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  • Writer's pictureChickadee Contributor

What is Maine Child Development Services (CDS)?

Updated: Jul 1, 2023


CDS or Child Development Services is a federal program that serves children with disabilities. If a parent, teacher, or caregiver believes a child may have any developmental needs, they can reach out to CDS for evaluation and support.


Through a network of regional sites, Maine CDS provides the standardization of special education rules, and federal and state regulations for children living in the state of Maine. The main goal of CDS is to provide early intervention and early childhood education. It is under the Department of Health and Human Services.

What Services Does CDS Provide?

The goal of CDS is to assess and provide assistance for children who require special education. This may include any physical, mental, or emotional needs.

Maine CDS has two branches:

  • Early intervention for ages birth through two years

  • Public education for ages three through five years

Each regional CDS site provides case management and direct instruction for families with children with disabilities. The staff will help arrange for local services that include early intervention and special education tailored to each child’s needs.


Is CDS Only for Disabled Kids?

No! It's a common misconception that reaching out to CDS for services is only for children with severe disabilities. There is a wide range of developmental needs that can be supported by the offices of Child Development Services.


Some examples of development that CDS can help with include:

  • Speech therapy for delayed speech, improved comprehension or expression

  • Occupational therapy for sensory and movement exploration

  • Behavioral therapy for addressing aggression, meltdowns, outbursts

  • Physically therapy for movement limitations or concerns

  • Art therapy for addressing loss, grief, sadness, or big changes

Is My Child Meeting Developmental Signs?

Most often a pediatrician or daycare teacher will notice when a child isn’t meeting developmental milestones. All children are different, and some may be slightly behind or ahead of major milestones, without any major concern.

The following is a list of examples of signs there may be an intellectual or developmental disability. If your child checks any of these, it may be time to reach out to your pediatrician or submit a referral to CDS:

  • Sitting up, crawling, or walking later than other children of similar age

  • Learning to talk later or having difficulty speaking

  • Finding it hard to remember things

  • Having trouble understanding the rules of social behavior

  • Having difficulty "seeing" or understanding the outcomes of actions

  • Having trouble solving problems

If you are curious where your child falls in terms of their age-appropriate development, here is a full list of developmental milestones by age, as noted by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).


How to Submit a CDS Referral

If you believe your child (or a child who you provide care for) would benefit from CDS support and services, the first thing to do is submit a referral. Once the program receives this, they will reach out to the child’s parents for a high-level phone evaluation. Broad strokes questions will be asked to assess the child’s development and overall ability.

If the child is deemed eligible for CDS services, the referral becomes a case. The child is evaluated in person and then local support services are provided based on the disability and need.

Maine CDS accepts online referrals only. Please see the list of information you need to make a CDS referral.

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