Child Development Services - Frequently Asked Questions

  • CDS General Questions

    What types of services do you provide?
    CDS provides Infant & Toddler care (located on the campus of Samohi), Preschool for children 3 and 4 years of age, and before and after school care for students in TK through 3rd grade in Santa Monica.

    Do you enroll children all year?
    Yes, children may enter CDS programs any time during the year. However, some of the CDS programs will fill up and have waiting lists. CDS enrolls children for some programs earlier than others depending on funding requirements. It is important to fill out an application as soon as you know you want to enroll your child. Please complete a Waitlist Application as soon as possible.

    How do I apply?
    Please print out, complete, and submit the Waitlist application to our main office at 2828 4th Street; Santa Monica, CA 90405.

    How and when will I be contacted?
    After an application is submitted, your name will be placed on an interest list. You will be contacted when it is time to enroll. Enrollment timing varies depending on State regulations.

    When should I give you an application?
    You should submit a Waitlist Application as soon as you know that you would like to enroll your child in our programs, even if the child is not yet old enough for the program. You can find and download a waitlist application here: 

    Are your programs first come, first served?
    For families qualified for free or sliding scale programs, the State or Federal mandated priority listing is used. For families paying full cost, first come first served is the method used to determine enrollment order.

    Do I have to live in Santa Monica?
    For Preschool programs, please refer to the Sites and Schedules page. School-age children must be enrolled at the school site where childcare is offered.

    How old does my child have to be to participate in your programs?
    Infant Toddler Center (ITC): 0 to 35 months
    Preschool: 3 year-olds (by September 1) and 4 year-olds
    Before and after school childcare: Transitional Kindergarten through 3rd grade

    Do I have to come to the office?
    You may submit a Waitlist Application by fax, mail, or by bringing it to the office. When you are notified that your child has been accepted for enrollment, you will be asked to bring documents to the office, and you will be required to sign enrollment documents.

    Where is the office?
    Our main office is at 2828 4th Street; Santa Monica, CA 90405

    Where am I on the wait list?
    The wait list is set up on a State priority basis. In general, for state preschool programs, CDS is mandated to enroll children who are 4 years old before children who are 3 years old. Based on program availability, families with the lowest incomes are given priority in State programs. For School Age Programs, a wait list is also generated with State priority as a basis, but we also have to utilize available spaces, given returning students have priority each year.

    When can my child start?
    After a child has concluded the enrollment process and all required documents have been submitted, a start date will be determined.

    What is the cost of your programs?
    Depending on family income and the need for childcare, programs may be free, full cost, or sliding scale. Please see the fees page for more information.

    How can I know if I will qualify for financial assistance or a subsidy?
    Eligibility rules are set by the State guidelines using family size and income. During the enrollment process, calculations of income and need will be analyzed to determine eligibility for free, sliding scale, and full-cost programs.

    Can children in Special Education programs participate in your programs?
    CDS programs are open to all children who are eligible. Children who have IEPs issued through the Special Education Department may have special needs for accommodation in preschool or after school. CDS staff will work with families and the Special Education department to provide appropriate experiences for children with special needs.

    Can my student with special needs participate if I don’t live within SMMUSD boundaries?
    SMMUSD has specific guidelines for residency requirements. You should contact Special Education if you have an Infant, Toddler, or Preschooler with previously identified needs. They can be reached at 310-450-8338.

    Can I have a tour of your programs?
    Tours can be arranged for ITC and our preschool programs. Please call 310-399-5865 to request a tour of a specific school program.

    Can I volunteer in your program?
    CDS welcomes volunteers in our programs pending local health and safety measures are considered. Volunteers must participate in a training session, submit an application and complete TB test clearance forms. Additional vaccinations are required to volunteer in preschool classrooms.

    How many children are in each classroom?
    The number of children in each classroom varies because of licensing requirements, funding requirements, program type, or staffing.

    Can I use just the days and hours I need?
    Daily attendance is very important for your child’s learning needs. Families should plan to have children attend the full program each day. CDS programs operate 5 days a week, Monday through Friday except on holidays and school breaks.

    What kind of field trips do you offer?
    Field trips are planned to be age appropriate, educational, and fun. Generally, ITC and preschool do not take big field trips (typically walking field trips around the neighborhood). School Age Programs may take field trips when we run camps during breaks.

    Which is the best school for my child?
    CDS provides high quality programs at all school sites. In our preschool programs, individual preferences and availability may govern parent’s school site choices. For our School Age Programs, children will attend at their school site.


    What types of preschool programs does CDS offer?
    CDS offers preschool programs ranging from 3 hours to 10.5 hours each day. Part-day programs are available in the mornings and afternoons (with enough interest). All classes operate 5 days a week. Programs may be full cost, free, or on a sliding scale.

    Is it too late to enroll my 4-year-old?
    During the school year, it is still possible to enroll in preschool if there are openings.

    Does my child need to be potty trained?
    No. All classrooms are equipped to help the toilet learning process and teachers are prepared to respond to “accidents.” If your child is still in diapers or pull ups, you will need to supply them for your child to use at school.

    What is your preschool curriculum?
    Our preschools are focused on developmentally appropriate learning experiences. We work with our students on inquiries, studies and explorations. Classroom content is supported by the program Creative Curriculum ®. We believe children learn through purposeful play and interaction in the classroom among teachers and children.

    What is a typical preschool day?
    Part-day and full-day schedules vary between the hours of 7:30 am and 6:00 pm. Depending on the program, a typical day can include a greeting, a snack or meal, large and small group activities, rest or nap, and outside exploration.

    I suspect that my child might have special learning needs? What is the assessment or evaluation process?
    During the enrollment process, be sure to inform the staff person that you have concerns about your child’s learning needs. If you are a Santa Monica or Malibu resident, you can request an assessment by calling 310-450-8338. If you are outside of SMMUSD boundaries, you need to contact your home school to begin the process.

    What are the minimum educational requirements for teachers and faculty?
    All teachers maintain current California State Child Development Teacher Permits and are certified in CPR and First Aid. Most assistant teachers have taken child development courses.

    Do you provide meals for my child during the school day? Can I send my child with his/her own food from home?
    Depending on the program, a snack or meals may be provided. While children are encouraged to be a part of the school district nutrition program, families can opt out of the meal program at enrollment or during the year by contacting our department. The school district participates in the state nutrition program and follows nutrition regulations set by local, State, and Federal governments.

    My child has food allergies or preferences? How can I let the school know what he/she can and cannot eat?
    During the enrollment process, there is an opportunity to inform CDS that your child has allergies. A doctor’s notification is required for accommodation for food allergies. While there may be occasions when children can choose their food, most of the time meals are served from a set menu. Families can opt out of the food program and provide their child’s food.

    My child has a medical condition where medication is required daily. How is this handled in each classroom?
    During the enrollment process, be sure to tell the staff person enrolling your child about your child’s medical needs and that medication is required. Depending on the specific needs of individual children, the teacher, lead teacher, or a school nurse may be involved in attending to medical needs.

    What types of vaccines are required for my child to attend school?
    Please see the website

    Do you offer transportation to and from school? Is this included in the cost of tuition?
    There is no transportation offered by the school district for Child Development programs.

    Am I required to attend the district preschool in my neighborhood or can I choose which one I would like to attend?
    CDS has several different preschool programs. Sometimes the appropriate preschool for your child will be at your neighborhood school. Depending on your family’s needs and availability, another site may offer the program that fits your needs. With the exception of Edison and Webster, Seaside Preschools are designed specifically so neighborhood students get an opportunity to attend preschool and then matriculate into that elementary school when they begin TK or K.

    Can I attend kindergarten in SMMUSD if I attend preschool throughout the district?
    Families who live within the boundaries of the school district may attend kindergarten in the district whether or not children have attended a district preschool. Families who live outside the boundaries of the school district may apply for a permit to attend SMMUSD schools. Attending a district preschool does not qualify for an automatic permit in TK or Kindergarten. You will need to go through the permit process. More information on permits is available at 310.450.8338 ext. 70208.

    School-Age Programs

    Is there space at my child’s school for childcare?
    Family needs for childcare may vary during the year. CDS will try to fill openings as quickly as possible. Families with children who are highest on the priority list will be contacted when there is an opening.

    What is a typical day in childcare?
    Students follow a general schedule from school dismissal until 6:00 p.m. Activities typically include outdoor time, snack, group time and homework. Additional activities such as art, science and free choice are determined based on site schedules.

    How is CDS/School-Age Programs different from other after-school programs?
    All of our after-school classrooms are held on the campus of the elementary school where each child attends. Students only have to walk from one classroom to another for childcare. In addition, District teachers have California State Child Development Teacher Permits. School-Age programs release children only to parents or other adults who have permission to pick up a student. Students are supervised in classroom sized groups with ratios set by the State of California.

    What types of activities will be available for my child?
    They include opportunities for homework assistance, sports, games, art, music, cooking, and other supervised activities.

    Will you help my child with homework?
    Supervised group homework time is included in the daily schedule Monday through Thursday. While the teacher assists as much as possible, this is not designed as tutoring or individual homework support. We recommend all families check students’ homework in the evening. 

    How old does my child need to be to participate? What is the oldest my child can be to be eligible to participate in the School Age Program?
    The School-Age program serves children enrolled in Transitional Kindergarten through 3rd grade for both before and after-school care. The School Age Program also serves 4th and 5th grade students before school. Santa Monica City CREST serves 4th and 5th grade students after school.

    Does the monthly fee cover pupil free days or school breaks (winter, spring and summer)?
    No. The monthly fee covers school days only. Childcare fees are calculated on a ten-month basis covering school days. Since the number of school days varies by month, the school year fee is divided into ten equal monthly payments. Pupil Free Days, full day winter, spring and summer programs are available for an additional fee.

    Child Development Services . 2828 Fourth Street . Santa Monica 90405 . 310-399-5865