Your Questions Answered: California Welfare and Institutions Code CANS Assessment Mandate

Authors: Nate Lubold, Rebecca Raczka and Kate Gallagher

What are the Department of Health Care Services Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC-35) and the Child and Adolescents Needs and Strengths (CANS assessment) tools to measure child and youth functioning as intended by Welfare and Institutions Code mandate?

Beginning in August 2018, there is going to be a rolling submission of the required data to the state of California. This mandate is specific to California; however, there are similar mandates and expectations in other states. The CANS assessment memorandum from the state of California’s Department of Health can be viewed here.

What is the CANS?

The Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths Assessment, also known in California as the California CANS 50, or the CANS assessment, is a reliable and valid tool used to measure child and youth functioning via a common platform. It is backed by a variety of service lines and populations and is used in a diverse system of care.


It is not a tool used to diagnose a child; rather, the CANS assessment is based on the communimetrics theory of communication. The CANS assessment is designed to facilitate meaningful dialogue and create a common language among all partners participating in the child’s treatment.


Are there other versions of the CANS assessment?

There are a number of variations to the CANS assessment, including those assessments that are specific to autism and intellectual disability.  Additionally, there are related tools that follow the same structure that focus on adults, such as the Adults Needs and Strengths (ANSA) assessment. In addition, families can utilize the Family Advocacy and Support Tool (FAST).


What is the PSC-35?

The Pediatric Symptom Checklist, or the PSC-35, is a tool used in conjunction with the CANS assessment to provide a more complete picture of the child’s treatment needs. This psychosocial screen is designed to facilitate the recognition of cognitive, emotional and behavioral problems, and is completed by families to ensure they have a voice at the table.


Can the software solutions built by Advanced Metrics meet the criteria set forth by varying regions of both the state and the country?

Yes, the software developed by Advanced Metrics, which houses the CANS assessment and the PSC-35, can be used in different regions of the state and country. Our web-based tools are not built for one unique region or type of program; they are designed in a way that the tools and the setup can be used in a very diverse area. There are multiple ways for your program to connect your data with Advanced Metrics. For example, your organization may complete a direct data access application into our system, or the Application Program Interface (API) can be used to connect to your electronic health record or other databases to our software solution.


How do I get more information on how my organization can meet the mandate requirements?

We can support your program as you seek to attain compliance. We offer a wide variety of tools and solutions that can meet the diverse needs presented from your specific agency. For more information about how we can help you meet the requirements, please contact Advanced Metrics by email at or by phone at 443-708-7395.