Child Assessment Tool

The Child Assessment Tool (CAT) is a new tool used for all new out-of-home care (OOHC) placements, cases re-entering care, placement changes and transition of carers (and the children in their care) from Community Services to agencies.

The CAT has been designed to identify the most appropriate level of care for a child, based on assessment of their behaviour, and health and development needs. The tool improves transparency and consistency of placement decisions and focuses on the needs of the child.

The CAT is based on the Cleveland Child Assessment Tool and has been in use in the US for more than 15 years. It was customised for NSW in partnership with Tracey Feild from the Annie E Casey Foundation, one of the developers of the Cleveland tool. The Annie E Casey Foundation is a not-for-profit public policy agency specialising in services for vulnerable families and children.

What does the Child Assessment Tool do?

The CAT is based on behavioural issues and health and development needs applied across three age groups (under five years, five–eight years, and nine years and over). It then identifies a recommended level of care, across six levels of care and corresponding placement types.

The tool allows for a 30-day review period, during which the agency may request a review of an assessment completed by Community Services. These reviews are only conducted when new or additional information emerges that may affect the level of care required by the child.

Community Services caseworkers are working with non-government agencies to ensure the CAT is completed based on information about the behaviourial or health needs of a child available at the time of placement.

A factsheet and the CAT user manual provides further details on use of the Child Assessment Tool.

To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (24 hours/7 days)