Our mission is to advance learning and health outcomes for all children in research, resource development, clinical programs, and service delivery.
The Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (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 Susan H. Landry, PhD, 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.
CLI started in 1996 as the Department of Developmental Pediatrics, housed within UTHealth’s medical school, with a staff of 25 people. 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 new institute also encompassed clinical practices for children with suspected or diagnosed developmental delays or disabilities, services still offered today through CLI’s clinical programs.
The cornerstone of CLI’s work is 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, CLI now includes almost 300 research, clinical, and educational staff members who are critical in our efforts to support our mission.
Research conducted by the Children’s Learning Institute serves as the foundation of all our programs and initiatives. We are currently working on multiple research grants and contracts, 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 are 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.
In 2003, Texas Governor Rick Perry designated CLI 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. We continue to foster partnerships with numerous local and regional organizations to better the educational development of at-risk children throughout the state.
Additionally, CLI’s state initiatives in early childhood education, assessments, and classroom tools are targeted to support the state’s at-risk populations, including Texas School Ready, TPRI reading assessments, CIRCLE Pre-K Curriculum, Texas Kindergarten Entry Assessment, and more. All of CLI’s innovative educational materials, from birth through high school graduation, are founded on evidence-based learning approaches, and many are available at no cost through our online platform CLI Engage.
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.
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.
CLI is home to the Dan L Duncan Children’s Neurodevelopmental Clinic and the UT Physicians Pediatric Center for Autism and Related Conditions, as well as outreach intervention and tutoring services, within the greater Houston community.
Our clinics are staffed by experts in the fields of child development, education, medicine, neurodevelopment, and research analysis.
Funded by the Dan L Duncan family, the Dan L Duncan Children’s Neurodevelopmental Clinic and the UT Physicians Pediatric Center for Autism and Related Conditions 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.
Experts from the Duncan Clinic have expanded their influence into the community through partnerships with Texas school districts. Through intensive reading intervention tutoring through CLI’s AERO Tutoring Program, clinic specialists offer services to assist those students most at risk for falling behind. Year after year, early intervention has been proven effective for students. Through the summer programs, Duncan tutors impact even more young students, helping them achieve their full potential.
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.