2022 Edition

Youth Psychosocial Services (CA-YPS) 4: Intake and Assessment

The organization’s intake and assessment practises ensure that youth receive prompt and responsive access to appropriate services.




Youth participating in Psychosocial Services receive community based services that facilitate childhood development and resiliency using a holistic approach that improves family functioning and increases child well-being and safety.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • In a few rare instances, urgent needs were not prioritized; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Culturally responsive assessments are the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Urgent needs are often not prioritized; or 
  • Services are frequently not initiated in a timely manner; or
  • Applicants are not receiving referrals, as appropriate; or 
  • Assessment and reassessment timeframes are often missed; or
  • Assessments are sometimes not sufficiently individualized; 
  • Culturally responsive assessments are not the norm, and this is not being addressed in supervision or training; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent; or
  • Intake or assessment is done by another organization or referral source and no documentation and/or summary of required information is present in case record. 
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • There are no written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.  
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Screening and intake procedures
  • Assessment procedures
  • Copy of assessment tool(s)
  • Written intake materials
  • Community resource and referral list
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Youth served
  • Review case records


CA-YPS 4.01

The organization defines in writing:
  1. eligibility criteria, including age, developmental stage, and custodial status;
  2. scope of services and supports, special areas of expertise, and range of behavioural/emotional concerns addressed;
  3. opportunities for active family participation and support; and
  4. opportunities for active participation in community activities.


CA-YPS 4.02

Youth and primary caregivers are screened and informed about:
  1. how well their request matches the organization's services; and
  2. what services will be available and when.
NA Another organization is responsible for screening, as defined in a contract. 

Fundamental Practice

CA-YPS 4.03

Prompt, responsive intake practises:
  1. gather information necessary to identify critical service needs and/or determine when a more intensive service is necessary;
  2. give priority to urgent needs and emergency situations;
  3. support timely initiation of services; and
  4. provide placement on a waiting list or referral to appropriate resources when youth cannot be served or cannot be served promptly.


When it is not possible to directly connect youth to services, documentation of the reason why should be provided in the case record, for example, when youth are moved by the ministry.


Vulnerable populations, such as youth that are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ), are at high risk of violence and harassment. The organization should ensure these youth are safe, welcomed by staff, and are treated with respect. For example, providing intake forms that allow youth to self-identify their gender as well as their first name and preferred pronouns can support that effort.
Examples: Organizations can respond to identified suicide risk by connecting youth to more intensive services; facilitating the development of a safety and/or crisis plan; or contacting emergency responders, 24-hour mobile crisis teams, emergency crisis intervention services, crisis stabilisation, or 24-hour crisis hotlines, as appropriate.


CA-YPS 4.04

Youth participate in an individualized, culturally, and linguistically responsive assessment that is:
  1. completed within established timeframes;  
  2. updated as needed based on the needs of youth; and
  3. focused on information pertinent for meeting service requests and objectives. 


Youth who have been the victims of human-trafficking will oftentimes have severe deficiencies in their educational, emotional, and physical development in addition to any serious emotional disturbance or behavioural issues they may be struggling with. If at any time during the assessment it becomes apparent that the youth has been a victim of human trafficking, particular attention should be placed in those areas.


CA-YPS 4.05

Youth are assessed for:
  1. a history and presence of emotional and behavioural problems, substance use and other health conditions; 
  2. educational status, including enrollment in early childhood education or school; 
  3. developmental history;
  4. traumatic experiences and trauma-related symptomatology;
  5. past or present connection to the juvenile justice system;
  6. medical history, including past medication prescriptions and efficacy; 
  7. life skills and community support; and
  8. resource needs of the family/primary caregiver. 


The Assessment Matrix - Private, Public, Canadian, Network determines which level of assessment is required for COA’s Service Sections. The assessment elements of the Matrix can be tailored according to the needs of specific individuals or service design.