Cerritos Preschool Co-Op Provides Quality Education at an Affordable Price

The CPE Tot Lot is one of three local preschools offering an affordable education through their parent cooperative program.

The high cost of preschool or daycare is one of the major complaints of parents of young children throughout the nation.

According to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, the average cost of preschool can range from $5,000 to $13,000 per year depending on location and quality of program. With childcare prices through the roof, it is easy to see why Cerritos parents continue to seek a better alternative.

Parent Cooperative: A Solution to the Preschool Problem

The CPE Tot Lot is one of three local preschools that keep their costs affordable through a parent cooperative program. Here, parents are directly involved in the daily activities and operation of the school, acting as supplemental instructors, caretakers, and administrators. Though it is located at , it functions independent from the city and is governed by a board of elected parents.

Carissa Cordero, CPE Tot Lot Board Member and Tot Lot Parent, spoke to Patch about the benefits of participating in the parent co-op.

"I really like that I can work with my child, other kids, other parents and a teacher on a weekly basis," Cordero said. "I feel I really know what's going on at school."

Coredro said having her child under the guidance of other parent leadership is also an added benefit.

"I also like the exposure my child gets to other parents and other styles of dealing with things such as discipline, learning/teaching styles, etc," she said. "I also get to interact with dozens of other parents and have made some great friends."

Tot Lot Program Structure and Highlights

The program is structured in a way where students are separated by age (ages 2.5-3 years, ages 3.5-4 years, and ages 4.5-5 years) with two parents tending to each group. Each day, the groups rotate between class time, play time, and craft time, with a snack lunch after their second rotation. 

In addition to their daily routine, the students at the CPE Tot Lot also participate in a variety of enrichment activities. For example, the preschool takes the children on monthly field trips to sites like the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, Adventure City, Disney on Ice, and Tanaka Farms. In years past, the students have also been a part of the Cerritos' Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony. 

The CPE Tot Lot also sponsors a Culture Week where parents take turns teaching the students about their heritage. In a city as diverse as Cerritos, the children at the CPE Tot Lot get the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of cultures. Parents bring in toys and other items for the students to see first hand. On the last day of Culture Week, the parents and students come together for a culture potluck to celebrate the what they have learned through the foods of the different cultures.

How to Enroll

The first day of school is scheduled for September 13 and will run through June. When space is available, enrollment is open to Cerritos residents and non-residents. Children must be potty trained and between the ages of 2.5 and 5 years old. For more information, please contact Maricel A. Lacorte of the CPE Tot Lot at 
(562) 547-7034.

Similar programs are also offered at  and .

MarieSam Sanchez August 15, 2011 at 08:45 PM
Very cool Fabi. So good to hear from someone who's had children go through the program. It sounds like such a good option that we are lucky to have in our neighborhood!!!
Cassie Roque August 15, 2011 at 09:00 PM
That is great to hear, Fabi! The more I learn about this program, the move I love it! It is amazing what the local parents can put together!
Michael Brown August 16, 2011 at 02:46 PM
Nicely written and very important story. With the costs of living skyrocketing and basic amenities being out of the financial reach of many people, it's good to see a program like this available. Co-op economics and programs can definitely benefit young families by allowing them to pool resources and time in order to ride out this rough patch we're in. I'll be passing this article and info along to some locals who I know could use it.
Cassie Roque August 16, 2011 at 04:27 PM
Thanks, Michael! It is great to see a collaborative, cost-effective program like this really flourish. Not only do they work to promote multiculturalism, but (as demonstrated by Fabi) the students also graduate with a great education.
yae pun June 06, 2012 at 10:12 PM
It is indeed a great program but with big flaws for ex. the teacher. She has her own son in the program and it has a very negative impact on the kids in the same class as the teacher's son. It is quite obvious he is given many passes on his behavior issues since he is the biggest problem causer in the class. The teacher does overkook his behavior issues whereas in another student he would get punished for or the parents will be told of the issue. IT is a great program but I feel the major flaw would be the teacher and how she has a very low professionalism within the program. She incorporates too much of her own emotions when dealing with the children. Ex. If you reprimand her child and do according to the rules then you will see a definite payback in the way she will treat the child of that mother. Maybe with the change of the teacher it would be a much effecctive program.


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