Developmental Screening Initiative

The Louisiana Developmental Screening Initiative seeks to improve early detection of developmental delays and disabilities in children by promoting universal developmental screening in pediatric primary care for children ages 0-5 by promoting the use of 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 initiative partners with a variety of other agencies and organizations to strengthen and expand Louisiana’s early childhood system.

Developmental screening is also legally required by Louisiana Medicaid and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services through the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) Medicaid benefit (Section 1905(a)(29) of the Social Security Act). Medicaid managed care organizations are required to ensure that all children enrolled in their health plans receive the full spectrum of EPSDT services – including developmental screening, diagnostic assessments and treatments – in accordance with EPSDT Periodicity Guidelines. However, according to the developmental screening measure on Medicaid’s Child Core Set, only 19% of children enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP were screened for developmental delays at the doctor’s office within the past year (2017).

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 initiative offers 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 the Louisiana Developmental Screening Guidelines? 

The Louisiana Developmental Screening Guidelines (LDSG) are a set of recommendations focused on comprehensive screening for children in Louisiana. The guidelines establish an operationalized state definition for developmental screening, provide a short list of recommended screening tools across several domains, and propose specific recurring intervals for when screenings should be performed at the practice level. In alignment with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)/Bright Futures recommendations, the guidelines expand screening beyond developmental milestones and autism to include screening for social-emotional problems, environmental risk, and parental depression.

Browse our Developmental Screening Resources page where you will find videos, tip sheets, screening tools, and more:


Program Activities and Services


1. Provider and Patient Tools and Resources

  • Fact sheets, screening instruments, print-on-demand resources, mobile applications, and periodicity tables available for parent and provider use - find them here.
  • Customized Technical Assistance available for clinics and private practices to receive free, personalized training.
  • “MCH Screening Connection” quarterly newsletter - email Fiona Ritchey to be added to the mailing list.
  • Educational programs offered through the LSU Human Development Center to health care professionals.
  • 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.

2. 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.

3. Policy

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