ECE program in Oakland

We live in Oakland and have an almost 3-year-old (Dec. 5 birthday) who’s in a great preschool, but we’re wondering if we should start looking into OUSD’s ECE programs for next school year. Those programs are more affordable, and it would be nice to be at an elementary school that he would attend later. I’m looking for parents who have considered ECE programs. What were your considerations when you were deciding whether to attend? Are there reviews for Oakland ECE centers? If you are attending an Oakland ECE now, how are you and your kid liking it? Thanks so much!

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RE: ECE program in Oakland ()

I'm so sorry to say that the ECE process in OUSD is super unclear and disorganized, AND is also explicitly for very low-income families, which isn't publicized very well. I felt like a fool after trying to navigate the entire process--I applied for my kid as soon as the window opened, didn't hear anything at all by the summer, called several times and couldn't get through, exercised my privilege and drove to the enrollment center, where they asked me my income and seemed confused. Then they told me I'd find out by mid-August if she had a spot. (That is, of course, after school starts.) I got a phone call in mid-October to confirm my income again. (I didn't call back, since now I understood what was going on.) A friend of mine just got a phone call to learn there's a spot for her kid two weeks ago (mid-November!). For those who are low-income: be sure to follow up if you don't hear. For those who can afford preschool: Those spots are for kids whose families can't.

Sure would be lovely to be at the same campus as her sister, though. :)

Sorry for the bad news.

RE: ECE program in Oakland ()

My son has attended the Manzanita ECE since Sept 2022. He is happy and seems to be learning things. I like his teacher pretty well - she seems experienced - but I do get the sense that her workload is heavy and she doesn't always have time to communicate with us as much as I would like. One thing to flag is that the ECEs are not really connected with the elementary schools they share campuses with, at least not Manzanita. But it has been helpful for us to get a feel for the commute since we are considering Manzanita SEED for kindergarten. Another thing is that it's not free unless you income qualify so we pay $700/month for a half-day program which is not super different than some of the cheaper private pre schools. Also we had to wait to enroll until they try to fill all the spots with people who do income qualify so we started school about a month into the year. All in all, I'm glad we did it because my son is happy and it has been good to get an introduction to OUSD generally. 

RE: ECE program in Oakland ()

Important clarification to the previous poster's response: OUSD's ECE program is not explicitly for low-income families; it is just subsidized or free of charge for those families. Families who are not low-income are absolutely welcome, but pay tuition (and low-income families must be offered spots before they move to the full tuition families, so it is true that there is not always room for every child who wants to attend at a given campus). Your child does have enrollment priority at the elementary school where the ECE campus is located when TK rolls around. You can find information on the program offerings and on the current tuition cost at As the TK eligibility window expands--all four-year-olds will soon be eligible for TK--there will likely be more open spots in the ECE programs.