Early Education in Santa Monica: Growing Place

June 16, 2022 4:41 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 5 of a series.

Program Name: Growing Place

Program Director: Pauline McPeake

Ages of children served: 3 months to 6 years old

Operating Hours: Pandemic Hours (8:00am-4:30pm), Traditionally (7:30am-6:00pm), Year-round

Brief History: Growing Place is a nonprofit child development organization with three centers in Santa Monica. It was established in 1985 for mothers who wanted to be in the workforce and have high-quality education and care.

What do you wish people knew about your program?

We’re a Reggio Inspired program that believes that education should focus on each child in relation to a community of others, rather than each child in isolation. Our curriculum emphasizes the development of children’s social skills, including building friendships, respect for others, conflict resolution, and advocating for one’s needs and ideas. Our goal is to promote self-esteem and creative problem-solving abilities, which helps children gain the confidence to face new experiences.

I also wish more folks knew about our Tuition Assistance Program! We’re for all learners, not only families who can pay full tuition. We have had a tuition assistance program since being established. We also receive a grant from the City to increase affordability for Santa Monica residents.

Have there been any surprises since opening the Early Childhood Lab School? 

I never thought we’d be opening in the backdrop of a pandemic. We’ve been delighted at the number of parents that were willing to trust Growing Place and become founding parents at our newest center. It is really meaningful that parents are interested in supporting the developing workforce by enrolling at a demonstration site!

We’re all trying to establish community—a sense of place, understanding, and belonging—in a time when bringing people together is tricky.

Can you share more about Growing Place’s work with college students studying early care and education?

We care deeply about high-quality education for young children and acknowledge that is only possible through the early childhood educator workforce. We have worked with Santa Monica College, CSUN, Cal State LA, RIE, and other programs to give early childhood education students a place to observe high-quality student-teacher interactions. We’re part of the fabric of the Santa Monica community, with people on all parts of the continuum of learning.

Please contact Growing Place directly at growingplace.org or (310) 434-3811.

Past blog posts:

Homepage for ECE Blog Post Series

Authored By

Ivy Chang
Senior Administrative Analyst


Business, Programs, Youth And Seniors