The Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth is the preeminent resource for learning solutions that produce tested, proven, effective results through scientific research and evidence-based interventions.

Under the co-direction of April Crawford, PhD and Tricia Zucker, PhD, CLI combines data and studies from the fields of psychology, neurodevelopment, education, and child development to provide learning solutions derived from and supported by documented research. While several programs came together to form the Children's Learning Institute in 2003 by our founding director, nationally recognized early childhood expert Dr. Susan H. Landry, our research represents work that started in the 1980s. Drs. Crawford and Zucker assumed co-direction of CLI in September 2020. 

Our team includes approximately 300 experts in the fields of child development, education, medicine, neurodevelopment, research analysis, and more.

Today, the Children's Learning Institute provides clinical assessment, diagnoses and treats learning disorders, conducts cutting-edge research on techniques to enhance a child's home and learning environments, and develops multi-modal teaching, learning, and coaching platforms. From before birth through young adulthood, our programs and services impact children across Texas and the nation. 

CLI’s research and programs are supported by federal and state institutions that include the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Health, the US Department of Education, the Institute of Educational Science, Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Department of Defense, United States Army Medical Research, the Texas Education Agency, Texas Workforce Commission, private foundations and non-profit research institutes, and generous individuals. 

In 2016, we launched the CLI Solutions Group to deliver additional training and instructional tools to public and private programs, allowing us to better serve our stakeholders.

In 2021, CLI entered into an innovative partnership to establish an early childhood charter campus with Victoria Independent School District, the Children's Learning Institute Early Education Center at F.W. Gross. The charter school offers an opportunity to put what CLI has learned through our research and practice into full implementation by influencing all aspects of the learning environment and support for the community to positively impact children’s learning and school readiness. 



The Children's Learning Institute


The mission of the Children's Learning Institute is to advance learning and health outcomes for all children through public and private partnerships in research, resource development, clinical programs, and service delivery.

Our goal is to make sure all children reach optimal potential.


The Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) started in 1996 as the Department of Developmental Pediatrics with a staff of 25 people and was housed within the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. In 2003, The University of Texas Board of Regents formally combined two nationally recognized educational research centers that had grown within the department—the Center for Academic and Reading Skills and the Center for Improving the Readiness of Children for Learning and Education—and named the new organization the Children’s Learning Institute.

The cornerstone of CLI’s work has been to apply cutting-edge research in child development and education to improve learning in children.

Now, two decades later, we continue to grow and refine those efforts for the betterment of children.

Since our inception, our commitment to a holistic approach to the education, treatment, growth, and wellbeing of children is reflected in our more than 20 faculty members whose diverse areas of research and expertise include the fields of psychology, child development, education, medicine, neuroscience, and data analysis. In addition, the Institute now includes almost 300 research, clinical, and educational staff members who are critical in our efforts to support our mission.

Leaders in Research

Research performed at the Children’s Learning Institute serves as the foundation of all our programs and initiatives. We are currently working on more than 50 different research grants and contracts. These grants are funded through a combination of federal funding, state funding, and private donations.

Our faculty is recognized for advancing research in brain behavior, especially with children and adolescents who have learning differences.

Our faculty has been published extensively in noted professional journals related to child development, learning disabilities, neuroscience, psychology and developmental psychology.

The Children’s Learning Institute is internationally recognized for its scope of research from infancy through young adulthood. We collaborate with leading researchers throughout the world to ensure that we continue on the leading edge of research.

Leaders in Texas

In 2003, Texas Governor Rick Perry designated the Children’s Learning Institute as the Texas State Center for Early Childhood Development to encourage the expansion of our programs and initiatives as well as to focus, develop, and orchestrate the implementation of best practices in education on a statewide basis. This has led to partnerships with numerous local and regional organizations to better the educational development of at-risk children throughout the state.

Additionally, the Children’s Learning Institute has developed state initiatives in early childhood education and assessments targeted to the state’s at-risk populations, including Texas School Ready, TPRI reading assessments, CLI Engage online learning platform, the Texas Kindergarten Entry Assessment, and more. All of the Children’s Learning Institute's innovative educational materials, from birth through high school graduation, are founded on evidence-based learning approaches.

Informed by research, CLI's developmental experts continue to improve and create programs and materials on an ongoing basis to meet the ever present needs of our state’s changing population, the educators who guide and support them, and the administrators who lead them.

Leaders in Clinical Diagnosis, Treatment and Interventions

The Children’s Institute is home to three clinics as well as outreach intervention and tutoring services within the greater Houston community.

Funded by the Dan L Duncan family, the Center for Autism and Related Conditions and the Dan L Duncan Children’s Neurodevelopmental Clinic offer clinical assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of socio-emotional and learning disorders as well as ongoing, diverse cutting-edge research that ranges from techniques enhancing a child’s home and learning environment to recovery after traumatic brain injury. At the Neuropsychological Services for Neurological Conditions Clinic, both pediatric and adult patients with a variety of different neurological conditions that can affect brain function are screened in order to aid in diagnosis and treatment through neuropsychological testing.

All three clinics are staffed by experts in the fields of child development, education, medicine, neurodevelopment, and research analysis.

Experts from the Dan L Duncan Clinic have expanded their influence into the community through partnerships with area school districts. Through intensive reading and math intervention tutoring, clinic specialists offer services in both English and Spanish to assist those students most at risk for falling behind. Year after year, early intervention has been proven effective for students. Through the summer reading and math tutoring programs, Duncan tutors impact even more young students, helping them achieve their full potential.

Moving Forward

All members of the Children’s Learning Institute remain dedicated to our mission, and as we continue to grow as professionals, we remain intent on achieving our goal to make sure every child is equipped to learn and able to excel.

Our ongoing research efforts, development of new and innovative educational programs and initiatives, and clinical practices and programs continue to focus on the same reason for our founding decades ago: to apply cutting-edge research in child development and education to improve learning in children.

meet the team


CLI's work is accomplished through the dedication of our collaborative faculty and staff

  Our Faculty & Staff



Job Opportunities

Join our team! The Children's Learning Institute is part of McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). CLI job opportunities for faculty and staff are posted with UTHealth careers

Search for staff positions with "Children's Learning Institute" in the title or use keyword "CLI" for faculty positions.



CLI is currently recruiting two faculty positions. Applicants must apply using the provided links and should submit a CV and letter of interest to Dr. Tricia Zucker, Search Committee Chair, via Carrie Wolfenden at Carrie.Wolfenden@uth.tmc.edu.

Post Docs

The Postdoctoral Research Training Program is not currently accepting applications.