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Early Development Index

Developed over the course of nearly 30 years, the EDI is a population-based measure of early child development and school readiness in five key domains: physical health, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, and communications skills and general knowledge. Through rigorous, international testing, the EDI has been found to be a reliable indicator of a child’s well-being that has been used to monitor populations of children over time; report on populations of children in different communities; predict how groups of children will do in elementary school; and, inform systems and policies concerning young children and their families.

Equitable Distribution of Resources

A condition for all children to achieve their full potential is a society where inclusion, diversity, and equity are a value and a priority, and policies and practices are put in place to address the structural barriers that perpetuate equity gaps and racism. When this condition is met, parents and families are put at the center and supported to co-create and advocate for solutions to the pressing issues facing them. First 5 Orange County prioritizes the county’s most vulnerable families to reduce disparities in access to equitable, quality services and positive outcomes

Why Is the EDI Important?

Collecting EDI tells us how our community’s children are doing, what programs and opportunities are helping and where additional resources need to be deployed to ensure the success of the entire community.

This report will help policy makers, nonprofit groups, educators and child advocates to quantify the success of programs and policies in place, uncover pockets of need and collaborate to ensure necessary support reaches all children.

EDI and Orange County

The first iteration of EDI was developed in the late 1990s at the Offord Centre at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. In 2008, researchers at UCLA established a licensing agreement with the Offord Centre to develop a U.S. version of the EDI.

Orange County was the vanguard site for implementing the EDI in the United States. Researchers, policy makers and child advocates here understood that data drives meaningful decisions for early childhood education, health and well-being.

For more information or to request specific data, please contact First5OC@cfcoc.ocgov.com or use the Request Form.

a happy mom with a young son sitting on her lap

Five Domains

UCLA developed three ranges for the five domains using typical population cutoffs, which helps to compare how children are doing developmentally both across and within communities and over time. The averages for all records valid for analysis are sorted from lowest to highest to determine the 10th and the 25th percentile population cutoff scores for each developmental domain.

For each domain, children’s performance is compared to their peers. The EDI can also show how children are performing within their communities and larger county.

Physical Health Icon

Physical Health & Well-Being

The child can hold a pencil and sustain energy throughout the full school day.

Emotional Maturity icon

Emotional Maturity

The child pays attention to directions and is willing to help others.

Communication Skills & General Knowledge icon

Communication Skills & General Knowledge

The child can communicate his or her needs and takes part in imaginative play.

Language & Cognitive Development Icon

Language & Cognitive Development

The child can communicate his or her needs and takes part in imaginative play.

Social Competence icon

Social Competence

The child gets along with others and follows rules and instructions.


The EDI in Action

Find out more below about how school districts, cities and businesses are utilizing the EDI to make systemwide changes and positive impacts on young children.

“The goal was to create a partnership with the school, service providers, and caregiver that could support the early development of the child from multiple angles. In reviewing the EDI data for their specific schools, parents shared how important the tool was to increasing school readiness by reaching children at a younger age. They mentioned that their role as parents was to be equipped with the knowledge and foundational learning that would support their children from birth and beyond.”

Paola Padilla, Director, Santa Ana Early Learning Initiative (SAELI)

Research Materials