About Us


Red Caboose fosters a sense of community among children, their families, and staff, with a commitment to diversity and inclusion. We provide excellent education, nutrition, and play-based learning for children in a nurturing, safe environment emphasizing healthy social-emotional development.


Red Caboose is the oldest independent child care center in Madison. Red Caboose was founded by a group of parents as a nonprofit child care center in 1972. In 1998 the University of Wisconsin Press published a book about Red Caboose, The Good-Bye Window. Since those early days, Red Caboose has expanded to meet the needs of families with school-age children through quality after school and summer camp programs.

Core Values

We are committed to providing a safe and loving environment. Our programs are licensed by the state of Wisconsin and accredited by the city of Madison.

Parent involvement has always been an integral part of the center; parents are a majority on the Board of Directors, and are involved through committees as well as in the day-to-day program. There is a lot of staff participation in the management as well. We have a dedicated and talented group of people working at Red Caboose, two-thirds of whom have been here for twenty years or more.

Red Caboose has a strong tradition of serving all children, including those with special educational, emotional, and physical needs and handicaps.  We have a sliding-fee schedule for tuition, based on family size and income: families who can afford to pay more help defray the cost of care for those who earn less.

Red Caboose families are a diverse group in terms of race, ethnicity, income, and family type.  Over 20% qualify for free or reduced meals through the Federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).  We have several families with adoptive or foster children, as well as other “non-traditional” families.  In addition, our school age programs include children who are homeless or living in transitional housing.

The main emphasis in our program is on the social and emotional development of children.  The most important goal for the children in our care is that they feel safe, comfortable, nurtured and loved at Red Caboose.  We strive to help children learn that people are different, and that this is good.  We foster friendships and relationships among the children, and between the children and teachers.

We strongly believe in learning through play, with lots of hands-on and sensory experiences.  We provide a rich environment with many opportunities for children to experience materials and activities in all areas (dramatic play, dance/art/music, early literacy and math, science, motor coordination).  We have a balance of child-initiated play and teacher-directed activities. We provide many opportunities for children to make choices.

Language development is a big part of the curriculum in our two toddler rooms; problem solving and non-violent conflict resolution are a critical part of our pre-school and pre-kindergarten classrooms.  Helping children identify feelings and thoughts, and talk to and listen to other people is very important.  Self-help skills and responsibility, critical thinking, and making decisions are emphasized.

Play and active learning for children, a safe and loving environment, a diverse group of families, caring and educated teachers with long-term commitment to Red Caboose, and strong parent involvement and communication – this is what quality child care means at Red Caboose.


Jason Anderson, Executive Director 

Lisa Fiala, Project Administrator

Crystal Ranson, Preschool Program Director

Laura Rogers, School Age Program Director 

Kim Owens, Billing Coordinator

Savannah Stutzman, School Age Enrollment Coordinator

Leah Lange, Numbers 4 Nonprofits, Accountant

Barbara Wright, Nutritional Coordinator

Chuck Michaels, Custodian

Board of Directors

Red Caboose Boardgeneral contact

  • Aaron Stephenson, President
  • Cindy Gillis, Vice President
  • Jenn Ebbott, Treasurer
  • Bridget St. Peter, Secretary
  • Colin Stroud
  • Andrea Suarez
  • Kathleen Gilbertson
  • Cheryl Heiman
  • Jason Anderson, Non-Voting Member
  • Crystal Ranson, Non-Voting Member
  • Laura Rogers, Non-Voting Member