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Early Learning

The benefits of high-quality early learning – beginning in infancy, and with smooth transitions into toddler care, preschool, and elementary school – has been well researched and continues to be a First 5 San Mateo County priority.

See Dr. Jack Shonkoff, director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, talk about brain development in children’s formative years at the Education Nation Summit.

Children who participate in high-quality early childhood education programs show long-term impacts on their ability to learn and interact with the world around them, including increased language and math skills, positive peer relationships, decreased rates of grade repetition, fewer referrals to special education services, and higher levels of cognitive and social development. Early Learning programs that participate in continuous quality improvement efforts are more likely to prepare students for sucess in school and beyond.

Our early learning investments typically work in tandem with state and federal funding streams, and focus on helping to deliver a seamless system of supports for providers, children & families. We support public policy and advocacy, and work with a highly collaborative group of organizations to increase access and quality in all San Mateo County early learning environments.

Key programs in this area include:

Early Learning Quality and Inclusion Partnership (EQ+IP), a comprehensive, countywide quality improvement initiative led by San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE) and includes many collaborating partners. EQ+IP supports early learning environments with resources that improve quality. This partnership also supports families’ ability to access appropriate early learning experiences for their children with special needs, and enhance the capacity of early learning settings to provide inclusive environments for these children and families.

  • Quality Rating & Improvement System (QRIS) Consortium aligns with regional, statewide, and national efforts to raise the quality of early learning programs through the implementation of a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), which measures and guides quality improvement in early learning centers (child care and preschool facilities) and family child care homes in San Mateo County. Consortium partners have a long history of engaging in intentional coordination and system building. Quality Counts will be the future hub and go to the website for the local QRIS, communicating the importance of quality in early learning settings to parents and caregivers, and provides ratings for local child care providers in San Mateo County. QRIS information can be found here.
  • First 5 California IMPACT (Improve and Maximize Programs so All Children Thrive) is an innovative approach that forges partnerships between First 5 California and counties to achieve the goal of helping children ages 0 to 5 and their families thrive by increasing the number of high-quality early learning settings, including supporting and engaging families in the early learning process.
  • Pre-to Kinder Articulation & Alignment, a project that aims to improve school readiness for entering kindergartner by connecting families, preschool teachers, and elementary schools within comprehensive Pre K – 3 learning continuums in Big Lift target communities, and to promote Pre K – 3 systems throughout San Mateo County. Partners include Silicon Valley Community Foundation-Center for Early Learning, San Mateo County Office of Education, Big Lift and school districts.

Early Learning Funded Partners


San Mateo County Office of Education Early Childhood Quality Improvement Project (EQ+IP)
First 5 California – First 5 San Mateo County IMPACT /San Mateo County Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) Consortium Implementing Partner

4Cs of San Mateo County (4Cs)
EQ+IP Partner & First 5 California – First 5 San Mateo County IMPACT / San Mateo County Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) Consortium Implementing Partner

San Mateo County Child Care Partnership Council
First 5 San Mateo County IMPACT / San Mateo County Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) Consortium Consortium Advisory Council

Early Childhood Language Development Institute

Peninsula Family Service

San Mateo County Community College District


Silicon Valley Community Foundation Center for Early Learning
Pre K-3 Articulation and Alignment