Important note: The following recommendation was apporved by the Board of Supervisors on April 26, 2016.

DISTRICT 2 (Supervisor Carole Groom) FY 2015-17 Measure A Request Peninsula Family Service

 Big Lift Enhancement Initiatives $190,000 total

This is a request to authorize an agreement with Peninsula Family Service for the term April 26, 2016, through June 30, 2017 in an amount not to exceed $190,000 to extend The Big Lift enhancement initiatives for 76 children ages 0-5 at the First Step and Downtown Early Learning Centers in the City of San Mateo. For the reasons set forth below, it is in the County’s best interests to waive the Request for Proposals process. The proposed agreement will be administered and managed by the County’s Human Services Agency.

The Big Lift is a collective impact collaborative that is working to close the achievement gap and improve third-grade reading proficiency among children in San Mateo County. While San Mateo County is one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, 43 percent of the area’s children are not reading proficiently by third grade. San Mateo County, in partnership with the San Mateo County Office of Education and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, launched The Big Lift to address the literacy gap. The Big Lift includes the following evidence-based interventions:

1.      A comprehensive school readiness strategy focused on high-quality preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds that leads to an aligned and sequences set of high-quality learning experiences in kindergarten through third grade;

2.      A focus on reducing chronic absence in the early grades;

3.      Developing inspiring summer learning opportunities that enable children to maintain their academic and developmental gains;

4.      Supporting parents and caregivers as children’s first and most influential teacher to provide rich learning environments in the home.

Enhanced activities are based on researched interventions that have demonstrated benefit in improving the quality of early learning. The activities work toward outcomes that are expected to reduce the literacy gap by improving third-grade reading proficiency.

In April 2015, after a competitive application process, the Big Lift selected four grantees representing school districts in which the rate of children who were proficient in reading at third grade fell at or below the county average to implement Big Lift interventions: Daly City, South San Francisco, Half Moon Bay/Central Coast, and La Honda/Pescadero.

The funding limitations of the first round of the Big Lift mean that many children in other communities with below average third grade reading levels will not receive the benefits of the enriched educational program. The San Mateo-Foster City School District is one of those districts (the District did not apply for Big Lift funding in the first round).

As a whole, the San Mateo-Foster City School Districted demonstrated that a total of 48% of students did not meet the 3rd grade reading proficiency standard. In addition, there are particular schools that are severely underperforming.

Schools in the San Mateo-Foster City School District with Underperforming 3rd Grade Reading Proficiency for 2014-2015

School Site

Total % of Underperforming Students

Academic Performance Index (API) 2011-12

Horrall Elementary School



Fiesta Gardens International School



Parkside Elementary School



Sunnybrae Elementary School



San Mateo-Foster City School District



As shown above, in addition to third grade literacy, API scores are at least 100 points below the district average among these schools.

Peninsula Family Service (PFS) operates two early learning centers in the San Mateo- Foster City School District: First Step Early Learning Center in the InnVision Shelter Network/LifeMoves (“First Step”) transitional housing site and the downtown San Mateo Early Learning Center (“Downtown”) located at the PFS facility. 

First Step has 22 spaces for children between the ages of 18 months and 5 years of age. The Downtown Early Learning Center serves 48 children between the ages of 18 months and 5 years of age and 6 infants and toddlers between 6 weeks and 3 years old.

The Value of Extending Big Lift Enhancements

The ability of staff, children, and families at non-Big Lift sites to have the enrichments available through the Big Lift offers significant benefits:

  • For many state subsidized child care providers serving low-income populations, maintaining a stable, well-trained teaching staff is very difficult. The State reimbursement rate falls far below the costs to provide basic child care services in high cost areas such as San Mateo County, covering approximately only 60% of program costs. This keeps salaries and funding for professional development, training, and coaching initiatives low. An additional funding source will help to address this basic underfunding.
  • Additional funding at First Step and the downtown Early Learning Center will provide opportunities for the level of coaching, professional development and training offered through the Big Lift. Best practices in early learning correlate ongoing training with high quality programs.
  • The funds will support enhanced family engagement efforts as well. The evidence of the impact of early parental engagement and quality early learning activities on the academic success of children is overwhelming. With 95% of brain development occurring by age 5, investment in quality early learning is the most cost-effective education investment that can be made to develop an educated society and qualified workforce.
  • The funding will also help to extend behavioral health consultation services to address behavioral health issues and support early identification of developmental delays.

Scope of Services

A summary of the services that parents and children will receive through this allocation of funds:

  • Coaching and training for classroom teachers
  • Increased classroom supplies and materials
  • Ongoing professional development for teachers to learn best practice assessment tools
  • Behavioral Health Consultation
  • Implementation of developmental screenings and well checks for all children
  • Participation in Raising A Reader Book Bag Program to increase literacy within families
  • Increased opportunities for family engagement, with a Family Engagement Coordinator to organized parent cafes, parent education and engagement activities and work with families on transition to preschool
  • Continued implementation toward Tier 5 level on San Mateo County’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)

The funds will provide an additional funding stream for these programs and will help maintain a stable, well-qualified workforce.

Peninsula Family Service: A History o​f Quality Care

Peninsula Family Service has operated early learning programs to serve children from low-income communities since 1972, and currently operates nine centers and home based services through San Mateo County, reaching almost 500 children from ages six weeks to 11 years old, and their families. The budget for full day enhanced programs, as are First Step and the downtown Early Learning Center, is $2,500 per space per year. This equates to the following funding for the two sites:

    First Step—22 spaces:                    $55,000 per year

    Downtown ELC—54 spaces:         $135,000 per year

The funds are to be disbursed to Peninsula Family Service for these purposes.

The total allocation request for the Big Lift enhancement initiatives for the two sites is $190,000.

The release of funds will be contingent on the execution of an agreement providing for the County’s confirmation of the expenditure of funds during FY 2015-17 for the purposes stated herein.

Important note: This is a copy of the official report -- item 15 on the Board's agenda.