Compensation and Retention for Early Educators Stipend (CARES 3.0)


  • Bonuses and Supplemental Pay

San Francisco, California

First implemented as CARES 2.0 using funds from fiscal years 2017 and 2018, CARES 3.0 is the newest version of a stipend program designed to support more than 2,000 early educators working across San Francisco’s city-funded center-based and family child care (FCC) programs. The city anticipates investing $60 million annually to support this program. To be eligible for stipends, educators must:

  • Be employed by an Early Learning Scholarship (ELS; San Francisco’s subsidy system) or Preschool for All (PFA) program that has been deemed eligible by the Department of Early Childhood, and;
  • Work directly with children for at least 20 hours per week

Awards are determined based on educator role, part-time or full-time status, education level and experience, and proportion of subsidy-eligible children served. Stipends begin at $4,000 and increase to $39,100 per educator or FCC owner per year; higher amounts are reserved for those with the highest educational attainment and percentage of subsidy-receiving children served. FCC owners are eligible for the highest stipend amounts.

This program is paid for through a commercial rent tax passed in 2018 (Prop C, referred to as “Baby” Prop C, a Commercial Rent Tax for Childcare and Early Education).


San Francisco Office of Early Childhood. (2023). CARES 3.0.

San Francisco Office of Early Childhood. (2023). CARES 3.0. Eligible Programs.

San Francisco Office of Early Childhood. (2023). CARES 3.0 FAQs.

San Francisco Office of Early Childhood. (2023). CARES 3.0 Stipend Amounts.

Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

The early education workforce is the foundation upon which all daily work and any expansion and quality improvement efforts rest. Research suggests that states and cities should invest in the workforce across all early education setting types, focusing on enhancing educators’ professional learning, compensation, and workplace conditions.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) show:

  • Early educators play a critical role in supporting the well-being of young children and families across setting types.
  • Yet their pay, benefits, and other professional supports are often inadequate in light of the job demands and their cost of living.
Learn More about ELS@H Findings

Learn more about San Francisco

Context matters. Visit the San Francisco profile page to learn more about the city landscape.

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  • The city population is 815,201
  • The percentage of children under 5 with all available parents in the workforce is 4.40%
  • The median family income among households with children is $187,400.00