About Us
The Office of Child Development is a university-community partnership dedicated to improving the lives of children, youth, and families. Through interdisciplinary collaborations across research, practice, and policy, we strive to turn knowledge into action and respond creatively and collaboratively to challenges facing children in Pittsburgh and around the world.

Help Children in Squirrel Hill

Donate books today to help children affected by hate and gun violence in Squirrel Hill and surrounding areas process fear and embrace diversity

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Race Factors in Early Education

The Race and Early Childhood Collaborative was formed to assess if and how parents and teachers discuss race with young children, to determine what developmental issues exist as they relate to positive racial identity, and to generate recommendations and encourage collaborations around this important issue.

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Connecting Reading with Kindergarten Attendance

Ready Freddy partners with Public Allies Pittsburgh to improve kindergarten attendance. Since reading at grade level is key to academic success, Public Ally Joanna Kemp, assigned to Langley K-8, spearheaded a book drive that enabled each kindergartner to take home 5 books they could call their own.

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Forging New Leaders through the LEND Program

The LEND Center at the University of Pittsburgh partners with Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC to provide training that enhances the ability of clinicians to diagnose, treat, and manage disabilities in children and adolescents.

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The Power of Simplicity

The Simple Interactions (SI) approach is a process that empowers the people who work with children to engage in positive interactions.

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Aiding the Transition

OCD is evaluating and assisting the Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh as the association works with the Bhutanese population of Pittsburgh and moves to non-profit status.

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Homeless Young Children Webinar Resources

Young homeless children are experiencing their most critical stages of development right now. Click here for resources Ray Firth mentioned in the Littlest Residents Webinar on April 5, 2013.

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Heinz Endowments funds 8 for P.L.A.Y. project licensing!

Our very own Gloria Rodriguez-Ransom, Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist, is one of 8 trainees to become licensed in The P.L.A.Y. Project Model. The P.L.A.Y. Project is an intense intervention for families of children with Autism.

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Family Support Rally and Legislative Work Day

Family Support parents attend rally in Harrisburg and have individual meetings with 12 Allegheny County legislators who have centers in their districts.

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What's New
New Director Announcement: Shannon Wanless, PhD
Shannon B. Wanless, PhD has been named the Director of the Office of Child Development. Effective July 1, 2018, Wanless will take over for current Director, Christina Groark, Ph.D. who will retire in June. Robert McCall, Ph.D., past Co-Director, retired in January 2018.  Read full announcement here.

Beyond the Walls of Academe: Rewards and Challenges of Community Engagement
"30 Years of Lessons Learned at the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development" presented by Director Christina J. Groark, Ph.D. You can watch the full speech here

Kazakhstan Adoption Support Program
Our global reach has expanded to help with children being adopted through orphanages in Kazakhstan. 

Early Childhood Partnerships / HealthyCHILD
ECP and HC programs have expanded its local and regional reach. We are now working with the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center (COTRAIC) in additional counties in Southwestern PA and with select Pittsburgh Public School’s Kindergarten classrooms. Read on. 


Director of OCD, Christina Groark, PhD, weighs in on public schools, affordable housing, and child services in helping young families find their best place to live in PA. 

We have been selected as this year’s recipient of the Chancellor’s University Prize for Strategic, Inclusive and Diverse Excellence (UPSIDE Award). The award recognizes OCD for its long history of impactful work which furthers the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.   

Medina Jackson, Director of Engagement for the P.R.I.D.E. Program, is a recipient of the 2017 40 Under 40 Award.  Presented by Pittsburgh Magazine and PUMP, the award recognizes 40 individuals under the age of 40 whose creativity, vision, and passion enrich the Pittsburgh region. 

Recent Publications

the P.R.I.D.E. Program's Race Scan - Full Report

SPECS for Include Me program evaluation research on the Arc of Pennsylvania's Include Me teacher inclusion mentoring initiative throughout PA in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Education