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Our Mission, Function & History

DCYF's Mission, Function & History

The mission of the Department of Children, Youth & Their Families is to ensure that families with children are a prominent and valued segment of San Francisco's social fabric by supporting programs and activities in every San Francisco neighborhood.


DCYF's goals are based on Quality of Life Benchmarks adopted by the Board of Supervisors and Mayor:

  • Children and youth are healthy
  • Children and youth are ready to learn and are succeeding in school
  • Children and youth live in safe, supported families
  • Children and youth live in safe, supported, and viable communities
  • Children and youth contribute to the development and vitality of San Francisco
  • San Francisco retains and begins to grow its child, youth, and family population

These Quality of Life Benchmarks became part of the San Francisco City Charter in 2001.


DCYF takes a multi-faceted approach to accomplishing its mission, which includes strategic funding, program partnerships, policy innovation, and informing and engaging the public.

Strategic Funding

DCYF allocates over $60 million to a wide range of grants and initiatives that serve children, youth, and their families. DCYF's funding strategy is based on an extensive two year process that includes a Community Needs Assessment and the creation of a Children's Services Allocation Plan, both of which are created with input from stakeholders throughout the city. 

The primary areas of DCYF funding are Early Care and Education, Out of School Time, Youth Leadership, Empowerment, and Development, Family Support, and Violence Prevention and Intervention.

Program Partnerships

A signature of DCYF is the leadership role the department plays in forging partnerships with other city departments, the San Francisco Unified School District, and community organizations.

Policy Innovation

DCYF is a generator of policy initiatives for San Francisco. The Department provides staffing for the Mayor's Policy Council on Children, Youth and Families, which presents recommendations on issues impacting the retention of families in the city. Areas of interest include housing, education, cost of living, and transportation.

DCYF convenes a variety of task forces and working groups that develop policy initiatives, such as the Expanded Learning Collaborative and the SFUSD/CBO Task Force.

Engaging and Informing the Public

DCYF is the office of city government responsible for providing general information to the public about the availability of resources, services, and programs for children and youth. A variety of strategies facilitate this work, including the website, youth outreach workers throughout the community, a parent ambassador outreach program, and numerous guides to services. DCYF also coordinates a series of large, annual public events designed to raise awareness of San Francisco's abundant resources and attractions for children of all ages and their families.

DCYF also creates opportunities to engage the public in conversation to ensure community input into program and policy decisions:

  • The Children & Youth Fund Oversight & Advisory Committee meets monthly in public forums
  • A team of youth evaluate DCYF programs and assess community needs
  • A Youth Empowerment Fund Advisory Board guides the funding for youth organizing
  • DCYF sponsors ongoing community forums and hearings

City of San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance

The Sunshine Ordinance of the City of San Francisco was created to insure easier access to public records and to strengthen open meeting laws. The Sunshine Ordinance also outlines a procedure for citizens to follow if they do not receive public records they have requested. Click here for more information about the Sunshine Ordinance.

If you would like to request documents from DCYF under the Sunshine Ordinance, please contact Emily Davis, DCYF's Custodian of Public Record. 


After several decades of community advocacy to have an entity within government specifically designated to coordinate children's services, the Mayor's Office for Children, Youth and Their Families was created in 1989 by Mayor Art Agnos. After the 1991 passage of the Children's Amendment, the MOCYF gained momentum and a substantial budget, and Mayor Willie Brown turned the MOCYF into a full city department. 

In 2000 the Children's Amendment was reauthorized by the voters of San Francisco, and a Children's Fund Citizens Advisory Committee was established. Members of the CAC are appointed by the Mayor, with a charge to advise the Mayor and DCYF regarding the Children's Fund and another other issues of concern to its members. 

In November 2014, Proposition C, otherwise known as the Children & Families First Initiative, was approved by 75% of San Francisco voters. Proposition C brought about the evolution of the Children's Fund into a more comprehensive Children & Youth Fund. Proposition C called for the Children & Youth Fund to serve children and youth from birth to age 24, and created the Our Children, Our Families Council, the Children & Youth Fund Oversight and Advisory Committee, and the Service Provider Working Group.

Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed Maria Su, Psy.D., to lead the Department in 2009. Dr. Su was subsequently re-appointed when Mayor Ed Lee took office, and is currently the Executive Director of the Department.

Last updated: 3/25/2016 4:24:01 PM
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