The Jewish Resource Specialist (JRS) Initiative, designed in 2008 by the Early Childhood Education Initiative (ECEI) of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties (the Federation), in partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation, positions the early childhood years as a gateway into Jewish life for children and their families. It is a response to several catalyzing factors. First, preschool is a critical time for young families. Children are eager to learn and are developing socially, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually. For parents, at no other moment will they be so involved in their children's schooling. They are also choosing how they spend their time and with whom they spend it. The JRS Initiative came about to leverage this unique time for families.
Second, the JRS Initiative also addresses the dearth of leaders working to build the field of Jewish early childhood education (ECE). Those who want to focus on Jewish ECE and build communities of engaged Jewish families with preschool-aged children are challenged to find the support, mentors and professional development opportunities they need to craft a career path. The JRS Initiative seeks to meet these field-wide demands by developing the skills and Jewish knowledge of the JRS educators who then bring ideas and guidance to their schools.