Rebekka Schaffer, Project Assistant at Chapin Hall

I joined the TCOM Team here at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago at the start of July 2018. When I was first introduced to the team, I was worried I wouldn’t even remember what TCOM stood for, let alone understand what they really do. My fears were eased, however, as soon as I began my online training on the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths Comprehensive tool (CANS-Comprehensive). I am by no means an expert in this, but I was able to quickly grasp the progression of the online training and its larger implications in practice (even for someone who has no prior training in this area). While there are many important characteristics to TCOM implementations, and the CANS, its accessibility is the most critical. I think that its accessibility allows everyone to participate in and engage with the process of achieving positive life outcomes.

Unlike other measurement tools, the CANS items are customized for each jurisdiction that utilizes it. The ratings for each of these items aren’t arbitrarily assigned scores—they are ratings that translate into actions. These actions rely on the patient’s identified strengths, which can be used to support their needs.

Too often, the only people who understand the jargon behind these tools and measurements, that are meant to serve others, are the very people who created the tools in the first place. What we need, however, is for people involved at every level of care to understand how measurements work in order to achieve the best possible outcome. TCOM isn’t just geared towards researchers in its own community. It aims to create a common language between researchers, clinicians and case workers, and the families we serve. People should not be left out of their own transformation. TCOM presents a collaborative approach that needs everyone involved to participate in it—and makes that participation possible.

I know that I will continue to learn so much more about TCOM and its tools during my time at Chapin Hall, but I’m already encouraged by how much I’ve learned in just this past month. This is due to the structure of TCOM and its goal of making sure that the people we serve remains as a central tenant of why we all do what we do.

This post is written by Rebekka Schaffer, Project Assistant at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. Rebekka joins the TCOM team after graduating June 2018 from The University of Chicago with a major in Comparative Human Development and a minor in Human Rights. Her undergraduate research largely focused on trauma-informed approaches in urban schools and communities.


You can meet Rebekka, along with many other people using the CANS in their work, at this year’s TCOM Conference!

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