DAYC-2, Developmental Assessment of Young Children-2

DAYC-2 or the Developmental Assessment of Young Children, Second Edition, is a standardized assessment commonly used in early intervention. It can be administered to children aged birth and six years old. It is widely used by early childhood educators, special education teachers, and physical, occupational, and speech-language pathologists. 

What is DAYC-2?

The purpose of the DAYC-2 is to identify children who fall behind developmentally compared to their same-aged peers. The assessment tool describes the severity (for example, above average, average, or poor) to help inform the child's team of the need for intervening services in a given domain. 

The DAYC-2 can also be used to monitor progress. However, repeating the assessment in a short time (for example, one month) could inflate scores due to a practice effect. It is best to wait at least six months to retest or until the child is in the next chronological age group. Many educational organizations and agencies have their own guidelines to follow regarding retesting the Developmental Assessment of Young Children. 

Developmental Assessment of Young Children-2: Methods

One of the greatest strengths of the DAYC-2 is the flexible methods for collecting data. This sets it apart from other task-oriented assessments such as the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales (PDMS-2). For some children, performing a novel task with an unfamiliar adult in a short time can be extremely difficult. However, with the DAYC-2, evaluators can collect information through direct assessment, observation, and interviewing the child's caregivers. 

The Developmental Assessment of Young Children-2 is often administered in early education programs, outpatient occupational, physical, and speech therapy clinics, in the child's home environment, or virtually. 

How is DAYC-2 administered?

Developmental Assessment of Young Children-2: Scoring 
  • Scoring during administration is simple. This allows the evaluator to make specific clinical observations while completing the assessment. Each task is pass/fail and scored 0 or 1 point. A raw score is calculated and converted to a standard score with the included appendix. The evaluator can then convert the standard score to a standard deviation and descriptive category. This last piece is essential in determining eligibility for services. 

  • Percentile ranks and age equivalents are also provided with the Developmental Assessment of Young Children. A general developmental index also serves as a guide for overall early childhood development and demonstrates where the child falls in relation to their peers. 

  • An online scoring and report system is available for an additional fee. This could be an excellent time-saver and organizational tool for a professional that performs many evaluations every year.

Developmental Assessment of Young Children-2: Domains
  • The domains used in the DAYC-2 directly reflect the areas of development defined by Individualize with Disabilities Educational Act or IDEA. They may be administered by one or several education professionals. 

Physical: The physical domain looks at motor functioning in early childhood. The subtests are often completed by an occupational or physical therapist, though a special education teacher can complete them. 
  • Gross motor examples: Can the child run without falling? Can they climb in and out of chairs independently?

  • Fine motor examples: Can the child imitate horizontal and vertical lines and circles? Can they snip with scissors?
Adaptive Behavior: A child's ability to engage in certain self-help skills such as toileting, feeding, and dressing are measured in this domain. 
  • Adaptive behavior examples include: Can the child clean up their own spills? Do they wash and dry their hands without assistance?

Cognitive: This domain examines a child's conceptual skills. This includes making decisions, using memory in a functional capacity, and engaging in purposive planning. 
  • Cognitive domain examples: Can the child match shapes? Can they repeat finger plays given a demonstration?

Communication: This domain looks at verbal and non-verbal communication and subtests for receptive and expressive language. 
  • Receptive language example: Can the child name three opposites? Can they answer 'wh' questions?

  • Expressive language examples include: Can the child use facial expressions to demonstrate five emotions? Can they define five simple words?

Social-emotional: Social awareness, ability to create and maintain relationships, and social competence are measured in this domain. 
  • For example: Does the child insist on trying to perform tasks independently? Can they take turns?

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It is important to note that a one-year-old child is expected to have very different skills than a five-year-old child undergoing the same assessment. The design of the tasks is organized with consideration for the wide range of child development. The child's age will help determine an 'entry point' in which given tasks are most likely to be appropriate. With basals and ceilings incorporated into the design, the evaluator can discontinue testing when items get too easy or too challenging. This shortens the testing time required for the Developmental Assessment of Young Children. 

Overall, the DAYC-2 provides a thorough glimpse at childhood development and can be administered by a team (for example, by occupational, physical, and speech-language therapists and a special educator) or separately by domain. 

Developmental Assessment of Young Children-2: Pros and Cons


  • Each domain takes only 10-20 minutes to administer.

  • Therapists can look at specific domains of concern without administering the entire test.

  • The DAYC-2 is norm-referenced. This means that the data collected allows educators to compare the results to a child's same-aged peers. The DAYC-2 can be used as a research tool due to this feature. 

  • There are several offered methods for collecting data. This is especially helpful when children have significant needs for modifications, low activity tolerance, and general difficulty completing standardized testing. 

  • The ability to collect data by caregiver input allows for easy telehealth delivery.


  • The materials are not standardized. While tasks contain simple materials such as scissors, glue, and paper, they may not be available in specific learning environments or at the child's home. 

  • While the DAYC-2 covers several early childhood domains, further assessment may be warranted for more information in some categories. For example, low scores in the cognitive domain may indicate a need for psychological testing. At the same time, the team might benefit from further expressive language testing when a child has below-average scores in that category. 


The DAYC-2 is a reliable assessment tool that special educators and related service providers commonly use. The flexibility in delivering the assessment makes it stand out among other early childhood assessments. Selecting appropriate evaluations is key to ensuring that a child does receive services if they are eligible, and the DAYC-2 can help the therapist or educator get accurate results and provide the best treatment.

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