The Toddler Development Instrument 


What is the Toddler Development Instrument (TDI)? 

The Toddler Development Instrument (TDI) is a questionnaire for parents and caregivers of children aged 1 to 2 years old that asks about the early experiences and environments of the children, their caregivers, and their families. The TDI includes questions about family, home and community environments, as well as the supports and barriers families experience within these environments.

What does the TDI measure?

Children’s early experiences have been shown to affect lifelong health and well-being. The TDI gathers information about contextual factors related to their early experiences. Topics covered by the TDI include:

  • Child health and well-being;
  • Early social experiences;
  • Caregiver well-being and context;
  • Family support; and
  • Community resources

Why is the TDI important?

Children’s early experiences have been shown to affect lifelong health and well-being. The purpose of the TDI is to increase our understanding of the early experiences, needs, and barriers faced by families with young children. Group-level findings from the TDI will be shared with communities and stakeholders to inform planning and action at local and regional levels. We anticipate that TDI data will contribute to building family and community resources, which, in turn, will better support the wellbeing of children, families, and communities.

History and Next Steps

Development of the TDI began in 2012 in collaboration with a diverse group of early years stakeholders, including parents and caregivers, service providers, child development researchers and HELP's Aboriginal Steering Committee. The development process involved extensive research, expert consultation, and focus groups with caregivers and service providers of young children. In 2017, the TDI was piloted in a range of early years services and programs including immunization clinics, Strong Starts, drop-in play groups and child care centres in ten communities across BC, collecting responses from nearly 500 families.

We are currently piloting the implementation of the TDI in five communities across BC. Our goal in this phase of research is to expand the TDI partnership network to see if we can reach entire community populations using the TDI. This collaborative work will be guided by a Research Forum Advisory (made up of child development experts), an Early Childhood Development Practice and Policy Advisory (made up of professionals leading early years services in BC), as well as the HELP Aboriginal Steering Committee.

About HELP and the TDI

The TDI has the potential to contribute to a comprehensive monitoring system implemented by HELP in partnership with BC Ministries, communities, and school districts. Together, the questionnaires that make up the monitoring system - CHEQ, EDI and MDI - provide an in-depth picture of experiences and outcomes related to children’s development over time. The TDI is a unique addition to the monitoring system in that the partnerships established for implementation extend beyond schools and school districts to a wide range of community-based early years services and programs including health, education, and family services.