Our Mission

The Child Development Lab (CDL) is a preschool housed within the School of Human Ecology, specifically affiliated with the Human Development and Family Studies department. We serve as an integral part of the teaching, research, and service mission of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a preschool, we provide high-quality programming for children aged 6 weeks to 5 years of age. As a laboratory, our school is designed to provide a population and a setting for the study of children and families. The CDL’s trifold mission is grounded in Research, Teaching, and Outreach.

CDL Research


Faculty and students conduct research in the CDL related to child development and learning, family development, childcare and other related topics. We require that all research conducted at the CDL is approved by the IRB, CDL Faculty Director, CDL Executive Director, and Program Director.

CDL Teaching


Undergraduate students and interns are regularly placed at the CDL for internships, student teaching, or practical experience related to their course of study. University students enrolled in child development or education courses may be assigned to observe children in conjunction with class assignments. Our student observers are required to follow strict protocols and guidelines.

CDL Outreach


The CDL integrates best teaching practice and current research findings to provide the highest quality early care and education programs possible. We aim to not only serve as a model program, but to intentionally share the knowledge we gain with families, teachers, researchers, and the general public through a variety of outreach activities.

School of Human Ecology UW Madison Child Development Lab