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April 2012Vol. 13, No. 3Strengths and Needs Assessment Tool

Wisconsin's Department of Children and Families' (DCF) Division of Safety and Permanence issued a memo outlining the State's policies and procedures for child welfare professionals using the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) tool. CANS is a standardized assessment resource for evaluating the needs of children and youth in care and the ability of caregivers to meet those needs.

The tool assesses the child or youth's trauma history and its impact, physical and mental health, behavioral and emotional needs, school performance, risk behaviors, and more. Caregivers' strengths and needs are evaluated pertaining to factors such as problem solving, empathy, social resources, physical health, and others. The initial assessment must be conducted within the first 30 days of placement, and follow-up assessments should be conducted after 6 months.

Training for Wisconsin child welfare workers is located on the Wisconsin Professional Development System’s website under Caseworker Trainings:

Assessing the Strengths and Needs of Children Placed in Out-of-Home Care Through the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths Tool is available on the Wisconsin DCF website: (39 KB)