Strengthening Families Through the Early Learning Center

We understand how hard it can be to find a fun, safe place where you and your child can play, learn and grow together with other families in your community. Come enjoy CDI Early Learning Center (ELC), where ALL young children and their families are welcome to thrive and… it’s FREE.

Serving over 7,000 children and their families annually, the ELC offers families a safe, nurturing environment with age-appropriate play and learning activities that parents can take home and replicate, along with free developmental screenings and engaging parenting workshops. A leading expert for over 22 years in early child development, the Child Development Institute (CDI) serves as a community resource to guide, support and empower families as they navigate their child’s development.

Why is play important for young children?

Play is the work of children. Play gives children an opportunity to use their creativity while developing their imagination and dexterity. Play also supports physical, cognitive, communicative, social, emotional and adaptive skills. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact with the world around them. Play is vital to healthy brain development. For more research on the importance of play, check out our online resource center.  (LINK TO RESEARCH PAGE)

The Early Learning Center offers a safe and welcoming space, resources and support to families which facilitate healthy development for kids of all backgrounds. My daughter Suzy said it is a place where you learn how to play with other kids. The staff at ELC are doing a great job including all children. Even the volunteers reflect this inclusivity as some of them have special needs.

– Ashley Henriquez,
ELC Family

I’m so thankful for the CDI Early Learning Center – it was perfect for us. It has been very important for Sofia and our family. Our experience helped Sofia AND us as parents. She’s an only child and we don’t have a lot of family around. When we spend time at ELC, it is wonderful to see her become more comfortable with other kids and adults.  It is a great help for her and us. Sofia really liked Ms. Jamie and that really helped her build trust for other adults. They gave us some tools for our parenting. Before spending time at the ELC, I would play with her as well as I knew how but at the ELC I learned a different way. I learned to be present and not be on my phone. I have to set my phone down and be more focused on her. The center gives parents a free, safe place to be with their children and learn alongside them.

-Tomas Espinoza
ELC Dad of Sofia

Our approach is…

Family-Focused: Children and their parents/caregivers are encouraged to explore and learn together in fun, hands-on ways.

Holistic: We consider the child as an entire, integrated person and work to support all aspects of a child’s growth.

Compassionate: Our staff and volunteers provide emotional support and education to help your family.

Welcoming: ALL families are welcomed warmly and treated like family.

Preventative: When young children are observed in a natural environment, challenges may be identified earlier and sometimes even prevented.

Our Early Learning Center promotes healthy development for all young children and provides connection to community resources and opportunities to strengthen families. This integrated, play-based learning model promotes healthy development in a safe, engaging environment.

Our family moved to Canoga Park and I had a 1 year old and a 4 year old.  I was new to the community and looking for all the free things in town to entertain my kids and visited the ELC.  I love that the ELC gives families of all backgrounds equal space to come.  Everyone is treated the same.  The parents are there and involved.  It is a learning process together.  I took my neighbor’s daughter who is from a Spanish speaking only home.  She participated in Story Time and was answering questions in English.  I was so excited, she is getting ready for Kindergarten and beginning to speak English thanks to spending time at the ELC.

– Ashley Henriquez,
ELC Family