In the 1990s, a small group of Duke faculty members with an interest in child development research began meeting to discuss how to have a greater impact on society. The group represented diverse disciplines, and included John Coie (psychology), Phil Costanzo (psychology), Phil Cook (public policy and economics), Jane Costello (psychiatry), and Alan Kerckhoff (sociology), among others. They approached William Chafe, then dean of the faculty of Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, who had the vision and financial resources to pursue a new venture devoted to child policy.

After an external search, Kenneth Dodge, a clinical and developmental psychologist from Vanderbilt who had earned his Ph.D. at Duke in 1978, was hired in 1998 to lead the new effort.

The Center for Child and Family Policy officially opened on July 1, 1999, guided by Bill Chafe’s broad and bold charge: “Make a difference!” Today the Center does just that, with more than $7 million in yearly grant funding, 70 employees and more than 40 affiliated faculty fellows. Faculty and staff work together to discover and evaluate strategies for improving children’s lives, and to share their discoveries with policymakers and public agencies.

Read more about the Center’s history, our blueprint for success, and our integrated system of research, teaching, policy engagement and service in the booklet “Making a Difference: The First 10 Years.”