Ages 3-21

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Service Coordination for Ages 3-21

Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) - Comprehensive Multisystem Assessment (6-21)

The CANS is a multiple purpose information integration tool that is designed to be the output of an
assessment process. The purpose of the CANS is to accurately represent the shared vision of the child
serving system—child and families. As such, completion of the CANS is accomplished in order to allow
for the effective communication of this shared vision for use at all levels of the system. Since its primary
purpose is communication, the CANS is designed based on communication theory rather than the
psychometric theories that have influenced most measurement development. There are six key
principles of a communimetric measure that apply to understanding the CANS.

Six Key Principles of the CANS

    1. Items were selected because they are each relevant to service/treatment planning. An item exists because it might lead you down a different pathway in terms of planning actions.
    2. Each item uses a 4-level rating system. Those levels are designed to translate immediately into action levels. Different action levels exist for needs and strengths. For a description of these action levels please see below.
    3. Rating should describe the child/youth, not the child/youth in services. If an intervention is present that is masking a need but must stay in place, this should be factored into the rating consideration and would result in a rating of an “actionable” need (i.e. “2” or “3”).
    4. Culture and development should be considered prior to establishing the action levels. Cultural sensitivity involves considering whether cultural factors are influencing the expression of needs and strengths. Ratings should be completed considering the child/youth’s developmental and/or chronological age depending on the item. In other words, anger control is not relevant for a very young child but would be for an older child or youth regardless of developmental age. Alternatively, school achievement should be considered within the framework of expectations
      based on the child/youth’s developmental age.
    5. The ratings are generally “agnostic as to etiology”. In other words this is a descriptive tool. It is about the “what” not the “why”. Only one item, Adjustment to Trauma, has any cause-effect judgments.
    6. A 30-day window is used for ratings in order to make sure assessments stay “fresh” and relevant to the child or youth’s present circumstances. However, the action levels can be used to override the 30-day rating period.

How do I get Service Coordination?

Referrals can be initiated by families, schools, counselors, social workers, probation officers, ministers, or other professionals Contact the Family and Children First Council office to speak with the Service Coordinator.

What information is needed?

    • The child/youth’s name
    • The home address and basic contact information
    • The child/youth’s age
    • The concern of the family

What will the family be asked to do?

    • Participate in the assessment
    • Identify their team members
    • Attend Meetings
    • Develop a Plan to meet needs identified for your family and youth to maintain the youth in the home and community.

What does Service Coordination look like?

The Service Coordinator meets directly with the child/youth’s family in the home or office to complete strength based assessments and identify the primary concerns.

The Service Coordinator pulls together a team of all the service providers and natural supports.

The team creates a plan that aligns the services already being delivered and develops additional supports to meet the specific needs of the child/youth.

The Service Coordinator coordinates meetings with the team and the family to ensure plan implementation.