National Clinical Assessment Framework for Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care (OOHC) - March 2011

2.5 Use of screening and assessment tools

Page last updated: 05 December 2011

A key objective of the Framework is to improve consistency of preliminary and comprehensive health care assessments for children and young people in OOHC, including the role of clinicians and the type of assessment tools that may be appropriate.

As outlined above, three key domains have been identified and elements within those domains have been suggested for consideration by practitioners completing each of the assessments.

The primary method of completing assessments will be via interviews with the child (as appropriate), the biological parent, carer and relevant others – eg teachers.

There is a range of screening and assessment tools that may be used by practitioners to assist assessment across the specified domains and age ranges. These tools are not designed to be used alone, but rather as part of a comprehensive approach to assessment. The Framework recognises that the skilled application of assessment tools can be useful to determine individual progress over time and may also offer significant advantages to the collection of data which might otherwise not be captured for this population (thereby hampering evidence based policy development and research).

However, the range of practitioners likely to be involved in completing assessments under the Framework limits the capacity to prescribe the use of assessment tools for the target population. Therefore the Framework does not prescribe the use of any particular tools. Rather, the Framework defers to the clinical acumen of practitioners.

There is a range of assessment tools which might be useful to practitioners in completing assessments. Only assessment tools which meet the following criteria should be considered for use:

  • evidence-based and validated
  • age appropriate
  • normative and non-stigmatising
  • cost efficient
  • able to be used by appropriate clinician (or training available to support use)
  • able to be administered within appropriate timeframe (if used for surveillance needs).
During consultations, stakeholders suggested that the tools most appropriate for application are the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).

Other tools which might be considered include:

Developmental domain
  • Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS)
  • Language Development Survey
  • Child Development Inventories (CDI)
  • Brigance screens
  • Vision (Snellen, Sheridan Gardiner)
  • Hearing.Top of page
Psychosocial and mental health domain
  • Achenbach Child Behaviour Check List (CBCL)
  • Ages and Stages — Social and emotional (ASSE)
  • CRAFFT – Screening tool for substance abuse
  • HEADSS – Assessment framework for teen health risks.
The available tools and their relationship to the age groups and levels of assessment to be covered by the Framework are outlined in Table 3 below. The applicability of each tool to the four age groups and the three tiers of assessment are indicated as follows:

Yes - Applicable
No - Not applicable
Physical Health Domain
   
Ages
Assessment
Tools Comments Under 1 year 1-5 years 6-11 years 12-18 years Preliminary Comprehensive Specific
Height and weight percentiles Simple to administer.
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes
no
Developmental Domain
Tools Comments
Ages
Assessment
   
Under 1 year
1-5 years
6-11 years
12-18 years
Preliminary
Comprehensive
Specific
Child development

Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ)

Validated tool. 
Parent/carer completed.
Simple to administer.
For children 3 months to 5 years.

yes
yes
no
no
yes
yes
yes

Parent’s Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS)

Validated tool.
Parent/carer completed.
For children from birth to 8 years.
Can be administered in a range of settings.
Simple to administer

yes yes yes no yes yes yes

Language Development Survey

Validated tool.
Parent/carer completed
Simple to administer
Detects language delay in children 18‑35 months

no yes no no yes yes yes

Child Development Inventories (CDI)

Validated tool. 
Parent/carer completed.
Simple to administer.
For children 3 months to 6 years

no yes (can be used up to 6 years) no yes yes yes yes

Brigance Screens

Validated tool.
Direct measure
Simple to administer.
For children from birth to 7 years

yes yes yes no yes yes yes

Top of page
Developmental Domain
   
Ages
Assessment
Tools Comments Under 1 year 1-5 years 6-11 years 12-18 years Preliminary Comprehensive Specific
Vision
Snellen Simple to use.
no
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes
Sheridan Gardner Well established test.
no
yes
yes
no
no
yes
yes
Psychosocial Domain
Tools Comments
Ages
Assessment
   
Under 1 year
1-5 years
6-11 years
12-18 years
Preliminary
Comprehensive
Specific

Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)

Validated tool.
Simple to administer.
Parent/carer report
For children aged 3 to 16 years.
Can be applied in different settings.

no
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes

Ages and Stages – social and emotional (ASSE)

Simple to administer.
Parent/carer report
For children aged 3 to 66 months.
Can be applied in different settings

yes
yes
no
no
yes
yes
yes

Achenbach Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL)

Validated tool
Extended questionnaire competed by Parent/Carer and scored
For children 1.5 – 5 and 6-18
Youth self report

no
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes
yes

CRAFFT – screening tool for substance abuse

Self completed questionnaire/interview
For Adolescents 12+

no
no
no
yes
yes
yes
yes

HEADSS – Assessment framework for teen health risks

Self completed questionnaire or interview
For Adolescents 12+

no
no
no
yes
yes
yes
yes