August 22, 2022 1:44 PM
by Ivy Chang
The first years of life are the best time to ensure a strong future for all Santa Monica children. Early education advances equity and is essential for thriving families and communities. Whether children begin care as infants, toddlers, or preschoolers, Santa Monica is home to a wide range of early learning programs, with varying curriculums, hours, and costs.
Enriching and safe care should be available to all children, regardless of their family’s income, needs, race or ethnicity, or the languages they speak. Connections for Children, our local Child Care Resource and Referral agency, can help you find a program that meets your needs and determine if you qualify for funding to help pay for it (connectionsforchildren.org or (310) 452-3325).
Our communities are stronger when every child is healthy, safe, and engaged in early learning. Read on to learn about the passionate and diverse professionals doing this important work in Santa Monica. This is part 7 of a series.
Program Name: Beach Moms Child Development Center (CDC)
Program Director: Celia Fisher
Ages of children served: 2 to 6 years old
Operating Hours: 7:00 am – 5:00 pm, year-round
Brief History: After working in classrooms for children with special needs for 17 years, Celia Fisher established Beach Moms Child Development Center in 2012 as a fully inclusive childcare.
Can you share about the importance of full inclusion and how you implement that in your program?
Beach Moms is a regular preschool, but often we have children who require additional support. Sometimes it is behavioral (which may interfere with academics later), sometimes it’s anxiety, sometimes speech, and sometimes something else altogether. For some children, full inclusion looks like being flexible. That means allowing them to do a half day with our program so they can get services during the other half of the day, or allowing them to do something other than nap if that’s what their brains need, or helping them get to and from the special bus they access. It can also look like being supportive of children with dietary issues. That’s what full inclusion looks like, making provisions, and supporting parents a little more.
How does your background in special needs classrooms inform your work now?
I’m very open to, and supportive of the process of having specialists come in to determine if children in my program can qualify for services such as occupational, physical, or speech therapy. I strongly support parents in following up and addressing whatever developmental concerns are being brought up. I know how to give the parents information and guide them where they need to go to get their kids’ needs met. I don’t want any child to graduate from Beach Moms and realize they should’ve been getting services two years ago. I want to be a help. I don’t want to just keep a contract and make a family happy. I’m here to service the whole child.
Tell us about your experience as the only ECE provider on the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce.
One of my former parents serves as a City Commissioner and recommended that I join the Chamber when there were open spots. I applied, was elected to the Chamber board, and it’s been a great way to learn about and serve small businesses in Santa Monica. Historically the board hasn’t had a lot of diversity, and I am proud to be part of the board and help it to reflect what the community looks like. I also hope other child development professionals will serve on the board or be part of the Chamber of Commerce. Businesses are changing after the past few years, and I’m excited to support businesses that are starting in the community by showing up and being aware of what’s going on in the community.
Please contact Beach Moms CDC directly for more information at beachmomz.com or (310) 957-0326.
For a list of licensed early childhood programs in Santa Monica, go to: santamonicacradletocareer.org/childcare
If you are a licensed ECE provider in Santa Monica who would like to share your story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Administrative Analyst