Wu Yee means "Protector of Children"

Dear Wu Yee Community,

     Over forty years ago, our founders saw the desperate need for child care for immigrant parents working for low wages in Chinatown. When the Nixon administration threatened to cut funding for social services in the early 70’s, parents, social workers, and teachers in San Francisco realized that creating a child development center alone wouldn’t be enough to help all families, they needed everyone in the community to raise their voices together to create lasting change that would involve engaging in social, economic, and political issues. 

    This paved the way for the formation of the Association of Children’s Rights, later renamed Wu Yee Children’s Services, to advocate for child care services and early childhood education for immigrants and underserved families in Chinatown. The name Wu Yee, coined by co-founder Catherine Ko, has become a metaphor representing the value we hold in each person’s unique name, identity, and story to promote intercultural awareness and collaboration. “Wu Yee” means “Protector of Children” in Cantonese, which represents the core value and mission of our organization. It also pays homage to the Chinese cultural origin and heritage of the majority of the original service recipients who faced discrimination and were excluded from public services and employment opportunities. Today, we serve families from all different cultures and backgrounds, and we are proud of our name as it recalls the history of the first child care center in Chinatown that was established by the joint forces of children’s services providers and immigrant parents who were both service recipients and advocates for children’s rights.

      In response to the mainstream opposition of immigrants in America during the 70’s, Wu Yee became a pioneering agency in developing multicultural preschool curricula for students. Teachers were free to experiment with different activities that introduced other languages, customs, and holidays to encourage and support students in developing self-esteem and a strong sense of identity. Teachers attended workshops, exchanged ideas with other child care centers, and partnered with parents to design lesson plans that reflected the students’ diverse racial and cultural backgrounds.
     Today, Wu Yee continues to advocate for the rights of all children to be safe, healthy, and happy as San Francisco’s largest Head Start/Early Head Start providerWith city-wide child development centers, home visitors, and Family Child Care partners, Wu Yee connects thousands of parents to services through its Child Care Resource and Referrals and Joy Lok Family Resource Center, and ensures high quality early care and education throughout the city through its Early Child Development and Child Care Provider Training Program.
     San Francisco’s progressive spirit has deep roots within immigrant, migrant, and refugee communities; from Chinatown to the Bayview, each culture has brought new and shared values that strengthen our greater community. At Wu Yee, as parents, staff, and community members, we are one big family sharing the same vision and responsibilities for the future of our next generation. Be a part of history and consider joining as a 40th Anniversary Giving Circle donor. We are grateful for your support of Wu Yee and would appreciate your generous support again this year. Together, through high-quality care and education for our children we will continue to build thriving families and strong communities.

Thank you for being part of our family.

Monica Walters, CEO

Monica Walters, CEO





p.s. Wu Yee has thrived over the past forty years because of dedicated supporters like you, and we hope you will support us again this year!  If you attended a Wu Yee gala in the past, we thank you. Please note, we will not be hosting a gala this year and hope you will support our 40th Anniversary Giving Circle and events planned in lieu of the gala. Thank you to our 40th Anniversary Giving Circle donors!

After Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Wu Yee is part of the API Council, a citywide coalition of non-profit organizations that ensure underserved A&PI needs are addressed and represented in policies, research and data and equitable funding allocation. The following article was posted on Medium on June 9 by Cally Wong, Director of the API Council.

As Asian Pacific American Heritage Month has come to a close, the API Council is eager to forge ahead and devise solutions that tackle some of the real problems that marginalize many Asians and Pacific Islanders (A&PIs) living in San Francisco.

There is no shortage of work to be done. Here in San Francisco the disparities that exist for A&PIs are staggering. The number of A&PIs living in poverty, that are unemployed, that are suffering from preventable diseases, is unacceptable.

Did you know, that in a city where A&PIs comprise 35% of all residents, that 42% of all low-income residents are A&PI?

Or that few A&PIs participate in anti-poverty programs, such as CalWORKs? While 4,000 families use cash assistance, childcare, and employment services offered by CalWORKs, only 14% of Chinese families living in poverty utilize these services.

We believe a sharp and growing, collective voice can help eradicate these disparities.

The API Council, a coalition of 40 non-profit community-based organizations collectively serving over 250,000 A&PIs, is a voice that strives to ensure equity in city programs serving A&PI residents.

We advocate for equity by giving a birds-eye view of the breadth and depth of the disparities facing A&PIs. We advocate for equity by raising awareness that many A&PI residents sit squarely in what is a vast pit of inequity.

This inequity is unacceptable. It is not acceptable for A&PIs to have higher incidences of preventable diseases like diabetes, or liver cancer or tuberculosis. This simply should not happen.

We advocate for equity by ensuring these statistics and lesser-known facts regarding the plight of A&PIs, is on the radar of SF policymakers, of city government, of residents citywide.

We strive for equity by committing to educating and engaging A&PIs about the importance of civic engagement. If we are to improve the lives of those who are most vulnerable, we must all understand the power we wield to affect change.

API Council believes this effort to create a collective voice starts with educating individuals of the issues and actively encouraging A&PIs to utilize their voices of influence on each rung of the political ladder.

We believe that SF as a whole benefits if all individuals understand the responsibility we share in improving the lives of those most often overlooked. We believe we create change if we utilize this knowledge, make educated decisions, and issue opinions within the venues where our individual voices matter. We are fortunate to be a part of a vibrant and progressive city that proudly defends values such as diversity and equality.

We must all get involved. We must all use our voices. We must all strive for better.

Excellence in Teaching

"It's not easy. But the outcome of seeing a child grow...It's a wonderful thing." Velma Moore, Excellence in Teaching 2017 honoree, brings heart and passion to her work as a toddler teacher at Wu Yee's Kirkwood Center.

Check out First 5 SF's video to see how Teacher Velma and the outstanding team at Kirkwood provide a safe, welcoming environment for children and families in Hunters Point.

And here are photos from the Excellence in Teaching award ceremony held on May 11 at the Children's Discovery Museum. Congratulations, Teacher Velma!

ACTION REQUEST: contact legislators regarding child care subsidy income eligibility guidelines!

Dear Supports of Early Childhood Education,

The Governor's May Revise budget proposal for FY 2017-18 restores the multi-year child care deal from the Budget Act of 2016. We applaud the Governor for his actions to increase rates and spaces in the early care and education system.

However, the May Revision does not acknowledge the incredible impacts that the minimum wage increase will have on families trying to qualify for subsidy, and for the agencies that run these important programs.

For the past ten years, income eligibility guidelines for families have been "frozen." Currently, a family of three where both parents earn the new state minimum wage of $10.50/hour - $3,640 monthly pre-tax income - no longer qualify for subsidized child care. We need the income eligibility guidelines to be aligned with the increased minimum wage.

ACT TODAY! Send an email to the budget committees. 

Who to email:
Senator Anthony Portantino, Chair
Budget & Fiscal Review Sub. 1 on Education

Senator Holly Mitchell, Chair
Senate Budget Committee

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, Chair
Budget Sub. 2 on Education Finance

Assemblymember Philip Ting, Chair
Assembly Budget Committee

Sample email text:

Dear , 

We applaud the Governor's reinstatement of the promised multi-year child care deal from the Budget Act of 2016 to increase rates and spaces in early education programs. However, we are concerned that the May Revise is silent on adjusting the income eligibility guidelines for families accessing child care subsidies, to align with the recent minimum wage increase.

Please support updating the State Median Income (SMI) threshold for families entering the subsidized child care system to 70% of the current SMI. For the past ten years, the maximum income level for families receiving subsidized care has remained "frozen" at 70% of the 2007 SMI.

Without this change, we will have no two-parent families that are eligible for quality early education, which is needed to build the foundation for success in their future and the future of California.


(your name and the city or county where you live)

Additional advocacy resources can be found at wuyee.org/advocacy

Week of the Young Child 2017

This year's Week of the Young Child (April 24-28) was packed with advocacy and activities! We have a new "ECE Advocacy" section on our website; please visit to learn about our ongoing statewide advocacy efforts and how you can participate.

While a bus full of Wu Yee teachers, staff, and ECE partners were in Sacramento rallying for $800 million more for ECE statewide, others were busy with #WOYC activities in SF, observing Music Monday. The week continued with Tasty Tuesday, Work Together Wednesday, Artsy Thursday, and Family Friday. And our Potrero Hill center went on a field trip to the Bay Area Discovery Museum!

On Friday, Wu Yee children, parents, staff, and volunteers walked around the block at SF City Hall, Chinatown, and Bayview to raise awareness of the importance of investing in Early Care and Education. #Walk4ECE!

Thank you to everyone who participated! Here are some highlights of the week:

Reflecting on 40 Years

Dear Wu Yee Community,

This year is both one of action and one of reflection for me. To all of our recent and longstanding supporters, thank you for being part of our journey! We wouldn't be where we are today without you.

As Wu Yee Children’s Services celebrates 40 years of serving children and their families it has also been tirelessly advocating for Early Childhood Education (ECE) on the city and state level. As California prepares for next year’s budget, we are addressing the inequities in teacher’s wages which continue to grow, the difficulty in finding quality and affordable childcare, and the challenges faced by working families under the weight of the exorbitant cost of living in San Francisco.  As part of the CA Coalition for Equity in Early Care and Education (CCEECE), Wu Yee is shouting from the rooftops: This Is Unacceptable!

I am fortified by stories of Wu Yee’s humble beginnings, when in 1977  parents, grandparents, social workers, and community leaders saw an unfilled need and worked long hours finding creative ways to serve Cantonese speaking children at a temporary center in the Inner Richmond. While the agency has grown into a citywide organization with 12 child development centers and a comprehensive range of services throughout San Francisco it continues to hold true to Wu Yee’s original guiding principles: to serve and support those who need quality early care and education in a linguistically and culturally diverse manner, and to ensure that families throughout San Francisco find the support they need.

Unfortunately, there are still hundreds of thousands of working families in California who need access to ECE without enough spaces to accommodate their children.  As the early education funding drought continues in California, Wu Yee has been proactive in joining other early education agencies state wide to urge the governor and the legislature to invest in California’s future by making ECE available to more children, providing teachers with a living wage so agencies retain excellent teachers, and to assure quality facilities for the children. If the State of California is serious about addressing income inequality, intergenerational poverty, the appalling high school drop-out rate, and even the cruel path to incarceration—we must first be serious about whether we fully fund Early Care and Education in California.

So you can see, 2017 is both a year of action and reflection. The many common threads between 1977, when the founders of Wu Yee fought to provide a much needed service to an underserved community, and the present are not lost on us including threats to cut Federal funding, anti-immigrant sentiment and antagonism towards minorities. We will not be deterred and will continue to “shout from the rooftop” until we are heard. Like our founders we stand strongly committed to the diverse range of families in San Francisco who struggle to raise their families in the city by the bay.

Warm regards,

Monica Walters CEO

Monica Walters

Week of the Young Child 2017

The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration to recognize that we all have a responsibility to enhance opportunities for children. This year's WOYC will be celebrated from April 24-28, and there will be workshops, rallies, and events for San Francisco families throughout the entire month of April!

Whether you are an ECE teacher or administrator, a parent or an advocate, come join us and The California Coalition for Equity in Early Care & Education as we rally to advocate for more funding for early care and education in California!

Join us for pre-rally sign making parties:

  • Wednesday, April 19, 4-5 PM at 729 Kirkwood Ave, San Francisco
  • Thursday, April 20, 5-6:30 PM at 827 Broadway Street, San Francisco
  • Friday, April 21, 12-2 PM at 888 Clay Street, San Francisco

Sign up here http://bit.ly/2oSJ2IJ

Join us at the rallies:
Monday, April 24 at Sacramento Governor's Mansion
10-10:30am: Meet up at the Governor's Mansion (16th and H Streets)
10:30-11am: March Together to the State Capitol
11am-12noon: Early Childhood Advocacy Rally at the Capitol (Area 27)
for Our Children, Our Dedicated Teachers, Our Working Parents, 
and Our Community Non-Profits

Friday, April 28 at San Francisco City Hall
10am: Walk Around the Block

Sign up here http://bit.ly/2oSJ2IJ
Tell the Governor and the Legislature:
1. End the Current Budget Funding Drought for ECE.
2. Increase Funding by $800 Million for:
* Fair Pay for Teachers and Staff
* More Early Childhood Education Slots for Working Families
* Safe, Decent Facilities for Our Children.