Child welfare professionals may be some of the first to identify the mental or behavioral health needs of children and youth. It’s important that staff have the appropriate tools to adequately screen children and youth to identify these needs and make appropriate referrals to related professionals who can complete a more comprehensive diagnostic assessment and prescribe treatment. Resources in this section include a screening approach for mental health and trauma-related needs of children and youth in foster care, guidelines for appropriately using a trauma screening approach.
Children’s Mental Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017)
Provides an overview of children’s mental health, data and statistics, and symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for mental health problems.
Early Identification: Screening, Evaluation and Assessment
The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (2017)
Provides information and resources on developmental and behavioral screenings, assessments, and State guidance for children.
Identifying Mental Health and Substance Use Problems of Children and Adolescents: A Guide for Child-Serving Organizations (PDF - 2,954 KB)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Addresses approaches, methods, and strategies used to identify mental health and substance use problems of children and youth across a variety of settings that include child welfare; early and primary care; family, domestic violence, and runaway shelters; juvenile justice; and schools.
Mental Health Screening in Juvenile Justice Settings (PDF - 772 KB)
National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice (2016)
Provides information on screenings, assessments, selecting tools, setting the framework for system change, implementing screenings and assessments in practice, and maintaining and evaluating the screening process. The webpage provides additional resources on mental health screening, including examples from the field.
Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC)
Massachusetts General Hospital
Presents a brief screening questionnaire that is used by pediatricians and other health professionals to help recognize and treat psychosocial problems in children. The resource links to an original 35-item parent report form and a brief 17-item version for both the parent and youth forms. All are available to complete and receive the report for free from the website.
Screening, Assessing, Monitoring and Using Evidence-Based Interventions to Improve Well-Being of Children in Child Welfare (PDF - 613 KB)
Conradi, Landsverk, & Wotring (2014)
Describes a process for delivering trauma screening, functional and clinical assessment, evidence-based interventions, and the use of progress monitoring in order to better achieve well-being outcomes. This paper is part of the Integrating Safety, Permanency and Well-Being Series, white papers published by the Children's Bureau to further the national dialogue on the topic of well-being.
Early Childhood Mental Health
Provides a list of screening tools for child mental health. The webpage also provides resources on trauma, social and emotional development, and diagnostic instruments.