Children’s Services


Program Overview

Mission Neighborhood Centers, Inc. (MNC) has been providing comprehensive child development services in San Francisco since 1969. Currently, MNC has ten child development sites providing early education and care to more than 365 preschool children and 48 Infants and Toddlers. A variety of preschool options are available, including part-day Head Start, full-day Head Start/ State Preschool and Infant Toddler care, full-day tuition-based (private pay), and Home Base services. Since 2010, MNC Child Development Program also offers full-day, year-round subsidized care for infants & toddlers at the Southeast Families United site in the Bay View District and subsidized toddler care at the Bernal Dwellings preschool site in the Mission.

Early Childhood Philosophy

MNC provides nurturing early childhood learning environments that truly reflect the values, language and cultural identity of the children served. Teachers intentionally promote and support dual language learning (Spanish and English) and actively engage children in age-appropriate, stimulating experiences to bring about optimal learning for all children to grow to their fullest potential.

What We Believe About Children

    • Children are active, competent partners in their own learning. They learn best when curriculum content is relevant to their real-life experiences and engage all their senses.
    • Children learn best in classrooms that reflect and support their sense of identity, culture, language, and family composition.
    • Children learn best in an environment in which they feel emotionally secure and have warm, supportive relationships with adults who love and value them as individuals and support their emotional and social development.
    • Children learn best when they are allowed to take responsibility in the classroom, participate in making rules, solve their own problems, and have input into the curriculum & daily activities.
    • Children who are English-language learners benefit from evidence-based dual language instruction to support them in their home language while they acquire English as a second language.
    • All children benefit from learning in classrooms in which teachers are enthusiastically committed to fostering full inclusion of children with special needs with their typically developing peers.

Head Start Preschool and Early Head Start Services

Head Start is a national program that promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of education, health, nutrition, disabilities support, parent engagement and other services to enrolled children and their families.

Mission Neighborhood Centers had been a delegate agency from 1969 to 2014. In spring of 2014 MNC became its own Grantee and was awarded a Head Start/Early Head Start Grant to provide comprehensive early care and education services. We currently have 10 centers in the Mission, Excelsior, Bayview Hunter’s Point, and Mission Bay neighborhoods. We currently provide Head Start services to 326 preschool children ages 3 – 5 and Early Head Start services to 62 infants and toddlers.

Currently, 85% of the families served by the Mission Head Start program are recent US immigrant families whose primary language is Spanish. MNC’s child development program provides a bilingual curriculum in which children continue to build their native language while acquiring English as a second language. Our teachers are trained in techniques to promote early literacy in English language learners.

At Mission Head Start/Early Head Start, we engage parents in their children’s learning and help them make progress toward their own educational, literacy and employment goals. Significant emphasis is placed on the involvement of parents in the administration of local Head Start/Early Head Start programs.

Learn more about:


Teacher Qualifications

Child-Teacher Ratios

Curriculum, Screening & Assessments

Bilingual Classrooms

Language and Literacy Development

Program Quality Enhancements

Curricular Enhancements/ Other Services

Every MNC preschool classroom participates in the San Francisco Quality Connections program, which means that each classroom is evaluated by trained and certified independent assessors for quality, and must meet minimum ratings on the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scales (ECERS), the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), as well as other quality indicators.

In return, MNC classrooms receive curricular enhancements and program quality improvements, such as funding for a partnership with Project Commotion, a program that incorporates tumbling, music, play, dance, and martial arts as a means of fostering healthy development, self-awareness and self-expression; teacher trainings and professional development opportunities; funding for enhanced program supplies and materials; and other resources.

In addition to providing high quality bilingual (Spanish- English) preschool and early education services, MNC Child Development program also provides family support services, parent involvement & education opportunities, health & nutrition services, and additional support for children with special needs.

First 5 San Francisco Quality Connections
Mission Neighborhood Centers receives funding from First 5 SF, a program designed to increase access to preschool for four year olds, provide professional development for staff and utilize strategies for curriculum quality enhancement for the classroom. Our centers are assessed by independent certified assessors as well as our internal coaches. Each classroom must achieve an Early Childhood Environment Rating Score (ECERS) of 4.5 or better, as well as other quality indicators.

As a result of First 5 SF funding, MNC teaching staff and administration have been able to participate in in-depth trainings, including the following programs:


Creative Curriculum – a play-based curriculum designed to help children acquire social competence and the skills needed to succeed as learners.

Dual Language Learners – a series of seminars designed to promote vocabulary for English language learners in the classroom and which support our goal of providing research based curriculum which can be used as a platform to transition to English language development

Science and Math (STEM) – calls on parents and educators to give children chances to investigate an idea in a variety of settings, for what educators call cross-contextual learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Protective Factors – the Five Protective Factors are the foundation of the Strengthening Families Approach: parental resilience, social connections, concrete support in times of need, knowledge of parenting and child development, and social and emotional competence of children.

Teaching Pyramid Strategies – (CSEFEL) trains teachers to develop a foundation for building positive relationships with children and families and supports children’s emotional and social development. Children learn skills and techniques for managing their emotions, developing and maintaining positive social relationships, and solving problems independently.


Family Engagement

Families play a critical role in helping their children to prepare for school and a lifetime of academic success. Research indicates that:

  • Children with supportive home learning environments show increased literacy development, better peer interactions, fewer behavior problems, and more motivation and persistence during learning activities.
  • Among the youngest children, daily parent-child reading from infancy prompts cognitive skills as well as early vocabulary gains that lead to more reading and vocabulary growth, a pattern of growth that has been compared to a snowball.

Continued family engagement is important throughout the school years. Longitudinal studies of low-income children show that high family involvement offsets the risks of children growing up in low-income households and in households with low parent education.

Family engagement is about building relationships with families that support family well-being, strong relationships between parents and their children, and ongoing learning and development for both parents and their children. This partnership between parents and child development staff is fundamental to children’s current and future success and their readiness for school.

Our family partnership process assists families in identifying strengths, goals, needed services, and support resources by promoting the strengthening of families. We also offer support services for families in crisis or high-risk situations by providing referrals to community agencies that specialize in the following areas of service: legal, domestic violence, child abuse, substance/alcohol abuse, housing, employment and so forth.

As part of our diverse services we also offer a variety of educational workshops in the areas of: early education, child development, school readiness, preschool curriculum, literacy, health and nutrition, disabilities, mental health, parenting, leadership/ skill building, and male role model groups. All of which, are to empower families by building peer networks, parent leadership, access to resources, and successful transitions for children and families.

We also offer an in-depth series of parent empowerment trainings called Abriendo Puertas. Abriendo Puertas is the nation’s first evidence-based parent leadership and advocacy training program for Latino parents with children 0-5 years of age. The program was developed in Spanish and provides a linguistically and culturally relevant curriculum. The curriculum is centered on the cultural values, strengths, and experiences of Latino families and uses popular education and folk wisdom. This approach engages parents at a very personal level and results in transformative learning.

School Readiness: Educational Goals and Objectives

“School Readiness” is a term we use to mean that…

  • Children possess the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for success in school and for later learning and life.
  • For parents and families, school readiness means they are engaged in the long-term, lifelong success of their child. We believe parents are their children’s primary teachers and advocates.

Our school readiness objective is to achieve and promote the following educational goals through effective early childhood instruction:

  • Social Competency: children possess the self-regulation skills to control their bodies and their emotions and to pay attention, and the language & problem-solving skills to resolve conflicts appropriately and to develop positive, rewarding relationships with adults & peers.
  • Emergent/Early Literacy: children appreciate books (looking through them independently & being read to); associate print symbols with sounds, recognize the letters of the alphabet, especially those in their name, recognize and write their first name, and begin to be able to recognize some words in print.
  • Emergent Math & Science: children can count accurately up to at least twenty, have one-to-one correspondence (object to number/ number to object), recognize and make patterns and sequences, estimate quantities, make measurements, predict outcomes, have a basic understanding of life cycles, seasons, etc.
  • Health & Nutritional Awareness: children understand and implement the basics of good health – nutritious foods, exercise, rest, hygiene, and safety. We provide children and their parents with education about good nutrition and health practices to promote a healthy weight and good habits for life.
  • Cultural Identity & Awareness: children learn to recognize and appreciate what makes them who they are – their family composition and traditions, their language, customs, history, place of origin, etc. They also learn to appreciate what makes others who they are, and recognize that all people have some things in common and some things that are different from each other. Children learn to be proud of their culture, family, and heritage and to value that of others.

What We Do Every Day – To Achieve School Readiness Goals

For Parents:

  • We welcome parents into the classroom, provide them with training & leadership opportunities, & value them as partners in their child’s education.
  • We provide evidence-based parenting education to help parents in their role as primary educators and as advocates for their child and family.

For Children:

  • We provide a high-quality evidence-based bilingual preschool curriculum that is fully inclusive of children with special needs.
  • We utilize evidence-based strategies, or best practices, to ensure every child achieves their highest potential & school readiness.

For Teachers/ Staff:

  • We support child development staff in achieving their educational and professional goals, & provide training opportunities to help them in their work.
  • We promote & encourage a work culture of professionalism, respect, and continuous improvement.
  • We recognize staff accomplishments, & reward outstanding staff performances with opportunities for advancement, as feasible within the program.
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