates, including Peninsula Family Service CEO Heather Cleary, point to chronic underfunding and systemic inequities as additional imperatives for recognizing the sacrificial service of this under-resourced workforce and urgency for increased support and investment.    

4C’s of San Mateo County will be mailing the decals to child care providers and will coordinate with other partners on distribution, according to Executive Director David Fleishman. If you would like to request a decal for yourself or your organization, email First 5 SMC, sponsor of the ‘child care heroes’ decal, at You can click here to download a free Child Care Hero Zoom Background and e-Decal. To learn more about ways you can support investments to grow and improve child care access in San Mateo County, visit You can also learn tips for speaking up for kids at  


A celebration of the children

We know how important children’s earliest years are in shaping their learning and development. Never before have the needs of young children and their families been more pressing. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how critical child care is for all children and families.

This week is the 50th Anniversary of Week of the Young Child and a time to recognize that children’s opportunities are our responsibilities. We must ensure that every child experiences high-quality early learning—at home, at child care, at school, and in the community. Our community partners and leaders have been working together to ensure the needs of children, families, and child care educators are a priority. Sue Lempert highlighted this work in her Daily Journal Column, and reminds us of how much more remains to be done.

Click here to read the article.

Valerie pic1

Creating Community and More Through Friday CAFE

Friday CAFE is a learning community for family and community engagement professionals. Friday CAFE takes place one Friday morning a month, and includes time for networking and conversation, a brief presentation, and spirited discussion. Membership is broad and open to all. Friday CAFE is administered by the San Mateo County Office of Education and funded by First 5 San Mateo County. 

I first experienced a Friday CAFE gathering in 2019. As a parent leader of Parent Voices, I was invited by Janelle Fine, community organizer, to attend Friday CAFE and share my story about how access to quality childcare closed generational poverty for my daughter Alexis, now a senior at USC. I was invited back to Friday CAFE in 2020 to speak as a Conversation Catalyst about racism and diversity, and most recently I was invited to serve as an advisory board member for Friday CAFE. 

From my experience, Friday CAFE provides a space that sparks innovative thinking, builds connections, and strengthens the field of family engagement, making a difference for this field and the people in it. 

Sparking innovative thinking

Friday CAFE offers the kind of space that welcomes and embraces diversity. The space promotes innovative thinking, especially about how we partner with marginalized families. Families of diverse identities are embraced to come as we are. Building a community of support around and in partnership with parents, caregivers, and family engagement professionals is a transformative approach to systems change. Across these systems, we have centuries of prevailing racist ideologies that oppress, marginalize, and separate us. Friday CAFE provides a safe space where providers and parent leaders can speak truth to power and be heard, valued and embraced. Bringing parent and family voices to both the planning and implementation sparks innovative thinking.

Building connections

At Friday CAFE, I have made connections across race, class and gender, with women, women of color, and fathers. As a woman of color and a single mother who has earned a Masters degree and has over a decade of experience working in the family engagement profession, it is important to stay connected with other professionals who are exceptional and amazing and who can relate to my story or who dare to embrace all of me in professional and community spaces. Serving as a conversation catalyst and as an advisory board member has allowed me to not just be Mom (who I am 24/7) but it also has allowed me to stay connected with professionals—including my own professional self. That brings me to…

Strengthening the family engagement field

Participating in Friday CAFE has provided me the opportunity to continue my involvement in and contribution to the family engagement field. Friday CAFE provides the opportunity to learn from and with other family engagement professionals and parent leaders. The diverse participants in Friday CAFE is its strength—and the strength of the family engagement field. Through our discussions, we are able to inform the field, keeping the practices and ourselves connected and relevant. Together, we help one another overcome our challenges, systemic and personal, to find ourselves as change agents. We have the agency to keep the family engagement field relevant and meaningful!

Creating a restorative experience

Friday CAFE has truly been a sacred space. I have been empowered to share my authentic stories about motherhood, life, trauma and resilience, and that has been restorative. Friday CAFE is a holistic outlet to connect with others and to take time out for myself, away from myriad of never-ending household duties, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to Friday CAFE and the funding provided by First 5, I have been able to reconnect with myself as a professional, and I have been supported through a journey of introspection where I am currently re-evaluating my circumstances and resetting my intentions in the field of family engagement, and in life as a woman of color, a single mother, a parent leader, and a professional. It has been transformational.

As a former foster youth, single mother, a woman of color, and first-generation college graduate, Valerie Higgins has fought for social justice, has survived, and persevered to make a better life for her and her family. Valerie refuses to allow her income, or lack of it, to define who she is. She believes in the transformative power of education, family, love, perseverance, and prosperity have helped her go from a GED to a Master’s degree. Valerie is an advisory board member of Friday CAFE.

“I am not poor. I am rich in spirit, irrespective of my life circumstances. Like Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and yes, Angela Davis, I am a work in progress, I am becoming. I am becoming the woman I was destined to be and although I still don’t know her completely, I know who she is. I am Valerie.”