At the University of Notre Dame’s William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families, we conduct innovative research to understand and support healthy development across the lifespan. Our affiliated faculty, staff, and students lead projects related to our primary research themes:

Our affiliated faculty and students are from the departments of psychology, anthropology, sociology, and other units within the University.

The Shaw Center facilitates research by providing shared laboratory space as well as staff assistance for grant-writing, management, and participant recruitment.

We offer hands-on research experiences for students through laboratory courses as well as a summer internship program. We also encourage students’ independent research by providing the same types of resources provided to faculty. We also host the Department of Psychology's Child and Family Therapy Clinic which offers critical training for our clinical doctoral students.

Our work conducting rigorous research and educating students aligns with the mission of the University. Our research themes cohere with the Church’s social doctrine related to human dignity and the recognition of the importance of family life.

We are located within the community of South Bend, IN. We also have a satellite research center in Fort Wayne, IN. We strive to develop mutually beneficial relationships within our surrounding communities in which we learn from each other. We learn from our community partners, as well as our research participants, how to support families and respect their diversity and strengths. 

The projects emanating from the Shaw Center are making an impact, not only in the intellectual community, but also in the lives of the participants who have been helped through our intervention projects. We plan to continue to grow as a research center, attracting scholars and students from a variety of disciplines whose work focuses on understanding and improving the lives of children and families.

Shaw Team Photo


The William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families is directed by Kristin Valentino, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology. Professors John Borkowski and Mark Cummings established The Center for Children and Families in 2001. The Center originally served as an off-campus research facility for their externally funded research projects. 

Julie Braungart-Rieker served as the director from 2008–2019. During this time, the Center was endowed with a generous gift by William J. Shaw. This gift expanded support for core and faculty affiliates and enhanced the research opportunities available to students.  Since 2019, Dr. Kristin Valentio has served as the current director of the William J Shaw Center.

Since 2008, our faculty have been competitively awarded more than $17 million from federal funding agencies and foundations.

Many of our studies have been collaborative, multi-site projects, involving other institutions such as the University of California – Davis, University of Kansas, University of Rochester, University of Minnesota, and Auburn University. Some of the work is also being conducted internationally, involving colleagues in Northern Ireland, South America, Israel, and Palestine.


The William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families welcomes your support in any number of ways. We value the time, talent, and treasure of our graduates and friends and welcome collaborative efforts to further our work. Make a gift here or connect with the department about other ways to get involved.