The Brief Assessment Checklist for Adolescents (BAC-A) is a 20-item caregiver-reported measure of mental health difficulties in adolescents developed by Tarren-Sweeney (2013). A similar assessment tool is also available for children: the Brief Assessment Checklist for Children (BAC-C).

Both measures are designed to assess the mental health of children and young people in care, adopted, or maltreated over a period of four to six months. They can be used to screen and monitor mental health difficulties.

Terms of use

BAC-A and C are free to use subject to the conditions laid out by the developer.

Copyrights for the BAC-A and C are held by the author, Michael Tarren-Sweeney, PhD, 2012. This instrument may only be used, copied or downloaded for legitimate mental health screening, casework monitoring and research purposes. It should not be altered without the author’s permission. They must not be used for commercial purposes including within commercial case management systems that would result in services having to pay a fee to access the measures.

Please see the website for all information: http://www.childpsych.org.uk/BACinfo.html



The BAC-C can be used by parents or carers of children aged 4 to 11 and the BAC-A can be used to assess children aged 12 to 17.

We are not currently aware of any evidence regarding the accessibility of this measure for parents or carers with learning disabilities.

To our knowledge no study has been published regarding the suitability of the measure across different ethnic or linguistic groups.

Please do get in touch at CORC@annafreud.org if you are aware of any information that may be of interest to users of the measure as we may be able to update our webpage to include it.


The questionnaire takes between five and ten minutes to administer. Due to the nature of the questions, we recommend that attention is paid to how it is introduced to parents/carers, being considerate of the potential to cause feelings of judgement or guilt relating to caring abilities. These questionnaires are NOT used to assess or judge the ability or capacity of parents or carers, but to help develop understanding of the child or adolescent’s mental health.

Working remotely

We have been granted permission form the copyright owners to provide electronically editable versions of both the BAC-A and C, please see here to access these: https://www.corc.uk.net/outcome-experience-measures/questionnaires-you-can-fill-in-electronically/

For more information of working remotely with outcome measures, please read our guide: https://www.corc.uk.net/outcome-experience-measures/using-outcome-and-experience-measures-remotely/

Scoring & Interpretation

Respondents answer each statement focusing on the feelings and behaviours of the child or young person over the past four to six months:

Not true = 0                            Did not occur = 0

Partly true = 1                         Occurred once = 1

Mostly true = 2                        Occurred more than once = 2

A total score can be obtained by summing scores on all 20 items, with the total score ranging from 0 to 40. The developer recommends that unanswered questions may be scored as 0 if there are only one or two missing answers. For more unanswered questions, the child’s caregiver should be asked to score the unanswered items.

The child or young person should be referred for further assessment to a child and adolescent mental health service or professional if their BAC-C or BAC-A score is 7 or higher, unless they are already clients of such a service (Tarren-Sweeney, 2012).

More information about the scoring and interpretation of the questionnaires is available at: http://www.childpsych.org.uk/BAC_scoring_and_interpretation.pdf

Psychometric properties




Internal consistency

Degree to which similar items within a scale correlate with each other.

Internal consistency was found to be high for both the BAC-C and BAC-A (Tarren-Sweeny, 2013; Goemans et al. 2019).

Construct validity

Degree to which the questionnaire actually measures the specific trait or attribute it is intended to measure.

To our knowledge no published study has explored the factor structure of the BAC-A and BAC-C.


Test-retest reliability

Degree to which the same respondents have the same score after period of time when trait shouldn't have changed.

To our knowledge no published study has explored the test-retest reliability of the BAC-and BAC-C.


Convergent validity

Degree to which two measures of constructs that theoretically should be related are in fact related.

Both the BAC-C and BAC-A were positively correlated with the Nijmeegse Ouderlijke Stress Index, a measure of parenting stress (Goemans et al. 2018).

Concurrent validity

Correlation of the measure with others measuring same concept.

Both the BAC-C and BAC-A were positively correlated with the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; Tarren-Sweeney, 2013) and with all difficulty subscales of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (Goemans et al. 2018).

Discriminant validity

Lack of correlation with opposite concepts.

The BAC-A and BAC-C were negatively correlated with the Prosocial subscale of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (Goemans et al. 2018).


The BAC-C and BAC-A have been translated to German, Dutch and Spanish and are available at: http://www.childpsych.org.uk/downloadBAC.html


Goemans, A., Tarren-Sweeney, M., van Geel, M., & Vedder, P. (2018). Psychosocial screening and monitoring for children in foster care: Psychometric properties of the Brief Assessment Checklist in a Dutch population study. Clinical child psychology and psychiatry, 23(1), 9-24.

Tarren-Sweeny, M. (2012). Brief Assessment Checklists. Scoring and Interpretation. Accessed on 25 March 2021 at: http://www.childpsych.org.uk/BAC_scoring_and_interpretation.pdf

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.

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