Early Childhood Education

Our Program

Our Early Childhood Education program is well-respected in Santa Cruz County and beyond - for our state aligned coursework, complemented by hands-on experience; our anti-bias and social justice approach; our focus on relationship building; or Spanish-to-English pathway; and our strong support for students. We are the only program in Santa Cruz County that offers Early Childhood coursework that leads to eight different Certificates of Achievement, two degrees (an Associate in Science and an Associate in Science - Transfer), one Skills Certificate, two Certificates of Completion, and the coursework and experience needed to obtain a California Child Development Permit.

When you complete our program, you will have the skills and experiences needed to provide the highest quality care for the youngest children and their families in our community and beyond.

The Child Development Training Consortium has created this permit matrix. We encourage you to review it as you consider advancing your career.

Our program provides students the opportunity to study and gain knowledge regarding:

  • child development from conception through adolescence;

  • communication and relationship building;

  • the role of the family, school and community in children’s development;

  • partnerships with families;

  • designing and implementing curriculum and environmental design;

  • cultural and linguistic competency, anti-bias/anti-racist/social justice perspectives in teaching and caring for children;

  • working with children with disabilities;

  • health, safety, and nutrition in the childcare setting;

  • observation and assessment of young children;

  • and caring for, and teaching, infants, and toddlers.

Check out the many job opportunities on this Childcare Pathways graphic.

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Cabrillo College Children’s Center & Lab School

The on-site Cabrillo College Children’s Center & Lab School (CCCC&LS), an integral part of the Early Childhood Education Department, offers child care services on campus for children five months old to five years of age, and also in our own network of family child care homes, Casa Pequeña, for children zero to five years of age, located in both Mid and South county. While caring for the children of Cabrillo students and staff, the CCCC&LS provides instructional and laboratory experiences for our Cabrillo Early Childhood Education students.

Early Childhood Education students have the opportunity to complete their supervised student teaching at the CCCC&LS. Students will enroll in Early Childhood Education Student Teaching Practicum (ECE54) for a total of 4 units. While Student Teaching, students will participate two mornings each week in one of the Cabrillo College Children's Center & Lab School classrooms, followed by a daily seminar at, and a bi-weekly seminar.

Social Justice, Equity, Diversity and Anti-Bias Education

The ECE Department is committed to building a program that addresses issues of equity, diversity.

We base this work on the knowledge that children’s social identities (culture, race, gender, economic class, abilities, etc.) begin to form at birth and are a fundamental part of who they are. Those social identities are both externally imposed from the society at large and internally constructed within the child. They reflect the group advantages and disadvantages of the larger society.

In concert with the ethics and policy statements of the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s on equity and diversity, we work towards integrating these concepts into our courses, and offer three classes that specifically focus upon these issues:

We strive to support students to feel strong and proud in their social identities and to develop the critical thinking skills to be able to give voice to their own experiences; advocate for themselves and their communities; and to develop the collaboration skills that are the key to creating a just society with access for all.

The Margo Trombetta Anti-Bias Children's Peace Library

More than 1300 carefully selected, age appropriate, beautiful picture books live in the Early Childhood Education Department Room 1508 in the Children’s Peace and Anti-bias Library. Each book has been carefully chosen to support young children’s emerging literacy, their individual and family identities, and their growing capacity for empathy, problem solving, and sense of fairness. The books are selected for children from infancy through age eight and may be accessed by Cabrillo students and staff to check out and share with children. Cabrillo students can also receive credit and internships to work in the library.

The Peace Library web site contains a search engine to help teachers and families around the world select books based on children’s individual and family identities, children’s ages, Peace Education strands, Anti-Bias goals, and the content and types of books. Each book in the database has a short description and a photo of the cover. The site also includes support for effective reading with children and using books in classroom settings.

The Department also offers credit courses which include the use of children’s books on peace education, early childhood anti-bias approaches, and emergent literacy.

The Library is a volunteer effort funded entirely by donations and staffed by students, faculty, and community members in Santa Cruz, California.


Spanish to English Pathway

The Early Childhood Education Department has consistently served Latine students in our community. Today, 64% of the Early Childhood Education student population has been Latine, many of whom are adult learners. Cabrillo’s Early Childhood Education Spanish-to-English program, begun 30 years ago, is dedicated to serving Latine students who are English language learners by offering the ECE core courses in a Spanish format. The Early Childhood Education Department also participates in the I-Best teaching model at Cabrillo in some of our courses. In this model, classes are taught with two instructors, one ECE instructor, and one ESL instructor. This allows students to succeed in the Early Childhood Education coursework while working on their English language skills. Our success with the Spanish-to-English program has earned us local, state, and national recognition.


Family Child Care

Family Child Care Providers are small business owners who provide care for young children in their homes. The Early Childhood Education Department provides training and education for Family Child Care Providers by focusing on the unique needs of family childcare, as well as those of center-based care throughout the Early Childhood Education curriculum.

Many of the 400+ Family Child Care Providers in Santa Cruz County have completed their Associate in Science Degree or Certificates in Early Childhood Education from Cabrillo College. Many other Family Child Care Providers and people considering becoming providers currently take courses in the Early Childhood Education Department.

Your Early Childhood Education Faculty are available to meet with you to develop or update your academic plans.