Assessment Checklist for Children Assessment Checklist for Adolescents Brief Assessment Checklists

March 2020

My colleague Dr Anouk Goemans is hosting a workshop for organizations that use the Brief Assessment Checklists on Friday 29th May at Leiden University, The Netherlands.

Download the workshop flyera











The Brief Assessment Checklist for Children (BAC-C) and the Brief Assessment Checklist for Adolescents (BAC-a) are 20-item caregiver-report psychiatric rating scales designed to:

  1. Screen for and monitor clinically-meaningful mental health difficulties experienced by children and adolescents in in foster, kinship, residential and adoptive care; and

  2. Be safely used by children's agencies and health services without oversight by a child and adolescent mental health clinician.

The BAC-C and BAC-A were primarily designed to be used as screening measures. However, they may also be used as brief casework monitoring tools by foster care and adoption agencies, and for treatment monitoring in CAMHS.

The BAC-C and BAC-A were derived from the Assessment Checklist for Children (ACC, 120 items) and the Assessment Checklist for Adolescents (ACA, 105 items) respectively. The ACC and ACA instruments measure a broad range of mental health difficulties observed among children and young people in care that are not adequately measured by standard rating instruments, such as the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). These consist of: several types of interpersonal, attachment-related difficulties; insecure relating; social, behavioural and emotional dysregulation; trauma-related anxiety and dissociation; abnormal responses to pain; overeating and related food maintenance behaviours; sexual behaviour problems; self-injury; and suicidal behaviours and discourse.

The BAC-C and BAC-A have been translated to German and Dutch. Other translations will be added as they are completed.

Screening accuracy and other psychometric properties

Initial research data from the NSW Children in Care Study (CICS) suggest that BAC-C and BAC-A screening accuracy for identifying clinical-level difficulties among children (N=347) and young people (N=230) in care compares favourably with that of existing screening instruments, notably the SDQ and the Brief Problem Monitor (CBCL short form). The BAC-C and BAC-A provide highly accurate screening for clinical range ACC and ACA scores among children and young people in care (area under the curve [AUC] ranging from 0.96 to 0.99), as well as for CBCL clinical range scores (AUC: BAC-C = 0.89 to 0.92; BAC-A = 0.93 to 0.94). They provide moderately accurate screening for children that have clinical-level difficulties, as indicated by their reported use of mental health services (AUCs: BAC-C = 0.74; BAC-A = 0.79). Initial data also suggest the BAC-C/A total scores approximate the CBCL total problem score (a measure of global psychopathology) at least as well as the SDQ total difficulties score. In the CICS, BAC-CBCL total score correlations were 0.82 (BAC-C) and 0.88 (BAC-A), as compared to a mean SDQ-CBCL correlation (averaged across several studies) of 0.76. Internal consistency of BAC-C (N=347) and BAC-A (N=230) scores were 0.89 and 0.87 respectively (for details, see the preprint manuscript below).

Download the BAC-C and BAC-A checklists and a Scoring and Interpretation guide

Read more about the development and screening accuracy of the Brief Assessment Checklists in the following preprint manuscript:

Tarren-Sweeney, M. (2013).The Brief Assessment Checklists (BAC-C, BAC-A): Mental health screening measures for school-aged children and adolescents in foster, kinship, residential and adoptive care. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(5): 771-779.

Download the following open access article from the journal website:

Tarren-Sweeney, M., Goemans, A., Hahne, A., & Gieve, M. (2019). Mental health screening for children in care using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and the Brief Assessment Checklists: Guidance from three national studies. Developmental Child Welfare.