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June 2013Vol. 14, No. 5Mental Health Screenings Workbook

Because children who are involved with the child welfare system often come from chaotic home environments, they have a significantly greater chance of facing mental health issues over their lifetime than children who have not been involved with child welfare. The New Jersey Mental Health Screening Tool (MHST) was developed by the New Jersey Department of Children and Families to assist frontline staff identify children who may be in need of mental health support.

A workbook for training, Child Development, Trauma and the Brain: The DYFS NJ Mental Health Screening Program, has been produced by the Institute for Families at the Rutgers University School of Social Work. The book is intended to instruct caseworkers on how to administer the MHST and to gain an understanding about their roles and responsibilities in mental health screening for these children.

The training workbook and a trainer's guide now are offered by the National Family Preservation Network (NFPN). The workbook focuses on trauma as a way of understanding the vulnerabilities of children and adolescents involved with child welfare to developing mental health challenges. Some of the issues addressed include the physical effects of trauma on children, understanding the physiological bases of mental illness, and identifying children who need mental health assessments.

The trainer's guide and participant workbook are available on the NFPN website: