Peninsula Family Service IV

Fall-Winter 2018
Project Type
Full team
Project Focus
Feasibility Study,
Market Analysis
Organization Type
Human Services


Established in 1950, Peninsula Family Service (PFS) is a fifteen million-dollar organization with 150 full-time and 150 part-time employees. With twenty-one sites, PFS reaches over 12,000 individuals annually, from newborns to those over one hundred years old. Its Early Learning Program operates nine child development centers as well as home-based services in San Mateo County. These centers provide quality preschool to 500 children whose families face extreme adversity. About half of PFS’s budget relates to its early learning activities, with the remainder focused on older adult services, financial empowerment, and administration.


The County of San Mateo faces a critical childcare shortage with a shortfall of up to 11,000 spaces. A major contributor to this shortage is the lack of qualified personnel to staff early learning programs. This shortage can be traced to several causes, including relatively low salaries/benefits in a county with a high cost of living, lack of a defined early learning career path for teachers, and fragmented training opportunities for part-time staff. Along with other early learning providers, PFS turns to for-profit agencies to augment its temporary teaching staff when vacancies occur due to health problems, personal situations, vacations, etc. PFS has found staffing from for-profits to be costly, erratic, and unsupportive of people considering a career in the early learning field. PFS believed that it can develop a program addressing the childcare staffing problem throughout San Mateo County that would be attractive to potential teachers, increase the quality of temporary staff, and generate earned income for PFS.

Project Objectives

Pacific Family Service asked ACT to assess the potential of a Teacher Temporary Staffing Service initiative as a Social Enterprise for providers of Early Learning Care and Education programs in San Mateo County.

Project Overview

The project consisted of: 1) Analysis of the Early Learning Care market in San Mateo County; 2) Assess strategies temporary staffing agencies use to market to ELC’s; 3) Analysis of PFS’s competitive value proposition; 4) A multi-year detailed financial/business model of the proposed temporary staffing service; 5) An assessment of the risks to successful execution of the business model

Key Recommendations

The ACT Team Recommended that Peninsula Family Service must address the following for the proposed initiative to succeed:

  • Given the severe constraints on the supply of Early Childhood Education teachers, PFS must have a compelling story to draw candidates away from competitors and develop new candidate pools. Benefits, training, reputation, and incentives will all play a role.
  • Current ECE providers must also be persuaded to switch agencies, so having quality candidates readily available is crucial. A critical mass 50+ is essential to success.
  • This initiative will require a significant upfront financial commitment.
  • The entire PFS organization must be committed to the initiative.

Key Conclusions

Historically, starting and sustaining an Early Childhood Education staffing service over time has proven to be a challenge for other nonprofits, with numerous failed attempts. The project team was gratified that PFS chose not to proceed with the initiative given the risk entailed to the substantial startup investment and commitment required.