Children's Center & Lab School

Program Offerings

The Cabrillo College Children's Center & Lab School has been in operation over four decades and is licensed by Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing

(License #'s: 444400156 & 440702549).

We offer part day early care & education services to children (6 months through 5 years of age). We are open from 8:30-12:45 Monday through Friday, following the Cabrillo College Academic (160 day) Calendar. Through our CCAMPIS Federal Funding, extended day child care services are available for a limited number of eligible children.

Nutritious Meals

The Center participates in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which plays a critical role in supporting the wellness, health, and development of children, through the provision of nutritious foods. We offer a daily morning snack and lunch to all children. Weekly menus are developed using MyPlate as a resource and include a variety of organic and non-organic food choices. We encourage families to share their favorite cultural recipes and food suggestions with us, as a way to support a variety of food preferences. Accommodations are made for any child with food allergies or sensitivities.

We believe that early care and education providers have a powerful opportunity to instill healthy habits in young children that serve as a foundation for healthy choices in life.

The Center operates three (3) Laboratory Classrooms, providing early care and education for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

To ensure the highest level of quality in each classroom, the Center participates in California's Early Care & Education Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), a statewide effort to build strong foundations that support young children and their families through ongoing program quality assessments. We are very proud that our center has consistently been assessed and rated at the highest level of the QRIS system since its inception.

Our Exceptional Infant & Toddler Care Program

For over two decades, the Margo Trombetta Infant & Toddler Program has been recognized as one of the four state-wide demonstration site model programs by the California Department of Education, Early Learning Services Division and by the WestEd Program for Infant and Toddler Care (PITC), providing the highest quality of infant and toddler care practices in California. The PITC approach emphasizes relationship-based implementation strategies and caregiving practices that are responsive and respect the diverse cultures, lifestyles, preferences, abilities, learning styles, and needs of the children and families served.

Our Infant Classroom serves: Children ages 6 months through approximately 24 months of age, with a ratio of one (1) primary caregiver to two to three (2-3) infants and a group size of eight (8) or fewer. Age ranges in the infant classroom may vary depending on the development of a child and particular needs of a family.

Our Toddler Classroom serves: Children approximately 24 months through 36 months of age, with a ratio of one (1) primary caregiver to four (4) toddlers and a total group size of twelve (12) or fewer. Age ranges in the toddler classroom may vary depending on the development of a child and particular needs of a family.

Children in both classrooms are assigned a "primary caregiver" who serves as the main adult to assist with all of their individual care needs. They observe, assess, plan curriculum and meet with individual families on a daily basis to share information about their child's growth and development.

Our Exceptional Preschool Program

Our Preschool Classroom serves: Children approximately 36 months through 60 months of age, or entry into kindergarten, with a ratio of one (1) primary caregiver to adult to eight (8) children and a total group size of twenty four (24) or fewer.

The Center provides a developmentally appropriate school readiness program in our largest laboratory classroom. Children are assigned to a "primary caregiver" who observes, assesses, documents, and plans curriculum based on their knowledge of each child. They also interact with individual families on a daily basis to share the progress of their child. Each primary caregiver works with small groups to allow for important social interaction to occur among children and adults.

Social-emotional development and competency is the foundation of the planned curriculum for all children. Adults listen carefully to children, encouraging them to ask questions or make observations, direct reflections on actions and outcomes, and help children work cooperatively with their peers. Through the creative use of our large outdoor and indoor learning environments, preschoolers have much more space in which to work than is normally available in larger group care settings.

Our play-based curriculum is designed to provide for the many areas of growth in young children. Learning through play includes these types of activities:

Sensory experiences: Children have the opportunity to manipulate, mix, measure and experiment with a range of sensory materials, including clay, sand, flour, mud, salt and water. Cooking experiences help students understand the need for following directions, and making materials like play dough provides wonderful opportunities for innovative experimentation with materials. As children watch the transformation of materials as they are mixed, heated or cooled, they develop important observational and conceptual skills.

Creative expression: Children have access to a rich variety of media for artistic expression. In addition to teacher-prepared art experiences, a child may select materials for self-directed projects in painting, printing and drawing. These activities develop the child's fine motor skills using a variety of media that include threading, gluing and 3-D construction.

Dramatic play: The dramatic play area provides children with props to explore various roles, relationships and interactive strategies through imaginative play. The area undergoes frequent changes–becoming a fire station, a pediatrician's office, a restaurant, an office or an airliner–as children use their own actions to understand their world.

Listening center tasks: Children listen to stories read to them by adults, participate in flannel board stories, and listen to recorded materials. They develop skills in verbal expression, listening, comprehension, vocabulary and auditory discrimination of words and rhymes.

Cognitive tasks: Each day different types of puzzles, memory games, measurement tools, cubes, scales and other manipulative materials are set up for the children to explore. These tasks are designed to help children develop their concepts of size, position, color, shape, time, quantity and comparison. Adults are available to help children learn from their observations and to challenge them to use material in new ways.

Pre-writing and writing projects: Children use scissors, paste, and a variety of writing and printing tools – including computers – to create books, labels, stories, captions, poems, signs and banners. These activities focus on fine motor control, eye/hand coordination and visual discrimination. Children develop an understanding and appreciation of early literacy skills.

Science experiments: Children participate in activities, such as sprouting seeds, growing plants, examining materials with magnification and microscopes, examining and building simple structures, and experiment with a variety of recycled materials. These tasks promote basic thinking skills and understanding of cause and effect relationships, sequence and predictions. Children's curiosity about their physical world provides the direction for construction of these tasks.

In addition to these learning centers and our large outdoor play area, a number of additional activities are always available to children, including a block-building construction area, a dramatic play corner, a writing center, a library area and open shelves of art materials for children to freely choose what interests them.

Another option for full day, full year child care services…
Casa Peqũena Family Child Care Homes Early Education Network

For the past two-decades, the Cabrillo College Children's Center & Lab School is proud to partner with Casa Pequeña Early Educators to offer our community free or low-cost child care funding for families who qualify based on their need for child care and their income. The Center receives funding from the California Department of Education, Early Learning & Care Division to host this exemplary network of home-based educators to provide an additional delivery system for child care that is desperately needed for student parents and working families with limited income.

Casa Pequeña is a Child Care Network comprised of 10 home-based programs facilitated by highly experienced, well-trained professional staff (referred to as Early Educators) who currently serve 108 families throughout Santa Cruz County. Each home-based program is fully licensed through the Department of Social services, Community Care Licensing and offers a year-round and full-day program for infants through school-age children. Enrollment capacity varies between each provider depending on their operational license.

Casa Peqũena Philosophy

We believe that a child matures most successfully in a warm, comfortable, thoughtfully planned environment that respects individual differences and supports each child's opportunity to learn through play. Therefore, each Casa Pequeña Early Educator carefully plans curriculum activities and creates learning environments around the developmental needs of each child. We closely observe caregiving routines such as eating, diapering/toileting, washing, and napping and believe they are important learning opportunities in settings where children can learn about self-concept, health & safety, and positive interactions. These routines also allow children to develop trust, autonomy, physical skills and a sense of self-competence. Routines are seen as vitally important parts of each child's daily experience.

Research validates that "play" is a child's most effective way to learn, explore, think, talk, and create about the world around them. Exploration through play supports each child's physical, intellectual, and social/emotional development. Through children's play, they learn important and essential skills to assist with the development of social competence, building strong relationships, working through conflicts and concerns, develop their minds and their bodies and build their understanding and ability to feel success and optimism, as they make their own choices. The focus on play-based curriculum is a known stress release; it is often linked to child wellbeing.

Respecting a child's ability to make their own choices, our Casa Pequeña Teacher/Providers offer a rich daily schedule for children to make choices of curriculum activities that interest them the most. Planned curriculum supports a child's intellectual development through social interaction and a variety of learning opportunities. The activities are age-appropriate and may include cooking, building with blocks, being read to, exploring different textures and shapes, carpentry, gardening, puzzles, manipulating educational materials, observing nature, singing and dancing, creative arts, as well as large muscles developing activities such as running, jumping, climbing and crawling. Many of these activities incorporate (school readiness skills) pre-reading and math skills, such as beginning sounds and symbols, letter recognition, counting, classifying and sorting.

Our Casa Pequeña Teacher/Providers offer many opportunities for children to practice and refine their social emotional skills such as mutual problem solving, cooperation, communicating individual needs and helping others. A big part of the philosophy focuses on building an anti-bias program to positively respond to the challenges facing children and families in our highly diverse and inequitable world. The anti-bias approach builds children's critical thinking skills, focuses on observation, listening, asking and answering questions, and creating an authentic learning environment that ensures diversity (in all its forms) is present, while also affirming a child's reality and value.

Casa Pequeña Network Providers/Teachers have a wide variety of responsibilities to ensure that each program provides the highest quality of home-based care. In addition, to be a part of the Network, Providers/Teachers must also do the following activities to meet the program guidelines:
  • Participate in on-going professional development to increase and maintain professional skills. Attend monthly meetings and provide support to others in the group.

  • Implement the use of the Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale (FCCERS) to ensure learning environments incorporate high-quality options for children.

  • Implement the use of the Desired Results Developmental Profile Assessment System (DRDP), which includes observing and documenting each child's development and conducting conferences with each family.

  • Create individual developmental portfolios for each child as a way to document and assess their developmental progress.

  • Survey families for their feedback to establish annual improvement program goals.

  • Maintain enrollment procedures that meet the funding guidelines

Maintain each family's need for confidentiality. *Details of children/families personal information is never shared among providers.