The origins of the Schubert Center for Child Studies are rooted in the Mental Development Center (MDC), an interdisciplinary clinical facility founded in 1959 at Case Western Reserve University for the evaluation and treatment of children with mental and developmental disabilities. Under the direction of Jane Kessler, PhD, Professor of Psychology, the MDC was the first university-based center for mental and developmental disabilities in the United States. Over the years, the MDC served hundreds of families in Northeast Ohio.

The MDC left the university in 1994 to become part of the Murtis H. Taylor Multi-Service Center, and the Schubert Center for Child Development was established and named for Cleveland philanthropists Leland and Helen Schubert to honor their tireless support of the MDC and of child welfare, social justice, and education. In 1997, the Schubert Center was designated as a unit of Case Western Reserve University's College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Donald Freedheim, Professor of Psychology and one of the original staff members of the MDC, was appointed as the first director.

A major goal of the Center was to facilitate links among basic research, applied research, and the community. During its first five years of operation, the Center fulfilled its mission through conferences, colloquia, participation in community projects, and by awarding grants to Case Western Reserve University faculty involved in child and adolescent research—see the Schubert Center’s Five-Year Report. The center also established a communications network among interested university and community members through an annual newsletter and development of a website.

Anthropology Professor Jill Korbin, PhD, and Sociology Professor Richard Settersten, PhD, became Co-Directors of the Center in 2001, and Dr. Korbin assumed full directorship in 2006. The Center was renamed as the “Schubert Center for Child Studies” and, with the launch of the Child Policy Initiative, has expanded its scope to bridge research, practice, policy, and education for the well-being of children and adolescents. In 2019, Psychology Professor Anastasia Dimitropoulos, PhD, became the current center director after serving as Research Director for the 2018-2019 year. Under the directorship of Molly Irwin, MPH, PhD, the Child Policy Initiative was initially supported by the George Gund Foundation (2004-2009) and the Cleveland Foundation (2004-2007), and is now a core component of the Schubert Center’s activities. In 2011, Gabriella Celeste, JD became the center’s Policy Director and oversees our current policy initiatives.

Currently, the Schubert Center for Child Studies is generously supported by the Schubert, Armington, Bondy, Brisky, Hamilton, Mann, and Wuliger Endowments. The current policy initiatives are funded by the George Gund Foundation (2019-2021). The Center is also part of a national consortium of university-based child policy centers. Dr. Jane Kessler and Dr. Donald Freedheim, both Professors Emeriti, continue to be involved with the activities of the Schubert Center.