The Child Development Center

Welcome to the Child Development Center (CDC) Laboratory School! ENMU's Child Development Center has a proud history of serving as a laboratory school since 1949. The original program enrolled 16 children ages 2-6 and was open from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday. In 1972, the current CDC facility was constructed with the open classrooms and curriculum modeled after the Infants Schools in England. Today, the CDC enrolls 36 children, 3-5 years old within two classrooms. The facility is located on the ENMU Portales Campus at the corner of U.S. Highway 70 and South Avenue N. The program operates in the fall, spring and summer terms, Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. until 5 p.m. The center observes the holidays and semester breaks observed by ENMU students.


The mission of the ENMU-Portales Child Development Center is to provide an excellent early childhood education experience for young children based on current research considering children's intellectual, linguistic, creative, physical, and social/emotional development. The program seeks to support families in their roles and to encourage family involvement in the program. 
As an integral part of the University mission, the program provides a high quality training facility with the opportunity for observation and laboratory experiences for college students and a research facility for the study of child development.  Students, classes and groups interested in conducting research or observing at the CDC may contact the CDC director for more information.
The facility uses sound financial management principles in providing a program to meet campus and community needs for safe, high quality, affordable child care. The program meets or exceeds requirements for all agencies that monitor, or accredit child care programs.
The Child Development Center and Laboratory School is focused meeting the needs of the children. Each child:

  • Is involved in a high quality inclusive environment
  • Receives intellectual, affective and sensory stimulation
  • Is given opportunities to learn to think independently, solve problems and gain information
  • Is given opportunities to succeed and develop a positive self-concept
  • Participates in an environment, which is responsive to his/her needs, interests, and developmental stage (physically, emotionally, socially and cognitively)
  • Has the opportunity to appreciate his/her own culture and language along with the cultures and languages of others
  • Have many opportunities to interact on a positive, non-competitive basis with peers and adults
  • Has an opportunity for development of foundational skills in language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, fine arts and physical education


Children are offered enrollment on a "first come, first served" basis. Enrollment is open to all 3-, 4- and 5-year-old children who are toilet trained. Children who are enrolled are allowed to continue in the program until they are kindergarten age eligible (5 years old by Sept. 1).

Waitlist applications can be filled out online or a form can be requested by emailing the CDC director (link below). Once the waitlist application is received, the child's name is entered and prioritized. Waitlist applications are taken at any time even for children that are not age eligible yet, but will be in the future. The fall and summer enrollment lists are determined during the previous spring. As enrollment openings occur, families will be notified regarding the enrollment options.

Children are enrolled on a five-day per week schedule. Staggered or part-time schedules such as Monday, Wednesday and Friday or half-days are not allowed unless the family agrees to pay the full-time semester rate.

Family Involvement

Family involvement is vitally important to the success of any early childhood program. To stay in contact with families, we offer written and electronic contact, family meetings and family night activities. The master teachers meet individually with families to discuss a child's progress at a minimum of once per semester. Families are invited to participate in the classroom as volunteers. Volunteers may be involved on a regular basis or may participate as special visitors. Families also participate in special activities including field trips and celebrations.

The center has an observation room that is open at all times to families so that they may observe the program and their child. The observation room is also open to selected classes and visiting groups interested in early childhood education or child development. Video surveillance of the CDC is continuous and linked to the University Police Department, which provides an additional level of safety and security for children, families and staff.

Program Personnel

Personnel for the CDC include a director, two master teachers, a kitchen manager and student employees. The director runs the day-to-day operations and serves as an instructor in the department of Family and Consumer Sciences and Agriculture. The master teachers provide for the education of the children and have specialized training in early childhood education. The master teacher's role includes developing curriculum, planning and directing the daily program activities, working with the children, and supervising laboratory students and student workers. The kitchen manager is responsible for the on-site production of safe and nutritious meals and snacks for the children in attendance. Student workers provide assistance for the master teachers and the kitchen manager to ensure the safety and well-being of the children, food service and facility.

CDC Personnel and Contact Information

If you have any questions about the program or enrollment, please contact the staff members listed below:

Elaine Gard, CDC Director, 575.562.2805
Jayme Craig, Master Teacher, 575.562.2525
Lara Vaughan, Master Teacher, 575.562.2806

Eric Harrold, Kitchen Manager, 575.562.2524