Introducing the CDAS!

The Child Development Assessment Scale (CDAS) is a screening tool that can be used in case of doubt to assess children 0 to 5 years old for cognitive, motor, or social-emotional delays. The tool is user-friendly, easily administered, accurate, and easy to interpret. The CDAS has also been scientifically validated. It is offered and distributed by the Centre de liaison sur l’intervention et la prévention psychosociales (CLIPP).

The CDAS is first administered to the child to validate a practitioner’s observations and to identify any potential developmental delays. In turn, the results will indicate whether a health professional should be consulted. The results also help improve interventions with the child by objectively revealing specific strengths or difficulties.

The CDAS allows for objective assessment that is primarily based on specific tasks the child must perform, as opposed to subjective observations or perceptions by a practitioner or parent.

The CDAS comes in the form of a kit complete with a user guide, a vignette booklet, and a USB drive containing scoring checklists, a correction tool, and report templates to present the child’s results. The kit also contains all the materials required to administer the CDAS.

Can the CDAS be helpful to you?

The CDAS can be used by anyone who works with children aged 0 to 6 years less a day.

The French and English versions of the CDAS are currently in use throughout all regions of Quebec, as well as in certain parts of France, Switzerland, and Belgium.

The CDAS is mainly used in the following settings:

  • Centres Intégrés de Santé et de Services Sociaux (CISSS) and Centres Intégrés Universitaires de Santé et de Services Sociaux (CIUSSS), including Centres Jeunesse (child and youth protection centers) and CLSCs (local community services centers).
  • Childcare settings, including coordinating offices, early childhood centers, and home day cares
  • Hospital and rehabilitation centers
  • School boards
  • Community organizations
  • Private practices

How to use the CDAS

The CDAS requires 15 to 45 minutes to administer, depending on the age of the child. The results allow the user to situate the child’s cognitive, language, motor, and social-emotional development using a validated and standardized scale presented in the form of a thermometer. Results in the comfort zone (blue) indicate normal development. Results in the to be monitored zone (grey) suggest that interventions with the child should be adapted according to identified difficulties, and that the child should be reassessed at a later date. Finally, results in the referral zone (red) indicate that the child should be referred to a health professional who will be able to perform a more exhaustive developmental assessment.

The individual results for each of these developmental dimensions are generated using the correction tool.

The CDAS can best be understood as a thermometer that is able to indicate whether a child has a fever, but not whether it is due to a virus or an infection. If the fever is too high or lasts too long, a doctor must be consulted. Like a thermometer, the CDAS is not a diagnostic instrument, but rather a screening tool that indicates developmental delays in one dimension or another without identifying the cause.

Correction tool

The CDAS correction tool allows the user to generate results once the assessment has been administered to the child.

The CDAS: a scientifically validated tool

The CDAS has been scientifically validated using a sample of more than 600 children and has very good psychometric properties that make it both precise and accurate.

A standardization study has also been carried out for the CDAS using a sample of almost 1,000 children. The study allowed for the definition of upper and lower limits and cutoff scores for each zone (comfort, to be monitored, and referral), and ensured that the results generated by the correction tool would properly reflect the child’s development.

The CDAS was validated and standardized in collaboration with:

  • Le Centre jeunesse de Montréal
  • Day care services
  • Community organizations
  • Primary schools
  • Local community services centers
  • La Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon

For more information, see the CDAS study overview and standardization study.

The story of the CDAS at a glance

The need for an assessment tool such as the CDAS was first expressed by practitioners and managers at the Centre Jeunesse Montréal – Institut universitaire, who were looking for a tool they could use to assess compromised development in children and to guide intervention plans depending on observed difficulties.

To meet this need, the research team of the Laboratoire d’Étude du Nourrisson (LEN) at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and the Université de Montréal (UdeM) undertook research in the spring of 1998. The members of the team were Andrée Pomerleau, Nathalie Vézina, Jacques Moreau, Gérard Malcuit, and Renée Séguin.

Their first step was to verify the existence of a tool that would meet the following criteria:

  • Easy to administer
  • Easy to interpret
  • Quickly administered to children
  • Accessible to professionals who work with young children
  • Inexpensive
  • Sound, thanks to good psychometric properties

When the search for such a tool proved unsuccessful, the researchers decided to create a new tool that would meet the needs identified by practitioners.

Development of the tool was completed seven years later, in 2005. At this time, the researchers presented the Centre de liaison sur l’intervention et la prévention psychosociales (CLIPP) with a box containing all of the materials needed to administer the assessment, along with the literature on its scientific validation. This box would become the kit that is offered today, thanks to the collaboration of the CLIPP, which oversaw the standardization of the CDAS and the graphic design for various items such as the user guide and vignette booklet. Today, the CLIPP is responsible for distributing the CDAS and ensuring its continued validity. It also provides support to practitioners who use the tool, both in terms of administering the assessment and analyzing its results.

The CDAS is currently in use in Canada and in Europe. The English version of the tool has been available since March 2014.

A word about the CLIPP

a knowledge transfer and mobilization organization

The CLIPP works in collaboration with practitioners and researchers in order to allow other user communities to benefit from novel practices or research findings.

Its mission is to make available the knowledge originating from research and practice communities in order to increase the utilization of such knowledge, to improve decision-making and practices, and to foster social innovation initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life of individuals and communities.

For more information, visit or Facebook!

To place an order

The CDAS kit is available for $300.

The kit can be ordered online on the CLIPP website.

All materials contained in the kit have been specifically selected and validated by the creators of the CDAS. In case of any losses or damage, it is important to replace kit items with original materials by placing an online order on the CLIPP website.

Replacement materials:

  • Caillou (bath book): $10.80
  • “A Beautiful Day” book: $15.60
  • Rattle: $10.80
  • Ball: $6.00
  • Cup: $8.40
  • Scissors: $6.00
  • Geometric shapes: $12.00
  • Chips: $3.60
  • Cubes (12): $7.20
  • User guide: $63.60
  • Vignette booklet: $80.40
  • Carrying case: $32.40
  • Measuring tape: $4.80
  • USB drive: $72.00
  • Cardboard thermometer (without scores): $5.40