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CASA - Child and Adolescent Strengths Assessment

The CASA is a rater-report measure designed to assess child/adolescent status with regard to 30 potential strengths, for use in mental health service planning and delivery. Strengths are assessed on 6 dimensions: 1) family, 2) school/vocational, 3) psychological, 4) peer, 5) moral/spiritual, and 6) extracurricular.




John S. Lyons, Ph.D

Lyons, J.S., Uziel-Miller, N.D., Reyes, F., & Sokol, P.T. (2000). The strengths of children and adolescents in residential settings: Prevalence and associations with psychopathology and discharge placement. Journal of the Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 39(2), 176-181.

Contact Information: 
Domain Assessed: 
Externalizing Symptoms
Relationships and Attachment
Psychosocial Functioning
Age Range: 
Measure Type: 
General Assessment
Measure Format: 
Chart Review


Number of Items: 
Average Time to Complete (min): 
Reporter Type: 
Average Time to Score (min): 
Response Format: 

Reporters (parents, teachers, clinicians, or those with access and familiarity to clinical record) rate the youth on specific items (e.g., “Reads for pleasure”) on a 3-point scale, anchored to indicate the presence of a strength and the potential for development. In general, anchors indicate: “No Evidence,” “Interest/Potential,” and “Yes, Definitely.”

Materials Needed: 
Sample Items: 
DomainsScaleSample Items
Family Strengths Has strong positive relation with at least one parent.
School/Vocational Strengths Excels in at least one subject.
Psychological Strengths Has a sese of humor.
Peer Strengths Has close friend(s).
Morality/Spirituality Has developed values/morals.
Extracurricular Strengths Has artistic/creative talent.
Information Provided: 
Areas of Concern/Risks
Clinician Friendly Output
Continuous Assessment
Raw Scores


Training to Administer: 
Prior Experience in Psych Testing/Interpretation
Training to Interpret: 
Prior Experience in Psych Testing/Interpretation

Parallel or Alternate Forms

Parallel Forms: 
Alternate Forms: 
Different Age Forms: 


Clinical Cutoffs: 
Internal ConsistencyAcceptablealpha0.920.920.92
References for Reliability: 

CASAs were completed by house parents, primary therapists or caseworkers. The internal consistency was .92. Lyons et al. (2000) report interrater assessed at acceptable levels in other research studies.

References for Content Validity: 

Face Valid: Items for each domain appear to assess characteristics of the child/adolescents environment that relate to strengths and may support healthy functioning. The measure was developed through literature reviews and focus groups with family members and service delivery professionals. An initial draft was reviewed by experts in children’s mental health, child welfare, child development, and social services. Feedback from these stakeholders was incorporated and resulted in the final version of the CASA (Lyons, Uziel-Miller, Reyes, & Sokol, 2000).

Construct Validity: 
Validity TypeNot knownNot foundNonclincal SamplesClinical SamplesDiverse Samples
Sensitive to ChangeYes
Intervention EffectsYesYes
Longitudinal/Maturation EffectsYes
Sensitive to Theoretically Distinct GroupsYes
Factorial ValidityNo
References for Construct Validity: 

(Lyons et al., 2000). Validity research was conducted with children and adolescents in residential treatment facilities. Children and adolescents with higher strengths were more likely to have a positive discharge placement. Child and adolescent strengths (CASA) were compared to level of risk as measured by the Childhood Severity of Psychiatric Illness (CSPI). There were significant negative correlations between strength domains (CASA) and risk domains (CSPI). Potential limitations include that this measure was not compared to an existing valid strength-based assessment of children and adolescents. Additionally, validity was established with a residential population. More research is necessary to determine validity for nonresidential population of children and adolescents.

Criterion Validity: 
Not KnownNot FoundNonclinical SamplesClinical SamplesDiverse Samples
Predictive Validity:Yes
Postdictive Validity: Yes
Overall Psychometric Limitations: 

1. The psychometrics have been examined only in a residential treatment population. More research is needed with other populations. 2. More research is needed examining the validity with established measures, including strength-based measures. 3. The full psychometrics of the measure have not yet been examined, including test-retest reliability and interrater reliability.


Translation Quality: 

Population Information

Population Used for Measure Development: 

From Lyons, Uziel-Miller, Reyes, & Sokol (2000): The initial sample in which psychometrics were examined consisted of 450 children and adolescents (55% male and 45% female) aged 5-19 (M=13.7) selected randomly from sixteen residential treatment sites in Florida that billed Medicaid or expressed an interest in billing Medicaid. At the time of the review, 123 of the children had already been discharged. CASAs were completed by house parents, primary therapists, or caseworkers. This sample was ethnically diverse (49% White, 35% African American, 11% Hispanic, 5% mix of Native Americans and Asian/Pacific Islanders).

Use with Diverse Populations: 
Population Type: Measure Used with Members of this GroupMembers of this Group Studied in Peer-Reviewed JournalsReliableGood PsychometricsNorms AvailableMeasure Developed for this Group
1. Patients in residential treatmentYes

Pros & Cons/References


1. This measure provides a comprehensive assessment of potential strengths in children and adolescents’ lives across multiple contexts. 2. It assesses different categories of strengths from different contexts (e.g., school/vocational strengths and peer strengths). 3. It appears easy to complete and the rating scale makes conceptual sense to clinicians.


1. The psychometrics have been examined only in a residential treatment population. More research is needed with other populations. 2. More research is needed on the measure's psychometrics including test-retest reliability and interrater reliability. 3. More research is needed examining the validity with established measures including strength-based measures. 4. There is no psychometric research regarding the measure’s reliability with specific trauma populations. 5. The measure has not been translated into other languages for use by non-Englishspeaking assessors. English-literate clinicians can use the measure when working with other language groups, but the psychometrics of such a procedure have not yet been determined.


A PsychInfo literature search (6/05) of "Child and Adolescent Strengths and Assessment" or "CASA" anywhere revealed the measure has been referenced in 1 peer-reviewed journal articles. One other article referenced only the paper (not the measure) and is not included. 1. Lyons, J.S., Kisiel, C.L., & West, C. (1997). Child and Adolescent Strengths Assessment (CASA): A pilot study. Family Matters, 3, 30-33.

Developer of Review: 
Trauma Center staff
Editor of Review: 
Chandra Ghosh Ippen, Ph.D., Madhur Kulkarni, M.S.
Last Updated: 
Friday, February 14, 2014