Our Mission

The Child Development Lab (CDL) is an early childhood development center 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 child care center, 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


Our goal as a laboratory is to support research that advances the field of child development. Faculty and students conduct research in the CDL related to child development and learning, childcare, family development, and other related topics. We require that all research conducted at the CDL is approved by the CDL Faculty Director, Executive Director, Program Director, Teaching & Research Coordinator, and UW IRB.

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CDL Teaching


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

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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.

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School of Human Ecology UW Madison Child Development Lab