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Child Progress Determination
Questions to Guide the Discussion of Functional Indicators

I: Positive Social-Emotional Development / Positive Social Relationships

  • How does the child communicate her/his feelings?
  • How does the child interact with parents?
  • How does the child interact with siblings?
  • How does the child interact with known adults / strangers?
  • How does the child interact with children?

Consider progression of social development

Smiles – holds out arms to be picked up - likes to look at faces – laughs aloud - distinguishes strangers – parallel play – interest in other kids – associative play

Consider relationship with primary caregivers

Soothed by caregiver - varying cries – reliance on primary caregiver – stranger anxiety (1 st or 2 nd)  

II: Acquires and Uses New Knowledge and Skills

  • How does the child learn?

Consider progression of how children learn about their environment

Mouths toys – eyes explore toys – hands explore toys – child interacts with the toys to produce noise – books / pointing to pictures – points and indicates “what’s that” question – imitation – how does the child use words to learn

Consider progression and complexity of imitation

How willing is the child to imitate; do you see the child acting out everyday events in their own play? Level of imitation in using words.

III: Ability to Take Actions to Get Needs Met

  • How does child let caregiver know what she/he wants?
  • How does child get to his/her toys?
  • What does the child do to participate in her/his own care?

Consider motor skills

How does child get to toys – rolls, crawls, walks, climbs, runs

How does child use hands to manipulate toys & food – raking, pincer grasp

Consider self-help skills to take care of her/himself

Dressing – helps with dressing, takes off some clothes, attempts/puts on some clothes
Toileting – tells when wet/soiled, attempts to use the toilet
Feeding – finger feeding, spoon dexterity

Consider communication skills

How does the child tell the caregiver when she/he is hungry, thirsty, needs new diaper?
Are words replacing grunts, tantrums, pointing motions?

Decision Tree for Summary Rating Discussions

Decision Tree with Prompts for Summary Rating Discussions

Sample “Script” for Introduction of the System for Determination of Child Progress

“During this initial evaluation and IFSP process we will be assessing how your child functions in his/her everyday life at home and other settings that are typical to your family and child’s routine. We will be using the _________, a developmental assessment tool that looks at your child’s abilities in the areas of Gross Motor (large muscles and mobility), Fine Motor (small muscles), Self Help (feeding, toileting and dressing), Cognitive skills (problem solving and learning skills), Expressive and Receptive Language (how your baby communicates and understands language), and Social-Emotional development (how your baby interacts with the people in his/her environment). Additionally, in conjunction with recent federal guidelines, we will be determining how your child functions in three specific areas as compared to his/her same age peers. These areas were chosen because they were reported by families to be most important. We will report back to you your child’s strengths and upcoming skills from the assessment, in these three functional areas. We are doing this in an effort to determine the effectiveness of Part C services in helping you and your child to meet your outcomes. We’ll review this (annually* and) at the time your child is ready to leave the Infant & Toddler Connection of __________ to see what progress your child has made during his/her time in early intervention.

You are the experts on your child and your input will be the most valuable component of the evaluation as you participate in this process by describing how your child interacts with others in his/her environment, how he/she learns/acquires skills and knowledge, and how he/she gets his/her needs met. (This is a new system for us and we ask your understanding as we may be awkward at first as we complete this process together.”)**

* For local systems who are doing interim assessments/ratings

** This may be helpful initially until evaluators become more familiar with the process

“Script” for Team Discussion of Outcomes Rating

The following text provides guidance for discussing a child’s functioning that:

  • gets the information needed for a rating determination without using numbers,
  • is based on the child’s strengths,
  • uses a tone that is family-friendly.

It was designed for training teams in the use of the Child Outcomes Summary Form (COSF), especially with families at the table during the rating discussion

Discussing the Outcomes

Discuss the outcome areas one at a time, although not necessarily in any particular order. The suggestions in this document focus on Outcome 1: positive social relationships. Use the same format for Outcomes 2 (acquisition and use of knowledge and skills) and 3 (taking action to meet needs), substituting words to reflect the content of each outcome, as appropriate. Refer to the “COSF Discussion Prompts” resource for suggested questions and language to use for the discussion of all three outcome areas.

Begin the discussion as follows, filling in the child’s name and the content appropriate to the outcome area (as noted above, these examples illustrate Outcome 1).

  • One of the important things we want ___to learn is how to get along well with the people in his/ her life. Let’s talk about how ___ is doing in social relationships. We want to talk about how ___ interacts with adults and with other children. We also want to look at how s/he follows rules and participates in routines with groups.
  • Who are the adults in ___’s life?
  • Is s/he around other children? [Who?]
  • [if child is old enough] Is s/he in situations where she/he is expected to participate in routines with others or to follow rules related to being with others?


  • Let’s start by talking about _____’s strengths in this area. What are some of ____’s strengths in social relationships and getting along with others? For example,
    • What are the things that ___does well when it comes to relating to adults? (See COSF Discussion Prompts)
    • What are some of his/her strengths in relating to other children?
    • What are some of his/her strengths when it comes to following rules or routines?

Areas of concern

  • What are some of the things we are concerned about/would like to work on with ___ in the area of social relationships? For example,
    • What are the things that we are concerned about with regard to how ____ relates to adults? (COSF Discussion Prompts)
    • What are some of our concerns with regard to how ____ relates to other children?
    • What are some of our concerns with regard to how ____ follows rules or routines?


  • We know that as children develop they learn to do different things at different ages. Some of the things we would like to see children doing in this area at ___[child’s age] are”……
  • Looking for age appropriate functioning
  • Is ___ doing any of the things related to social relationships that we expect to see at his/her age?
  • Possible answers:
    • Yes, he is doing ____
    • No, not yet.

Extent of age appropriate functioning

  • [if yes] Would we say that all or almost all of ____’s functioning for this outcome is what we would expect to see for a child this age?
    • [if yes] ___ is doing really well in this area. Is there any thing related to how ___ interacts with others that we are concerned about and that we think we should monitor or give him some help with?
      • If no. This means we want to say his development in this area is “completely” what we expect for a child this age.
      • If yes. This means we want to say his development in this area is “between completely and somewhat” for what we expect of a child this age.
    • [If no] Would we say that ____ rarely shows examples of what we expect to see for children this age or that she/he shows a solid mix of functioning that is age appropriate and not age appropriate yet?
      • If a solid mix. This means we will say that his development in this area is “somewhat” age appropriate.
      • If rarely. This means we will say that his development is between “emerging and somewhat”.

Looking for immediate foundational skills

  • [if not yet] Just before children learn to _____[age expected functioning], they _____[immediate foundational skills]?
  • Is ___ doing anything related to social relationships at this level?
  • Possible answers:
    • Yes, he is doing ____
    • No, not yet. This tells us we need to work with ____to help him/her develop some skills such as [immediate foundational skills] to help him improve in this area. Since _____ hasn’t yet developed what we call immediate foundational skills, we will code his development in this outcome as “Not Yet.”

Extent of immediate foundational skills

  • [if yes] Would we say that just about most or all of ____’s functioning in this area is showing the kind of skills that develop just before what children do at this age?
    • [if yes] That helps us know where ___ is functioning so we can work with the skills he/she has and help him/her move to the next step. It means the rating should be “Emerging.”.
    • [If no] That helps us know where ___ is functioning so we can work with the skills he/she has so we can help him/her move to the next step and suggests the rating should be between “Not Yet” and “Emerging.”
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