Eligibility and referrals

The Child Development Service provides free assessment and intervention services to eligible children with developmental delay or difficulty, living in the Perth Metropolitan Area.

CDS accepts referrals for children with developmental delays or difficulties who meet all of the following eligibility criteria: 

  • the child must be under the age of 16 years
  • have an eligible Medicare card/number (clients with yellow Medicare cards are ineligible)
  • live at an address in the Perth Metropolitan Area

To check if the child lives in the Perth Metropolitan Area search for the suburb/postcode here.

Child development services for children living in regional areas are available from local community health centres through the WA Country Health Service.

Referrals not accepted

The Child Development Service does not provide:

  • mental health (only) services
  • general medical services
  • surgical or acute services
  • rehabilitation services
  • emergency/crisis services

Referrals for these concerns in the absence of developmental concerns will be declined.

Urgent care

If you require urgent care, refer to the services below:

A referral can be made by:

  • parents / legal guardians
  • professionals

All referrals require parent or legal guardian consent.

The most secure and efficient way to submit a referral is via our online referral form.

Supporting documents can be attached to the online referral form.

When you successfully submit an online referral form, you will receive a confirmation email.

Complete an online referral

Department of Education staff have reported issues with the ‘save and return’ function on the CDS Online Referral Form.

While we work to resolve the issue, we recommend that Department of Education staff either DO NOT use the save function, or if they need to save, that they complete the form from a device outside of the Education Department.

When completing an online referral form, you will need to provide the following information:

  • Child’s details (e.g. date of birth, address, Medicare number)
  • Parent/legal guardian’s details (e.g. name, address, email address, phone number)
  • Description of the concerns you have for the child’s development and details of the parent/guardian’s main concern
  • Child’s family and medical history
  • Any supporting documents (e.g. copies of reports from other health professionals)
  • Where applicable, the Child Protection Worker, Department of Communities contact details for cases where the Department of Communities is the child's legal guardian.

If you are unable to submit a completed online referral form, please contact us on 1300 551 827.

Additional information for education and health professionals

These optional checklists can be used by education and health professionals to provide additional information when referring children in the early years of schooling to the Child Development Service.

Checklists must be submitted with a completed referral form.

These checklists should be completed by a health or education professional with knowledge of a child obtained through direct observation over a period of time.


  • Provide as much information as possible about the developmental history and concerns on the referral form to allow us to ensure the child receives the CDS services they need. Describe the parent’s/guardian’s main concern and how it impacts on the child and family in their everyday life. Attach any relevant reports and information to support the referral.
  • If you are a professional making a referral (e.g. teacher, GP), please discuss your concerns with the family, and ensure that the parent/legal guardian understands the reason for and consents to the referral. Our services are voluntary, and parents/guardians need to be willing to engage with us.
  • Let us know if there is anything that may impact on a family’s ability to respond to appointment offers or attend appointments. This will help us to follow up with families who may need extra assistance to access our service.

When an online referral form is successfully submitted, a confirmation email is sent to the referrer.

All referrals are reviewed by our intake team, at which point parents/legal guardians will be notified if the referral has been accepted or if the referral is not suitable for our service.

The Child Development Service experiences a high demand for services, and depending on what service the child needs, the wait time can vary. For some services, appointments may be offered within a few months, whereas for other services there may be a lengthy wait. We understand that long waits are difficult for families, and we try to see families as soon as possible.

Additional information for parents/carers/guardians

You may like to consider the following while waiting for an appointment with us.

  • Discuss your concerns for your child with your GP, including any sleep, diet or mental health concerns.
    • A Mental Health Treatment Plan or Chronic Diseases Management Plan may help provide access to relevant allied health services.
    • Your GP can check your child’s vision, hearing, thyroid levels, iron levels and support you with any sleep issues.
  • Discuss any concerns about your child’s learning with your child’s school. School based student support services are best placed to review academic progress, cognitive and learning concerns. Talk to the child’s teacher for concerns about learning, behaviour, and attendance.
  • The Early Childhood Approach (ECA), funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), supports children under 9 years who have a disability, or children under 6 years who have a developmental delay or concern.
    • Wanslea is the early childhood partner that delivers the ECA in Perth.
    • If your child is under 6 years and you have significant concerns about their development, you may wish to consider applying for their services. A diagnosis is not required to access the ECA if your child is under 6 years.
  • The NDIS supports children 9 years and older with permanent and significant disability to access necessary services and supports.

Where else can parents/carers/guardians get help and information? 

There are a range of community, public and private services available to support children and families. 

Here are some suggestions:

The right services for your child explains some of the services available.

Families may leave our service because their child has made progress towards their goals or for a range of other reasons.

After families leave our service, they can always contact us again if they have further concerns for their child.

A new referral may be required if it is more than 12 months since the child was last seen.

A child may be discharged if a family does not respond to appointment offers and/or do not respond to our attempts to contact them.

It is important that families let us know if they change their contact details (e.g. phone number, address).

Last Updated: 17/05/2024