Frequently Asked questions

Is the CEC a nonprofit organization?

  • The CEC is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and all gifts made to it are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. The CEC's Tax ID Number is 95-3403258.

Is the CEC accredited?

  • Yes, the CEC's Infant-Toddler and Prechool Program and Cooperative Preschool at Caltech are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

What is your curriculum?

  • The CEC’s curriculum and caregiving approach is research-based and designed to meet the emotional, physical, and cognitive needs and interests of children. Well-established early childhood education and brain development theory demonstrate that children thrive and learn best when the environment provides developmentally appropriate and meaningful experiences.

How and when should I apply to enroll my child?

  • The first step is to complete an application specifically for the program you’re interested in. Due to the wait lists for various programs, we advise families to submit the application well in advance of needing care. Prior to enrollment, we also encourage you to review our Parent Handbooks: Infant-Toddler & Preschool Programs, Cooperative Preschool, and/or School-Age Program.

How or when can I come for a tour?

  • We love to have visitors! Since we want to give each family a personal and in-depth tour, we ask that you schedule a visit. Regretfully, drop in visits cannot be accommodated.

What are your different enrollment schedules?

  • In order to accommodate differing parental needs, the CEC offers full-time and various part-time schedules for our Infant-Toddler and Preschool Programs, as well as for our School-Age Program.

What is the CEC’s relationship to Caltech and JPL?

  • The CEC is a private, nonprofit organization and was founded in 1979 at the behest of Caltech and JPL in order to offer a high-quality child care program for its employees. The CEC does receive some financial support from these two institutions and in return, Caltech and JPL employees do receive priority regarding enrollment and a discount on tuition.

Do I have to be a Caltech or JPL employee to enroll my child?

  • No. The CEC, since its inception in 1979, has been open to any and all families who are interested. However, Caltech and JPL employees do receive priority for enrollment as well a tuition discount. All families, whether from the community, Caltech or JPL, are eligible to apply for tuition assistance.

Does the CEC have a wait list?

  • The CEC does have a wait list for each age group in the Infant-Toddler and Preschool Program. The School-Age Program wait list varies by site. Please contact Helen Ruppel, Director of Administration for more information.

Why does the CEC School-Age program have a waitlist?

  • If only it was as simple as hiring more teachers! The CEC, including its School-Age Program, is licensed by the Department of Social Services Community Care Licensing division. This regulatory agency determines enrollment capacity based on the amount of dedicated indoor space available. If or when additional indoor space does become available, there is a lengthy process to increase the number of children we are allowed to serve, sometimes taking over one year to receive. In response to increased need for after school care, the CEC has expanded our licenses at the LCUSD sites several times over the years.

  • Presently, the CEC is utilizing all of the interior space that the schools have been able to allot to our program. The LCUSD schools use every inch of their classroom and outdoor space, and have been generous to reserve a dedicated environment for our programs over the years. We will continue to be in regular communication with principals and district administrators regarding enrollment needs, the status of any waiting list and need for additional space. At this time, they do not have any other classrooms available for our use after school, so expansion options are limited. Thank you for your patience!

Is transportation available from the LCUSD schools to the Oak Grove site?

  • For the past few years, the CEC has provided transportation from Paradise Canyon Elementary School in La Canada to the CEC’s Oak Grove site on Foothill Blvd., for families who want their child to be at the Oak Grove location, or as a temporary care option for children while waiting for an enrollment space with us at their elementary school site.

How much is tuition?

  • Tuition rates depend upon a variety of factors, including affiliation (community, Caltech, JPL) and desired schedule. We do not offer discounts for siblings enrolled in the program.

Where are you located?

  • The CEC is located in La Canada, California, between Pasadena and Glendale. Our Infant-Toddler and Preschool Program, administrative office and one School-Age site are located at 140 Foothill Boulevard. Our four other School-Age sites are located at La Canada Elementary School, Palm Crest Elementary School (La Canada), Paradise Canyon Elementary School (La Canada) and 256 S. Michigan Avenue (Caltech Campus, Pasadena). The Cooperative Preschool at Caltech program is also located at the 250 S. Michigan site at Caltech.

Do you serve lunch?

  • Since children have unique diets, food restrictions, and preferences, parents provide their child’s lunch. In addition, the CEC serves two healthy snacks each day.

What programs do you have for school-age children?

  • We offer before-and after-school care for children in kindergarten through sixth grade at five different locations from September through mid-June. Please find more information on our school-age extended care programs by clicking here.

Do you offer summer programs for elementary children?

The CEC offers a fun ten-week Summer Exploration Camp program for children that begins in June and runs through August.

I have a child with special needs. Can my child attend your program?

  • We welcome the opportunity to enroll children with a range of special needs, developmental delays, disabilities and medical conditions. Please contact our Program Director, Lisa Cain-Chang, for more information regarding the CEC’s inclusion of children with unique needs.

Does the CEC accept funding from outside agencies?

  • Yes, the CEC accepts funding from outside agencies such as Options, Child Care Resource Services, regional centers and other state funding programs.

Do you have any volunteer needs?

  • The CEC believes that our community is strengthened by the participation of our parents in all aspects of the program. Parents with children enrolled in our Infant-Toddler and Preschool programs volunteer their time and talents throughout the year by serving on committees, assisting with special events, classroom needs, and CEC beautification days. To volunteer, please contact Sheryl MacPhee, Director of Development and Communications.

Why are families in the Infant-Toddler and Preschool Programs, and the Cooperative Preschool at Caltech required to do volunteer hours?

  • There are numerous benefits to both the program and families, including: a strengthening of the parent-child-Center relationship; increased involvement in the program which contributes, in part, to ensuring its continued quality; and a strengthening of the community atmosphere.

How do I know what Parent Participation activity fulfills which category?

  • Simple: we’ll tell you in advance! For example, laundry counts as a Miscellaneous activity while serving on the Annual Benefit committee or helping with an Annual Fund mailing counts as Fund Development. And sometimes, an activity can be more than one category–for example, assisting with clean-up for the Annual Benefit can count as either a Fund Development or Work Day activity–and we’ll let you know that, too.

What happens if I/We Don't complete all the necessary hours?

  • Any hours not completed will be billed at $25.00 per hour. A family may also choose to “buy out” of participation.

What happens to parent participation hours if my family enters after the program year begins or leaves prior to the end of the program year?

  • Parent participation hours are pro-rated for either situation and you’ll be notified what amount of hours you will need to complete.

What are your teacher-to-child ratios?

  • Our experience has confirmed that one of the most significant factors in providing a quality environment for children in a group setting is the number of paid, educated, professional staff available with whom the children can interact and relate. Not only do more staff provide better supervision and care, but it also provides a greater variety of personality types for a child to experience and increases the probability that your child will find a "special someone" to bond with. Following are the minimum ratios of paid teachers to children in the different age groups:
Infants 1:3.5 1:4
Toddlers 1:4 1:4
Twos 1:5 1:12
Threes 1:7 1:12
Fours 1:8 1:12