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Child Development Services - Frequently Asked Questions

What types of services do you provide?
CDS provides preschool and childcare for children 3 yrs old through 3rd grade. For middle school children there is a Teen Center at Lincoln Middle School and at Santa Monica High School there is a teen parent program and childcare for infants and toddlers

Do you enroll children all year?
Yes, children may enter CDS programs any time during the year. However, some of the CDS programs 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. For an application, click here.

How do I apply?

Fill out an application here.

How and when will I be contacted?
After an application is submitted, you will be notified that it has been received. You will be contacted when it is time to enroll. Enrollment timing varies depending on State and Federal regulations.

When should I give you an application?
Submit an 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.

Do you enroll children all year?
Yes, children may enter CDS programs any time during the year. However, some of the CDS programs 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. For an application, click here.

Is it 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?
Preschool children do not have a residency requirement for enrollment in CDS programs. 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?
September 1 is the official cutoff date for a school year.
Full day childcare: 3 yrs (by September 1) through 4 yrs old
Preschool: 3yrs (by September 1) and 4 yrs old
Before and after school childcare: kindergarten through 3rd grade, and middle school students

Do I have to come to the office?
You may submit an application from the website by 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?
The CDS enrollment office is located at Washington South
Park at 2828 4th St (between Hill St and Ashland) and walk to the front of the blue building at the driveway. The administrative office is at this location.

Where am I on the wait list?
The wait list is set up on a State or Federal priority basis. In general, CDS is mandated to enroll 4 yr old children before 3 yr olds. Families with lowest incomes are given priority in State and Federal programs.

When can my child start?
After a child has concluded the enrolled 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 need for childcare, programs may be free, full cost, or sliding scale. More information is available here.

How can I know if I will qualify for financial assistance or subsidy?
Eligibility rules are set by the State and Federal 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 accommodations in preschool or after school. CDS staff will work with families to provide appropriate experiences for children with special needs.

Can my special ed student participate if I don’t live in Santa Monica or Malibu?
SMMUSD has specific guidelines for residency requirements for children who need special education services. Usually, special education services are available for Santa Monica and Malibu residents only.

Can I have a tour of your programs?
Yes, tours can be arranged. 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. A volunteer application is the first step. Volunteers must participate in a training session and submit TB test clearance forms.

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

Can I use just the days and hours I need?
Daily attendance is very important for your child’s learning needs. Children are expected to 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, cost effective, educational, and fun.

Which is the best school for my child?
CDS provides high quality programs at all school sites. Individual preferences and availability may govern parent’s school site choices. All schools in SMMUSD provide high quality educational programs.


What types of preschool programs does CDS offer?
CDS offers California State Preschool Program and Head Start classes ranging from 3 hrs to 10 hrs each day. Part day programs are available in the mornings and afternoons. All classes operate 5 days a week.
Programs may be full cost, free, or sliding scale. For more detailed information, click here.

How do Head Start and California State Preschool Program differ?
Head Start is a program for 3 and 4 yr old children from very low income families. CSPP is a state program for 3 and 4 yr old children who need a part day or a full day program and whose families are eligible for no cost, sliding scale, or full cost.

Is it too late to enroll my 4 yr 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.”

What is your preschool curriculum?
Classroom content is structured according to the Creative Curriculum ®. 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 greeting, 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. You can request an assessment by calling 310-450-8338.

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 calling CDS at 310-399-5865. 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 accommodations to 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?
For specific immunization information click here.

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. The Santa Monica Big Blue Bus line provides local transportation.

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 you choose.

Can I attend kindergarten in SMMUSD if I attend preschool through 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 allow an automatic permit for kindergarten. More information on permits is available at 310.450.8338 ext. 70208.


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?
Schedules vary at school sites.
Typically, students have outside play activities from school dismissal until 6:00 p.m.
3:00 Snack, group time, outdoor time, homework
4:00 Art, science, free choice activities
5:30 Clean-up and quiet activities

How is CDS/School-Age Programs different from other after school programs?
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, including field trips.

Will you help my child with homework?
Supervised homework time is included in the daily schedule Monday through Thursday.

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 kindergarten through 3rd grade. Santa Monica City CREST serves 4th and 5th grade students. Child Development Services operates a teen centers for middle school students in Santa Monica. The State of California free or reduced fee programs serve students enrolled in the Lincoln Teen Center until they reach the age of 13. Full cost students may remain in the teen center program through the 8th grade.

Does the monthly fee cover school breaks (winter, spring and summer)?
No. The monthly fee covers school days only. Full day winter, spring and summer programs are available for an additional fee. 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.

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

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District
1651 16th Street
Santa Monica, California 90404