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DHS News April 2012 | PDF Icon DHS News April 2012

Together We CANS!

DHS has recently expanded the CANS (Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths) assessment tool. In 2008, DHS began using the tool to promote communication between families and child-serving systems and encourage cross-system communication (Read more about the DHS implementation of CANS in the November 2009 edition of DHS News). Initially used by DHS staff in the Office of Behavioral Health (OBH), the CANS tool has become an important part of their assessment process. 

DHS has now expanded the tool to the Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYF) shelter and group home providers. Every child coming from a shelter and going to a group home will be given a CANS assessment to highlight his or her current needs and strengths. Once the information is in the system, DHS service coordinators and case workers can use the CANS tool to inform plans, make decisions, and complete additional assessments or paperwork. More than 300 staff members have received the CANS certification training. In addition, there have been more than 5,500 CANS assessments completed and entered into the CANS information system over the last two years.

The CANS application has also been integrated into the KIDS IT system. Because the CANS tool is in a centrally located data system, workers from across program areas will have access to the information.

The CANS assessment tool is designed to empower the child and his or her family to play a more active role in identifying and addressing needs and strengths that are culturally reflective of that family. A vital component of CANS is that families and youth understand the tool so they can have an active role in the planning process and overall service delivery. There has been a growing effort to spread the word about the CANS tool. Information has been presented at conferences and communicated to provider agencies through a designated group of “CANS Champions”. In addition, DHS recently hosted a CANS resource table at the Allegheny Family Network Mental Health Expo. Plans are also in the works for a DHS “Brown Bag” lunch information session and for other outreach efforts to promote the tool.

To learn more about the CANS assessment, contact Robin Orlando at robin.orlando@alleghenycounty.us

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