CSHS: Developmental Screening Program

The goal of Louisiana’s Developmental Screening program housed within Children’s Special Health Services is to improve early detection of developmental delays and disabilities in children from birth to 5 years of age by promoting the use of parent-report screening tools in pediatric primary care.  The Louisiana Developmental Screening Guidelines (LDSG) provide recommendations for screening periodicity and instruments that align with the Bright Futures guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Identifying developmental delays and disabilities as soon as possible allows for earlier provision of supports and services that can mitigate potential negative outcomes and allow children to thrive. The Developmental Screening program partners with a variety of other agencies and organizations to strengthen and expand Louisiana’s early childhood system.

To learn more about the importance of developmental screening and surveillance, please watch this short video from the American Academy of Pediatrics: Developmental Surveillance: What, Why and How

Who do we serve?

The Developmental Screening program is pleased to offer its services to professionals working with children between birth and 5 years of age. This includes physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, social workers, mental health professionals, counselors, early interventionists, educators, and therapists.

What are our functions?

The Developmental Screening program offers the following program activities and services:

1. Community and Provider Engagement

  • Customized Technical Assistance available for clinics and private practices to receive free, personalized training
  • “MCH Screening Connection” quarterly newsletter
  • Louisiana Developmental Screening Guidelines (LDSG) publicly available online

2. Health Education Tools and Resources

  • Educational programs offered through the LSU Human Development Center to health care professionals
  • Fact sheets, screening instruments, print-on-demand resources, mobile applications, and periodicity tables available for parent and provider use under the Louisiana Developmental Screening Guidelines
  • Webinar tutorials for each of the instruments recommended by the LDSG, created for use by providers and healthcare professionals
  • “Exceptional Lives” online portal with personalized guides and interactive resource maps linking families of children with developmental disabilities to services across the state

3. Surveillance and Monitoring

  • Self-report of developmental screening compliance via the CSHS Provider Survey
  • Identification of programming gaps via collaborative systems mapping
  • Development of screening and referral tracking system

4. Policy

  • Partnership with the Louisiana Young Child Wellness Collaborative to support and grow statewide efforts that improve developmental outcomes


What are the Louisiana Developmental Screening Guidelines? 

The Louisiana Developmental Screening Guidelines (LDSG) are a set of recommendations focused on comprehensive screening for children in Louisiana. These recommendations were developed through a workgroup comprised of various public health and community agencies who are invested in Maternal-Child Health priorities. The recommendations expand screening beyond developmental milestones and autism, are aligned with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)/Bright Futures recommendations, and include screening for social-emotional problems, environmental risk, and parental depression.


Where can I access resources and tools related to Developmental Screening?


We invite you to browse our Developmental Screening Resources page where you will find videos, tip sheets, access to screening tools, and a wealth of other materials and print-on-demand items:


LDSG Background Information

The guidelines were created to support pediatric and family medicine providers with tools to implement and build robust screening services at the practice level. The aim is to ensure that children who are ‘at risk’ will be promptly identified, referred for evaluation, and linked to early intervention therapies. Only parent-completed instruments were considered for the LDSG. Research confirms that parents are reliable sources of information about their children’s development. Utilizing an evidence-based screening tool that incorporates a parent report can help guide discussions between parents and providers about the child’s development and well-being. In addition, a parent report screener is more efficient and less burdensome for providers because it saves time in the practice setting.    

The LDSG recommended screening tools were selected based on:

  • the instrument's psychometric properties
  • the population used for its validation
  • tool literacy level
  • ease of administration
  • administration time
  • instrument cost 


What's included in the LDSG?

The Louisiana Developmental Screening Guidelines establishes an operationalized state definition for developmental screening, provides a short list of recommended screening tools across several domains, and proposes specific recurring intervals for when screenings should be performed at the practice level. A list of recommended tools carefully chosen by state content experts is included.