Activities Report

The UW Child Development Lab is committed to transparency about our program and providing progress updates on our research, teaching and outreach initiatives. This page provides program statistics, data highlights, featured projects, and stories about the CDL’s progress.

We welcome you explore below to learn more about how the CDL strives to be a model program for relationship-based teaching and research.

Toddler shaking Bucky Badger's hand

Catching Up

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the CDL was actively fulfilling our trifold mission of research, teaching, and outreach. We had built a great capacity to serve the community, university, and beyond with our team and resources. In 2019, the CDL was on track to host the most research and high-impact teaching opportunities on record. We also heavily focused on our outreach initiative, inviting dozens of early childhood educators to our school for professional development opportunities and even launching our own website.

In March 2020, a global pandemic changed everything and the CDL temporarily closed its doors.​ Over the past few years, the CDL was led into new, unexpected directions. The COVID-19 pandemic caused the CDL to close its doors to our families, undergraduate students, and researchers alike for various amounts of time. We are now fully reopened and expanding our research, teaching, and outreach activities. Despite extraordinary circumstances, we are proud to share the CDL’s story of resilience and ingenuity in the face of extraordinary circumstances and highlight our progress over the past 3 years.


The CDL closed due to Covid-19 from March 17th, 2020 to June 29th, 2020. During that time, CDL staff quickly pivoted to online opportunities to stay connected with families. Teachers held daily online activities for their students and utilized video discussion apps, such as FlipGrid, to keep in touch in creative ways.

Children wearing 2020 glasses wearing masksIn Summer 2020 the CDL began to reopen our program to families. In order to minimize exposure, our program decreased its hours of operation and teachers worked 9 hours per day. We also instated a series of protocols to keep our families and staff as safe as possible:
– All adults and children over the age of 2 years were required to wear a mask
– Parents dropped off their children at the door and were not allowed to enter classrooms
– Children completed daily health check-ins and staff completed daily health attestations
– Classrooms were staffed in pods to minimize crossover between cohorts of children
– Common spaces (i.e., the “neighborhoods”) were no longer used for indoor play
– The outdoor playgrounds were fenced off into sections to isolate classrooms
– Staff meetings, parent conferences, and music class were all moved to virtual formats
– Increased cleaning measures in all common areas and classrooms

Families returned over the course of a few months, and the CDL returned to a steady enrollment rate in Summer 2021. As of October 15th, 2022, the CDL has lifted its mask mandate and is fully re-opened to visitors, such as observers and researchers.

Should we talk about the child care staffing crisis and how that has affected operations? Perhaps Jill and Amy can weigh in here. For example, we could talk about the lingering effects that Covid-19 has had on exasperating the child care staffing crisis, which is why we currently only have 5 classrooms open.


Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the CDL was providing a vast amount of opportunities for undergraduate student teaching purposes. In Spring 2020, we had 54 in-classroom placements (e.g., interns, teaching assistants, course placements, volunteers). When our program unexpectedly closed our undergraduate student interns created and delivered lessons online to children via Zoom throughout Spring. In Summer 2020 when we re-opened to families, we did not place undergraduate students at the CDL due to concerns of increased Covid exposure. In Summer 2021, we invited undergraduate students back into the classroom for paid internship placements and paid hourly teaching assistantships.

Ribbon Cutting for Observation BoothsBeyond classroom placements, the CDL also prides itself in hosting teaching opportunities for undergraduate students in classes at UW-Madison via classroom observations. The CDL was perfectly positioned to pivot to virtual observations for students when Covid-19 hit. A few months before March 2020, the CDL was generously gifted a new, state-of-the-art camera system in several of our classrooms for observational purposes. The Teaching & Research Team used videos recorded from these cameras to launch a virtual observation booth, with dozens of video clips for instructors to use in courses related to child development. We broadened the reach of our virtual observation booth across campus and are now able to host more observations than ever before.



Prior to the onset of the pandemic, the CDL launched our own website, which you’re on now! This site allows us to keep our program information and policies up-to-date and accessible to our families. It also is a place to showcase our research and teaching amenities to prospective researchers and instructors. This site also importantly serves as a platform for dissemination of the work we do.

Amanda’s book (does anyone have a copy of this that I can take photos of?)

Taking Risks video developed by Emmi?

Program Data

Do we want this here?

Family Demographics

Family Affiliations


of CDL families are affiliated with UW-Madison in the 2021-22 academic year.

Family Funding


of CDL families received tuition assistance in the 2021-22 academic year.

For more information on CDL tuition assistance, please visit our Prospective Families page.