Classroom at UW-Madison Child Development Lab

The CDL will be open from 7:30am-5:30pm for the 2021-2022 school year, starting August 25th, 2021.

COVID-19: A Message from the CDL

Update from CDL Director Jill Riley, July 22nd, 2021, 4:39 p.m.

Greetings CDL families,

Welcome to the start of the upcoming 2021-22 academic school year that is just around the corner. The first day children attend is set for August 25th. We continue to evolve into our “new normal” programming.  Below is the information that will help you prepare for the 2021-22 school year.

One thing that remains a constant for us at the CDL is how we feel about communication.  Bi-directional communication is very important and highly valued by everyone at the CDL.  If you have ideas, questions or concerns that come up during the school year, please let us know what is on your mind.  Establishing strong and successful relationships with our CDL families is the foundation for everything we do together. We want to be sure that your questions get answered and any concerns that come up are addressed.  This will help our relationships to stay healthy and productive together.

COVID Polices and Addendum 

Your child’s health and safety are always the first priority at the CDL.

New and continuing CDL families need to read our current COVID policies found on our website.

All families will also need to read, sign, and return the 2021-22 CDL COVID Addendum to the CDL by August 10.  The addendum is attached to this email and has been revised for the start of our 2021-22 school year.  Policies will be updated as needed and any changes will be shared with CDL families.

Please return signed COVID Addendum to:

Jill Riley

Update from CDL Director Jill Riley, May 27th, 2020, 7:33 p.m.

Dear CDL Families,

We have enjoyed keeping in touch with you and your children virtually and have been amazed at our families’ abilities to creatively balance having children at home while needing to fulfill work and school responsibilities.  As the UW Madison campus starts its phased reopening, the CDL is developing plans with a goal of reopening on June 29th.  Changes to guidance are possible if a resurgence of COVID-19 cases were to occur in our area.  We would promptly inform families if there was any change to this reopening date.

We are doing everything we can to create a thoughtful and thorough plan for reopening the CDL as safely as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is likely that the CDL will reopen in phases with smaller group sizes and priority given to children of essential employees.  There are many details being worked out by the CDL teachers and administrators and we will keep you informed with regular communication as our plans progress.

The CDL administrative team has been appointed by the Chancellor to the campus  Child Care Task Force.  We have been working with the other child care programs on campus (Waisman Early Childhood Program and Eagles’ Wing) and with experts from across campus (e.g., University Health Services, Risk Management, Office of Human Resources) to create unified policies for reopening all of the UW Madison campus child care programs.  We held a listening session for teachers and look forward to the parent listening session tomorrow.  Thank you for completing the survey, as parent input is critical to our decision-making and planning process.

Since we initially planned to be closed during the week of June 29th-July 3rd, this week of care will be an add-on to the annual contract.  If you choose not to receive care during that week, there will be no tuition charges or holding fees.  To sign up for care the week of June 29th-July 2nd, please email: by June 4th. Tuition for these 4 days of care will be: $380 for infants, $278.40 for toddlers, and $253.60 for preschoolers (calculated by taking the weekly rate divided by 5 days, multiplied by 4 days).

If your family is planning  to withdraw from the CDL, we will need your 30-day notice by June 4th to avoid further tuition charges.  If you choose to withdraw for summer, you will be at risk for losing your spot for Fall. Alternatively, you can choose to opt-out of care for the summer and pay a holding fee to retain your spot for the Fall.  Infant and toddler classrooms (Honeybee, Dragonfly, Chipmunk, & Ducks)  will be charged 25% of regular tuition rates to hold their space for fall.  Children in Preschool classrooms (Bunny, Otter & Fox) currently have the option to pay a summer holding fee to hold their spot for fall, we will honor that, and  preschool families would pay the $50/session to hold their spot for fall.

If you need to make changes to your summer enrollment, email: by June 4th.

We will continue to be in touch with you regarding our COVID-19 adjustments, including policies, procedures, tuition, and program schedule.  We appreciate your patience as we all navigate this unprecedented situation. We look forward to seeing many of you at our virtual family listening session tomorrow from 1-2 pm.


CDL Administrative Team

Update from CDL Director Jill Riley, April 3, 2020, 8:38 a.m.

Dear CDL Families,

This past week I had the opportunity to meet virtually with other early care and education program directors in our area along with local pediatrician, Dr. Dipesh Navsaria. Dr. Navsaria took time to answer our questions on COVID-19 and shared his recent article about how this event may impact children. I felt reassured as one of the first things he discussed was the importance of staying connected to the children and families in our programs during this period of separation and social distancing. This is a key part of how we model healthy responses to help our children adapt to these challenging circumstances. I hope the resources we have provided by email and online have proven useful to you in that regard and that they help to maintain connection with your little ones. Below are further updates and reminders regarding Dependent Care FSA adjustments, automatic bill pay for tuition, and student staff.

Dependent Care FSA election

Some of you may have a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) set up through your employer. If you are employed by UW–Madison, see the contribution adjustment information below.

At any time, if there is an unexpected change in child care location, situation, and/or cost, this constitutes a “Qualifying Event,” and employees may make changes to their DCFSAs. If the employee is now staying home with their child(ren) and the children are no longer in day care, the employee may submit an Election Change Request within 30 days of the Qualifying Event [note: CDL officially closed March 16]. The change will take place the 1st of the month on/following the receipt of the application. This will also work in reverse. If the child should return to daycare, the employee may submit a new Election Change Request within 30 days of the Qualifying Event to reinstate or re-enroll in the DCFSA benefit.

If you are not employed by UW–Madison, please consult with your employer’s human resources specialist.

Automatic bill payment through your bank

For families with automatic bill payment arranged to pay CDL tuition, remember to contact your bank to pause payment since the CDL is not charging tuition during the closure.

MMSD & CDL 4K Programming

Last week, I worked with the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) and other community programs to create a Virtual Learning Plan for our CDL 4K groups. The good news is we have already begun providing the educational content required by our MMSD contract via the resources and activities you are receiving from your child’s classroom teacher. We will further fine-tune our content to match MMSD 4K requirements and provide detailed information about this to CDL 4K families by April 6.

CDL student staffing

Many of our families have asked about the well-being of our students. First, to their academic progress, we have been working to find meaningful ways for our student interns to finish out their spring semester. They are happy to reconnect with the teachers via virtual meetings, and they are missing the CDL children and families a great deal. As for their financial security, campus has provided them income continuation, details of which were sent to them last week. In addition, our Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) has moved up its annual student appreciation week from late April to now to lift their spirits and let them know how much our whole CDL community appreciates each of them.

Reopening date pending

Currently, the State of Wisconsin and Dane County are both under strict Safer At Home orders through at least April 24. CDL and campus leadership are actively monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic specifics in our area and will update you as we learn more. At this time, we cannot predict a reopening date.

Meanwhile, know that every member of the CDL family misses seeing you and your children, and we eagerly await the day when we will be able to reconnect in person. Until then we will continue with our creative connections, outreach, and relationship-building and stay grateful for the shared support of our CDL community.

Kind regards,

Jill Riley

Update from CDL Executive Director Amy Lee Wagner, March 20, 2020, 8:07 p.m.

Dear CDL Families,

Wednesday (3/18) afternoon, campus issued an update regarding Campus Childcare, closing all UW centers immediately to both essential and non-essential employees and offering alternative resources for families.

The Office of Child Care and Family Resources (OCCFR) has provided all campus families with two resources for families seeking care during the UW campus child care closures:

  1. One of the UW-Madison Network Centers is staying open and may have space for your children. Please submit your request for child care on the Little Chicks Learning Academy hourly-care reservation webpage.

  2. OCCFR has been offering current UW-Madison students and employees a free premium membership to This online platform offers a database of qualified providers that fit the child care needs of your family. Register for through OCCFR. You will be contacted within 24 hours of registering with further instructions.

Another resource recommended by campus is the Community Coordinated Child Care, Inc. (4-C), which is part of a network of accredited, non-profit Wisconsin Child Care Resource & Referral agencies providing advocacy and support services for child care in Dane and surrounding counties.  The CDL continues to await further campus guidance on how the we can support families seeking in-home care at this time.

How do we plan to maintain relationships with children & families while we are closed?

Relationships are the foundation of our work together. We are facing new challenges and finding ways to stay connected during these unprecedented times. We are working together as staff to creatively address CDL families’ needs. After a virtual Wednesday staff meeting, we have created plans to continue to reach out with additional resources in supporting you and your children, so please monitor your email for messages from your children’s teachers explaining these efforts for each classroom. We also plan to streamline our email communications with you and share content via Box. Additionally, we will contact all 4K families when MMSD gives us updates that would affect your child’s programming.

When will the CDL reopen?

At this time, the CDL will remain closed until further information is received from Campus, the Governor, the Wisconsin Department of Health, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction,Public Health of Madison and Dane County, the Department of Children and Families, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that it is safe to reopen. Should we reopen before the completion of spring semester, be advised that the CDL may need to operate on a reduced schedule due to potential staffing shortages. Families will be notified immediately when decisions have been made about reopening.

What are CDL Policies about Pandemics, Withdrawing from the Program, and Tuition?

We recognize that COVID-19 is impacting everyone financially, so we want to provide families with some additional information regarding tuition and continued enrollment. Here is the CDL’s pandemic policy, as stated on the back of your contract:

In the unlikely event that the child care center may close temporarily due to a pandemic or other emergency, parents are responsible for tuition payments to the center in which the child is enrolled for closings of a duration between a minimum of 1 and maximum of 10 consecutive business days for each occurrence. Should the center be closed for a period of over two weeks (10 consecutive business days), parent fees are due to the center for the first 10 consecutive business days, but parent fees are not due beyond the first 10 consecutive business days through the date the center reopens.

In the next few days, the CDL administrative team will email each family regarding tuition due, credits on your account, and/or refunds upon the assumption that we will be closed for at least 10 consecutive business days. After 10 consecutive days of closure, your children are still considered enrolled in the CDL upon reopening, but we will not charge families tuition until operations resume. While we hope that all of our CDL families will be able to return to care, we know that there are many factors that go into each family’s decision-making process. Should you need to withdraw your child from the CDL, below is CDL’s withdrawal policy for your reference:

Parents withdrawing their child(ren) from the program must give a minimum of 30-days written notice. Parents are responsible for payment of tuition for the entire time the child is enrolled including the required notice period.

If you need to give your 30-day notice to withdraw your child from the CDL, you are still only responsible for 10 (working) days of tuition, as long as we remain closed during your entire 30-day notice period. Your children are still enrolled in the CDL during your 30-day notice period, and you have the right for your child(ren) to attend should the CDL reopen before your 30-day notice period is complete. Families are responsible for tuition for any days the CDL is open until the end of the 30-day withdrawal notice period, should families choose to use the care or not.

If you need to withdraw your child from the CDL at this time, you must re-apply for the waitlistand are not guaranteed enrollment for the 2020-21 CDL school year. Withdrawing from the CDL during the current contract period voids your signed contract for the 2020-21 CDL school year.

How CDL Teachers and Students are Impacted by the Closure:

Many CDL Families have written in the last few days to express their deep concerns about how COVID-19 is impacting our teachers, our interns, and the many other UW students who work with us. We are grateful for your concerns and well-wishes. We will continue to update you as we get more information about how the UW plans to support its early childhood education programs and teachers during the COVID-19 crisis.

All of our lead teachers are full-time salaried employees.  For now, our teachers will be working on special projects from home and will continue to be creative in finding ways to stay connected to your children. With the exception of student hourly employees, all UW employees are receiving 80 hours of UW COVID-19 leave should they be unable to work due to COVID-19 related issues.

The Chancellor has encouraged all UW students to stay home for the remainder of the semester, and all UW classes will be conducted online for that period. As for these interns’ and students’ academic progress, we will contact families to assist us in creatively helping them complete their requirements for the semester.

Regarding their financial security, UW students working as hourly employees at the CDL do not have the same benefits as our full-time salaried staff. Campus is exploring options for providing financial relief to student hourly employees, but details are not known at this time. True to form in the generosity and care of our CDL families, many of you have communicated your concerns for these students. Please see the campus COVID-19 website for ways to support UW students.

How will the CDL closure affect Student Parents who rely on Child Care Assistance?

If you are a student-parent family receiving child care tuition assistance (CCTAP or CCAMPIS), the Office of Child Care and Family Resources (OCCFR) has assured us that the COVID-19 situation will not affect your CCTAP or CCAMPIS funding for spring semester. Your award amount(s) will be paid to your childcare provider following the normal invoicing process. Please contact Barb Douglas ( at OCCFR if you are concerned you will not be able to pay your tuition co-payment should the CDL reopen before the completion of spring semester. All UW students are also encouraged to apply for Emergency Assistance through the Office of Student Financial Aid.

We thank each and every one of our CDL families for their patience and concern as we navigate this unprecedented situation. As always, we will continue to keep you fully updated on what we know. Please also see the CDL’s Facebook page for links to resources to support your children through this difficult time. Stay well.

Your CDL Directors,

Amy Wagner, Jill Riley, & Kristin Orlowski

Update from CDL Executive Director Amy Lee Wagner, March 16, 2020, 4:42 p.m.

Dear CDL community,

So many of you have reached out in recent days to offer encouragement as we navigate this crisis. Thank you for that. It has been a difficult time for all of us.

This afternoon, the UW Executive Committee made the decision to close all campus child care centers, including the CDL at the end of the end of today’s business day. To assist the university in continuing to serve children of essential staff, please take this survey about your essential employee status and childcare needs.

We understand that this prompts many questions about tuition and other logistics, and we assure you we are working with campus to explore additional support on these matters. We also know that several of you were upset to learn the CDL was open today and we empathize with your concerns. This decision was made in response to the press conference from Public Health Madison and Dane County late yesterday, as well as the university’s concern regarding childcare needs of essential personnel.  

As always, know that we will provide you all available updates and decisions that affect the CDL community. Many of you have known us for months or years at this point, and together we have cultivated a trusting relationship over the shared commitment to caring for your children. It is easiest to honor that in good times, over the joy of a child’s latest artwork or funny stories shared at drop-off or pick-up times; it is much harder to do so in an unprecedented and anxious moment like now. We know that everyone is doing their best, and we thank you for it.

To every bunny, chipmunk, honeybee, otter, duck, dragonfly, and fox, and to every parent and caregiver, teacher, and staff member stepping up to help… we continue to appreciate you.


Amy Lee Wagner, PhD, MAEd, CDL Executive Director
Jill Riley, CDL Director

Update from CDL Executive Director Amy Lee Wagner, March 15, 2020, 9:03 p.m.

Dear CDL Community,

The Chancellor posted another update (this one for UW employees) at 5:44 this evening (Chancellor’s March 15th COVID-19 update).  In this update was a mention of campus childcare centers :

“Information to families who are enrolled at campus childcare centers will be provided in a separate communication.”

Dean Shim, Jill, Kristin, and I have been on a series of calls all evening to answer questions and give our advice to the Chancellor’s office on how the CDL should move forward, especially in light of the new information about the COVID-19 situation this weekend.  We are awaiting the Chancellor’s decision and will email you as soon as we hear.

Families – please be sure to update your plan’s for your child’s attendance, as we know you might have changed your plans over the weekend.  We have been doing our best to consolidate the survey information with emails to your teachers and to the admin team.  We appreciate you taking a few minutes to help us get all of this information in one place as quickly as possible.

Thank you for your patience, understanding, and incredible cooperation during this challenging time.  As Mr. Rogers said, in times like these, we need to focus on the HELPERS.  We see them all around the CDL family these days and we are grateful!

Stay well!

Amy, Jill, & Kristin

Update from CDL Executive Director Amy Lee Wagner, March 13, 2020, 4:44 p.m.

To our valued CDL community: We have received several questions regarding domestic travel recommendations, tuition policy, and staff return plans. As this is a continually evolving situation, we must defer to the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding self-quarantine and -isolation for any travel you undertake, measured from the final day of your travel for any places you visited or passed through. As to other questions, please know that we are doing our best and working with key stakeholders and leadership to get answers to you as soon as possible. Our priority remains the care, health, and safety of all members of our CDL community: children, staff, and families. Thank you in advance for your understanding and partnership in this trying and historic moment.

CDL families, staff, and students: Please complete this survey ASAP to help inform our planning and response efforts.
Please also ensure your contact information is up-to-date in our records.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Dear CDL Community,

As many of you are aware, Chancellor Blank sent an email yesterday morning regarding UW–Madison’s response to the COVID-19 virus (her message can be found on the UW–Madison COVID-19 website), and SoHE Dean Soyeon Shim wrote to the SoHE community yesterday evening. The CDL and SoHE will be following the recommendations of the Chancellor regarding our response to the COVID-19 virus.

We ask that everyone in the CDL community remain flexible, understanding, and patient as we all work together to deal with the COVID-19 situation. As part of the School of Human Ecology, the CDL’s focus is on keeping all humans (both big and small) in our community safe and healthy. We recommend these additional resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: FAQ on COVID-19 and children and a guide for talking with children about this event. We will also be providing updates on our website at

The CDL’s current plan for responding to the COVID-19 situation is as follows:

1) CDL Schedule:

The Child Development Lab (CDL) will remain open, as the University is remaining open at this time. However, since UW students are being encouraged not to return to campus after Spring Break, we are anticipating a staffing shortage. Starting Monday, March 23, the CDL’s hours of operation will be reduced to 8:30–4:00 during the weeks of UW online instruction. Teachers and staff will be spending an additional 30 minutes after closing to deep-clean toys and materials in order to reduce the spread of illness. We anticipate that we will return to normal operating hours on April 13, but will await the Chancellor’s update in early April to determine our plan moving forward.

2) Illness policy and attendance for staff, students, and children:

Everyone in the CDL community is required to stay home if they are exhibiting cold or flu-like symptoms.

This means that CDL teachers and student employees will be required to stay home if they are feeling ill. The CDL Administrative Team also reserves the right to send home any employee who is showing symptoms of cold or flu.

CDL Teachers:

  • Teachers will be asked to give the CDL administrative team as much notice as possible but no later than 6:30 a.m. the day of regarding illness leave so that arrangements can be made. Please group-text both Kristin and Jill to inform them of your impending absence.
  • Current sick leave policies apply. Telecommuting arrangements can be approved by your supervisor as appropriate.

Student employees:

  • Student employees should contact Kristin Orlowski and update “When to work” if they are too sick to come in.
  • During this pandemic, students should do their best to follow the CDL Employee Attendance Policy, but should stay home if they are feeling ill, even if they cannot find a substitute.
  • Student hourly workers are not eligible for paid sick time. Students experiencing financial hardship due to lost wages should visit the “What financial resources are available to students?” question listed in the FAQ section. Please note that this classification of employment is eligible to remain in the dorms but must contact Housing ASAP to submit a COVID-19 Accommodation Request (see instructions under “Exceptions”). 
  • The CDL Administrative Team is working with HDFS Instructors and SoHE’s Student and Academic Advising Team to determine how students will complete course requirementsoccurring in the CDL. More communication to follow.

Anticipated conditional policies:

Should we not have enough teachers to maintain state teacher:child ratios, we will contact parents to inform them that children will need to stay home that day. We will notify families by 7:30 a.m. or as soon as information is known, in order to give families as much advance notice as possible to make other arrangements for the day.

Should staff go home during the workday due to illness and substitutes not be available, parents will have one hour from the time they are contacted to come and pick up their child(ren) from school.

Should we not have enough teachers to provide care for all of the children enrolled in the CDL,priority will be given to children of parents deemed “essential UW personnel.” Please contact your supervisor immediately to get a letter stating that you are considered “essential personnel” so that we can be prepared for this situation. Please give copies of those letters to Administrative Assistant Mallory Hackel ASAP (or email them directly to

Children showing cold or flu-like symptoms will also be required to stay home.  The CDL will continue to follow the illness-based exclusion policy set forth in the Wisconsin Child Care Licensing Regulations. As always, please inform your child(ren)’s teachers of the reason for absence.

If a child falls ill while at the CDL, CDL policy for ill children will be observed. This entails: the ill child will be isolated from other children in a quiet area of the classroom or in an administrative reception area, but within sight and sound of a CDL staff member. Staff will contact the child’s parent/guardian to pick up the child within one hour. If the parent/guardian cannot be reached, staff will contact the alternate contact(s) of record to pick up the child. CDL staff will leave a message for the parent/guardian letting them know the alternate contact has picked up their child.

Please let the CDL administrative team know if you will be keeping your child(ren) home on any of the days from March 16–April 10 so we can account for this in our planning.

3) Travel Guidelines and Self-Isolation Requirements:

Everyone in the CDL community is required to follow the University’s travel guidelines during this time, including self-monitoring and self-isolation. As the incidence of COVID-19 continues to grow around the world  and within the US, the requirements of isolation also continue to change.

Please be aware that should you choose to travel to any level 2 or 3 areas or states with more than 10 cases, you will be required to self-isolate for up to 14 days upon return (depending on where you are traveling to, from, and through, even if you or your child are not showing symptoms). Continue to view the list of currently impacted areas that require a self-quarantine. Note that this list could change at any time, including while you are on your trip.

All families, students, and staff are required to report their travel dates and locations to the CDL administrative team as soon as possible so that attendance can be monitored and staffing plans adjusted.

4) CDL’s Reporting Requirements and Confidentiality:

CDL administrations must report exposure of anyone in the CDL community to the COVID-19 virus to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, Dane County Public Health, parents of currently enrolled children, and all other CDL community members. As always, the CDL will maintain confidentiality in this process.

5) Focus on Direct Care of Children:

Due to limited hours and staffing, teachers will not be undertaking any non-critical tasks, including sending out daily newsletters, meeting with parents (unless it is an emergency), taking daily planning time, meeting with students, responding to emails in a timely manner, or having any staff meetings during this time. We will be putting 100% of our focus on our direct care of children during this time.

6) Suspension of all Research, Teaching, & Outreach Activities:

The CDL will not be offering volunteer placements, tours, observers, UW student projects, or research during this timeframe. By early April, the Chancellor will inform the UW community whether classes will resume as usual after April 12. At that point, we will decide whether and how these non-essential activities will also resume. All non-essential campus events, including the CDL PTO Winter Party, will also be canceled.

7) Possible CDL Closure:

The CDL reserves the right to close and will follow the guidance of the University, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, and Dane County Public Health in making this decision and for determining conditions for reopening.

In the event that the CDL closes due to COVID-19, we will follow our pandemic closure policy that can be found on the back of your CDL contract. This policy states:

Parents are responsible for tuition payments for closings of a duration between a minimum of 1 and maximum of 10 consecutive business days for each occurrence. Should the center be closed for a period of over two weeks (10 consecutive business days), parent fees are due to the center for the first 10 consecutive business days, but parent fees are not due beyond the first 10 consecutive business days through the date the center reopens.

We are working with the Office of Campus Child Care and Family Resources, the City of Madison, and the School of Human Ecology to make a plan for families who receive child care tuition assistance, should the CDL close due to COVID-19. We will keep those families updated as soon as we have more information.

8) Communicating with the CDL So We Can Plan Ahead:

Again, please take time to ensure your contact information is up-to-date. Contact Mallory Hackel at if you need assistance with your login information. Please also complete the CDL COVID-19 Planning Survey that asks about attendance, travel, and essential personnel status (this is the same survey link featured at the top of this message).

9) Things You Can Do Now to Help Keep the CDL Community Healthy:

  • Stay home if you are ill and do not bring siblings who are ill to the CDL to drop off or pick up your child.
  • Please remember to wash your hands and your child’s hands upon entry into the classroom and when arriving in the classroom to pick your child up at the end of the day.
  • Continue to work with your children on proper methods for covering coughs and sneezes.

Continue to work with your children on using tissues to wipe runny noses and then washing hands again.

We recognize that some of your children are too young to do these things independently, but it is important for all of the adults to model these healthy behaviors right from the start.

We appreciate your cooperation, communication, and commitment to the health of everyone in the CDL community at this time. Please direct any remaining questions to Jill or Amy, and know that we will respond as soon as we are able. We will keep you informed of any changes or adjustments to this policy on our website, should we receive additional information from the University, the CDC, the Department of Public Health, or Wisconsin Child Care Licensing about how we should respond to the ever-evolving COVID-19 situation.

Your CDL Directors,
Jill Riley & Amy Wagner