The Early Childhood and Family Engagement Initiative

Ensuring a high-quality early childhood Jewish education

The Federation's Early Childhood and Family Engagement Initiative (ECFEI) focuses on engaging Bay Area Jewish families with young children in meaningful Jewish life and community. The initiative, previously known as the Early Childhood Education Initiative (ECEI), was launched in 2007 in response to the 2006 JESNA study that highlighted the importance of early childhood Jewish education as a gateway for family engagement.


Goals of the initiative

  • The creation of community-wide standards for compensation and standards of excellence that will be shared throughout the community. 
  • A significant increase in the number of Jewish families with young children who are connected to Jewish education and choose to maintain their connections to the Jewish community.
  • The creation of a model for recruiting, training and compensating high-potential Jewish adults into early childhood Jewish education.

Current programs

  •  PJ Library®: Free monthly delivery of Jewish books and music to children aged 6 months to 8 years. 
  • Jewish Resource Specialists (JRS): Mentoring and coaching for professionals to deepen Jewish learning for children and parents both in and out of the classroom, and engage families in Jewish life. See the Jewish Resource Specialist Program Model Documentation and Executive Summary to see how you can implement this program at your site.
  • NextGen Jewish ECE Internship Program: An extensive onboarding program for new Jewish early childhood educators, including an on-site mentor who works with the intern to develop their teaching experience; classes in early childhood funded by the grant; and a family programming component implemented at the site.
  • Reshet: A program that aims to professionalize the field of Jewish Family Engagement professionals in the Bay Area by deepening Jewish learning and family engagement expertise while connecting the families they work with to the larger Jewish community. This program creates a network for these professionals to share knowledge and best practice in the field, while establishing partnerships across agencies and communities.
  • Professional Development: Workshops and Community of Practice programming for 300+ educators on topics such as leadership, curriculum, Jewish family education, and inclusion of children with special needs. 
  • Focus on Excellence: Providing preschools with expert consultation and a road map to assist in implementing best practices in the field.
  • Compensation and Finance: Advocating for professional compensation for Jewish early childhood education teachers and directors.
  • Partnerships: Joint programming with INCLUDE – ensuring that all children in Jewish preschools receive the education they deserve.
  • Professional Advising: Consulting with ECE professionals and lay leaders in governance, management, and curriculum development.


Looking for a Jewish Preschool?
Here is a list of local preschools near you: When you click on that link it brings you to the attached document. When you click on each website within this document, it will be linked to the preschool’s website.

For more information, please contact:
Janet Harris
Director, Early Childhood Education