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Early Childhood Education Center

Full-time care is available at the Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC) for children 3 months to 5 years old. The program is open to the children of full-time UC San Diego students, faculty and staff, as well as a limited number of non-UC San Diego affiliates. ECEC currently has approximately 200 children enrolled and is licensed to accommodate 230 children.

At ECEC, we emphasize hands-on, child-driven learning. Children learn by doing – they initiate their own activities and take responsibility for completing them. This ability serves as the foundation for the lifelong learning skills needed for personal, academic and professional success. Read more about our educational philosophies below.

We offer four developmental programs based on an age-appropriate curriculum:

  • Young Infants (3–12 months)
  • Infants (11 months and walking to 24 months)
  • Toddlers (2 years)
  • Preschoolers (3–5 years)

Pay Tuition Online

You can pay monthly tuition online by clicking the link below. You will need the invoice number and payment amount, shown on your monthly invoice. If you do not have your invoice, please email Jenny Tan or call our office at (858) 246-0900.

Pay Now

online payment


ECEC is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the hallmark of a high-quality care and early education program.

NAEYC Staff-to-Child Ratio Recommendations:


Staff-to-Child Ratio








ECEC is inspired by play-based education and the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education – a way of observing what children know, what they are curious about and what challenges them. Learning is hands-on and child-driven with children initiating their own discovery. Parents are collaborators and teachers are facilitators – both are vital partners in learning with the child.

Staff, parents and children collaborate to help bridge the gaps between family, school and community. We encourage other family members to participate in classroom activities ranging from playing with children, reading a story, leading an art activity, or sharing a skill, talent or a culturally significant activity to enrich the curriculum.

We strive to build relationships within our community to enrich each child’s educational experience. Our goal is to make connections with other area schools, libraries, senior living centers, stores and other UC San Diego departments to improve the lives of everyone involved.

At ECEC, we also strive to contribute to an anti-racist and bias-free society. We teach children to be world citizens and endeavor to build community and understanding among families of all cultures and backgrounds. Understanding the need to address many important topics at an early age, teachers collaborate to create a unique set of social justice lessons that help guide and support this endeavor. Using NAEYC’s Four Core Goals of Anti-Bias Education (Identity, Diversity, Justice and Activism), specific activities were designed to guide conversations when teachers recognize entry points into important topics. We hope to strengthen a positive sense of self while building empathy skills and upholding social justice concepts. ECEC Teachers participate in ongoing professional development opportunities to strengthen their knowledge of culturally responsive curricula.

Informational Videos




ECEC operates weekdays, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. year round, excluding university holidays with expected extended hours of 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Fall Quarter 2022.

Late Policy

Parents who do not pick up their children by 5 p.m., or indicated closing time, will be fined $10 for every 10-minute increment past closing time.


Monthly tuition fees include a nutritious morning and afternoon snack. Prices are slightly higher for non-UC San Diego affiliates. A family with more than one child enrolled will receive a 10% reduction on the younger child's tuition. Rates effective September 1, 2023.

Developmental Program Monthly Tuition Community Monthly Tuition Annual Curriculum Fee
Young Infants $2,311 $2,661 $60
Infants $2,225 $2,562 $60
Toddlers $1,940 $2,233 $60
Preschoolers $1,764 $2,032 $60

Tuition Assistance

Students may be eligible to receive tuition assistance for child care services through CCAMPIS.

Alternative Payment Plan

Centralized Eligibility List

These agencies fund the Centralized Eligibility List (CEL): Casa de Amparo, Chicano Federation, Child Development Associates, Inc., Easter Seals Southern California-Leucadia, Educational Enrichment Systems, Inc. and the YMCA Childcare Resource Service. Our local San Diego County CEL supports families in need of help paying for child care. In San Diego County, the YMCA Childcare Resource Service administers the CEL.

The San Diego County CEL allows subsidized child development agencies to find children who are eligible for their programs. CEL uses the term "eligibility" because families are ranked by eligibility factors such as income, family size and need.

San Diego County CEL:

  • Expands family opportunities to access subsidized care for qualifying programs by submitting one application to any participating child development provider
  • Collects family/child application data and maintains eligibility lists according to eligibility rules for state contracted programs
  • Maintains participating child development programs contact information
  • Allows agencies to pull from a wider group of eligible families so their programs remain funded and fully enrolled.

Get more information.

How to Apply

Waiting Pool

All applications are filed by the date received. Each child is then placed in a waiting pool for the appropriate age group. When a vacancy occurs, a child in the waiting pool for that age group is offered a spot in that classroom.

  • If your child reaches the cutoff age while in the waiting pool for a classroom, we will move your child to the next age-appropriate pool. Your child’s application is integrated into this pool according to the date we received your original application. Families of UC San Diego students, faculty, and staff with children concurrently enrolled at ECEC – and who do not receive subsidized care – receive priority enrollment. Children referred by Child Protective Services also receive priority on the subsidized care waiting pool.
  • Parents or guardians must keep contact information current. If we are unable to reach you by phone or mail when an opening occurs, your child(ren) will be removed from the waiting pool.
  • If you inquire about your child’s position on a waiting pool, we can tell you only the estimated wait time for your child to be admitted.



Contact us, (858) 246-0900, 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. weekdays.