UCSF’s Child Care Referral Service Is Available to Help During COVID-19


By Robert Hood on December 11, 2020

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When UC San Francisco students, staff, or faculty need help finding child care, they can turn to Campus Life Services Family Services for advice.

“San Francisco is a difficult market for parents to find child care, and during the current pandemic, families are feeling even more overwhelmed,” said Director of Family Services, Laura Ishkanian. “Our goal is to save parents time by narrowing their options based on specific criteria.”

Ishkanian said COVID-19 has created challenges for parents and child care providers alike, and the demand for child care is much more fluid than in normal years. “The Child Care Referral Service, a component of Family Services, is still operating and is a resource to help UCSF parents find licensed care. Right now, it is probably more difficult than normal to know what options are out there, but our Referral Service is here to help.”

In response to COVID-19, Ishkanian said the Child Care Referral Service has revamped its bulletin board and provided a list of out-of-school programs, among other resources. Family Services has developed a resource page for child and dependent care needs during COVID-19.

During COVID-19, many families have shifted their child care or have relocated, opening up spaces for those in need. On the other hand, providers have limited capacity and some have closed. The Child Care Referral Service can help families figure out what available options are out there. Ishkanian said each referral is individualized. “The complexity of the request can vary. While licensed centers often have websites, many licensed family child care homes do not, and it can be difficult for parents to collect and compare basic details about potential providers.”

Child Care Referral Service Coordinator Pauline Lee takes the time to gather information from families in order to better understand the type of care they need. “Pauline is a valuable resource for the UCSF community,” Ishkanian said. “Finding the right child care provider, especially in these challenging times, can be a stressful experience and Pauline helps ease some of that stress.”

Prior to the pandemic, UCSF employee Leesa Cantero said she didn’t know where to begin when it came to the process of finding child care. “It was great having someone narrow down my options by price, location, and preferences. I was provided an extensive list with more choices than I could have created on my own.”

Cantero said she was contemplating between a licensed center or a licensed family child care home and Lee provided a summary explaining the differences. “With all the information provided, I felt confident that I was choosing the right child care environment for my son. Given my criteria, Pauline compiled options near my home and work.” Cantero said Lee provided details for each facility, such as the hours and rates in addition to whether some of the programs had available spaces. “She saved me so much time.”

Lee said the quality and experience of family child care homes is broad and varies – each family child care is unique. When working with parents, she recommends they visit multiple programs if possible, confirm a facility’s licensing status and check on complaints by contacting Community Care Licensing and make certain they understand a program’s policies prior to enrollment.

Ishkanian said Lee also helps parents locate UCSF resources such as the Lactation Accommodation Program, the myfamily.ucsf.edu web directory, and a series of parent education videos that can be useful. “As a parent or parent-to-be at UCSF, you can make one call to Pauline and have a wealth of knowledge and resources at your disposal,” Ishkanian said.

To enlist Lee’s help, UCSF parents simply need to contact the UCSF Child Care Referral Service by email at Pauline.Lee(at)UCSF.edu or phone at 415-476-2692. The Referral Service is generally available all day on Monday and Tuesday and Friday mornings.