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Be a part of Family Connections

Mission & History

Our mission is to provide free preschool education for low income families throughout San Mateo County.

At Family Connections, a tuition free parent participation preschool for low-income families, parents learn positive parenting skills while their children develop the skills necessary to succeed in Kindergarten and beyond. Our vision is that involved parents and well-prepared children will be able to participate successfully in their families, communities, and schools.

In our innovative program parents participate in preschool classes with their children, ages newborn to five. Children experience an array of educational opportunities that prepare them for the future. Parents attend weekly parenting seminars, covering a range of topics, with an emphasis on positive discipline.

We believe Family Connections helps ...

  • Give children the confidence needed for a successful start in Kindergarten.
  • Prepare parents for their children’s academics after preschool
  • Make parents better parents and more effective advocates of their children’s education.
  • Improve academic performance and reduce high school drop out rates.
  • Create happier families because parents receive education on how to work effectively with their children and children start Kindergarten with an enthusiasm for school and learning.
  • Break the cycle of poverty: a student who goes to preschool has a statistically better chance of succeeding in life.

A brief review of our history:


Family Connections is founded (as the East Palo Alto Child Center) by Little Hands: A Parent-Child Center with the support of the Sequoia Adult School.  Seven families meet with Teacher Angela Jaime in an apartment in the Carriage Manor Apartment Complex in East Palo Alto.


The East Palo Alto Child Center moves to a building in East Palo Alto.


Robin Holcomb becomes the first paid Family Connections Director.


The East Palo Alto Child Center becomes officially known as Family Connections.


Family Connections begins to meet in a classroom at the Belle Haven Elementary School.


A permanent home in a portable building at the Belle Haven elementary school is found with the support of the City of Menlo Park.


Two annual fundraisers begin — An Evening with Children’s Authors in the fall and a rummage sale in the spring.


Family Connections is granted tax exempt 501(c)(3) status and becomes independent from Little Hands.


Two new classroom locations are added — in East Palo Alto at the Girls Club and at Clara Mateo Homeless Shelter.  Teacher Lorena Cadenas is hired to teach at both sites.


Renee Zimmerman is hired as the first full-time Executive Director of Family Connections.


The “Kickoff to Kindergarten” summer program, funded by First Five San Mateo County in partnership with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and run by Family Connections, is launched.


Following the closure of the Girls Club, Family Connections temporarily relocates to the St. Francis of Assisi Church in East Palo Alto.


Family Connections’ first permanent facility at 1070 Beech Street in East Palo Alto is opened.


The dream of opening a classroom in Redwood City is realized with support from the Sequoia Union High School District.  Family Connections relocates its program from the Clara Mateo classroom to Redwood City.


A teacher’s aide, Thelma Saenz is hired.


A third teacher, Margarita Ventura is hired to teach at our East Palo Alto site.

“Children who are not only proficient in Kindergarten Academics but are also on track with their Social Expression skills – especially their ability to express needs and wants, as well as their curiosity and eagerness for learning – display an extra boost in test scores four years later.”

Santa Clara Partnership for School Readiness study, “Does Readiness Matter? How Kindergarten Readiness Translates Into Academic Success”, April 2008