Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains answers to many frequently asked questions (FAQs) about ENHANCE. Please contact us if you have any questions or comments. You can click the links for answers to specific questions.

Q. What is the Child Outcomes Summary Form (COSF)?

A. The Child Outcomes Summary Form (COSF) is a process developed by the Early Childhood Outcomes Center that provides a common metric for describing children's functioning compared to age expectations in each of the three outcome areas. The COSF provides a way for a team to summarize the child's level of functioning using information from many sources including assessment tools and parent and provider reports. The COSF process supports multidisciplinary “best practices” in early childhood assessment and is consistent with the approach promoted by numerous professional organizations.

To learn more about the COSF, or to download the COSF, go to the Early Childhood Outcome Center’s Child Outcomes Summary Form page.

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Q. Is the COSF an assessment tool?

A. No. States have the option to collect the OSEP data in any way that produces valid and reliable data. Many states have chosen to use the COSF because it allows them to aggregate information from programs that use different assessment tools or from teams who want to consolidate information about a child's functioning from multiple sources. However, the COSF is not the only way that states can gather progress information to address the OSEP child outcome reporting requirements.

For more information on state approaches, go to the State Approaches page, on the Early Childhood Outcomes Center website.

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Q. Are the COSF and COS the same thing?

A. Since the establishment of ENHANCE, there has been a national trend to drop the “F” from the acronym and refer to the COS, or Child Outcomes Summary process, instead. The emphasis has been encouraged in order to help teams focus on the process of identifying meaningful ratings rather than on the form that is completed once ratings have been determined. Regardless of which acronym is used, the child outcomes summary process and rating criteria remain unchanged.

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Q. What is the ENHANCE project?

A. The project involves four studies that are looking at the quality of child outcomes data being collected with the COSF. These studies are being carried out over four years. The study findings will provide the basis for recommendations on any needed improvements to the COSF process, the form, the supporting materials, or the training. Three of the studies will be carried out in local programs; the fourth involves the use of statewide COSF data. Each study will provide different kinds of information about the quality of COSF data. These studies investigate the following:

  • How teams decide COSF ratings
  • How consistent COSF ratings are with information from other assessments
  • COSF users’ perceptions of their experiences with the COSF process, including their impressions of the tool, the process, and the training and support they received
  • Patterns and trends in state-level COSF data

For more information about each study, go to the Project Overview and Study Designs.

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Q. What is the timeline for the studies?

A. The provider survey has completed data collection. Active data collection continues for all of the remaining studies. More detailed information about the status of each study is available on both the study design and data collection pages.

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Q. Where can I find out more about participating in ENHANCE studies?

A. Please see the especially for families section for more information if you have been asked to participate in one of the ENHANCE studies. Also, feel free to contact us to talk more about it.

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Q. What do you mean by child outcomes and federal reporting requirements?

A. An outcome is a benefit experienced as a result of services and supports provided for a child. States providing early intervention or early childhood special education services to children under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act must report data to the Office of Special Education Programs regarding the benefits children experience as a result of participation in these IDEA-funded programs. More detailed explanations about outcomes and reporting requirements are available on the Early Childhood Outcome Center FAQs. Many states are using the Child Outcomes Summary Form (COSF) to meet these federal reporting requirements.

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Q. What is the Early Childhood Outcomes (ECO) Center?

A. The Early Childhood Outcomes Center (ECO) is a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education to assist states and the federal government in designing approaches for measuring child and family outcomes for programs serving children birth to five years of age with delays, disabilities, and risk conditions.

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Q. What is SRI International?

A. SRI International is a research institution headquartered in Menlo Park, California. SRI conducts a variety of projects related to early childhood services including services for young children with disabilities and projects for the federal government, state governments, and foundations. For descriptions of these projects go to SRI’s Early Childhood program page.

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ENHANCE was funded by grant R324A090171 from the U.S. Department of Education. Website contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.