Child Development

All children deserve to reach their full potential. Early intervention makes that possible.

The Department of Early Childhood offers free developmental screenings. Early intervention services are available to children who need them.

What is a developmental screening? A developmental screening can help you make sure your child is getting what they need. Screenings look at how a child moves, plays, talks, and interacts at different ages. They can tell you if your child’s development is on track. 

Identifying developmental delays and getting extra help as soon as a delay is identified is important. It can make a big difference for your child.

How to Get a Developmental Screening

The Department of Early Childhood offers free developmental screenings and early intervention services through its Screening and Inclusion Team and Support for Families. There are three different ways to get a free developmental screening in San Francisco.

At your pediatrician’s office

In San Francisco, pediatricians screen children birth to age 3. Your pediatrician can also answer any questions you have about your child’s development, and connect you with the Department of Early Childhood if you need more support. Ask your pediatrician about getting a developmental screening.

At your child care program

The Department of Early Childhood helps all city-funded child care programs screen children ages 3-5. We also help make sure children’s development is being supported in the classroom. Ask your child’s teacher or provider if they screen your child.

Through the Department of Early Childhood

If your child hasn’t received a developmental screening from your pediatrician or child care program and you have any concerns about your child’s development, contact Support for Families at to get a free screening and support from DEC.

What Happens After a Developmental Screening?

All children develop at their own pace–every child is different! But a developmental screening can tell you if there’s anything to be concerned about. If there is, you’ll have access to services to help.

Whether your child was screened by a pediatrician or child care program, they should connect you to Support for Families. If not, you can contact Support for Families yourself at

Support for Families can provide referrals to services to support your child’s development. The Department of Early Childhood then acts as a liaison to make sure all the adults in your child’s life are sharing information and collaborating to help your child. 

More About Developmental Milestones

Developmental milestones tell you how most children move, play, talk, and interact at specific ages. All children develop at their own pace, but milestones can help you know if your child is on track for his or her age. This list shows you some examples of different milestones.

By 3 Months

By 6 Months

By 9 Months

By 18 Months

By 2 Years

By 3 Years

By 4 Years

These are just a few of many important milestones to look for. For more complete checklists by age, visit