What types of needs assessment tools should Service Coordinators use?

Service Coordinators in the ROSS program are not required to use any specific needs assessment tools.

In general, needs assessments should be straightforward and user-friendly. The amount of time required to complete needs assessments will be determined on a case-by-case basis; not all residents will need to complete in-depth assessments. However, ROSS Service Coordinators should do a preliminary assessment for every resident to determine whether more in-depth assessments are needed.  The Service Coordinator may undertake more in-depth assessments or as an alternative, make referrals if the resident needs more in-depth assessments in   areas outside the expertise of the Service Coordinator.

Sources for several assessment tools are provided below, all free of charge unless otherwise indicated. Should Service Coordinators incur a cost to use a needs assessment tool, they may use the ROSS grant’s administrative funds for these purchases.

Initial assessments

These tools can be used at intake or at any point while working with program participants to assess overall well-being across a range of areas.

  • Family Development Matrix – provides benchmark criteria to do a general assessment of a family’s status across five areas (shelter, food & nutrition, transportation & mobility, health & safety, and social & emotional health & competence).
  • Vulnerability Index Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT) for Single Adults and Families – for use during intake at facilities serving people experiencing homelessness, this tool may include useful items to help assess immediate needs among ROSS program participants.
  • Fort Worth Housing Solutions ROSS Assessment – example from a ROSS grantee of a standardized initial assessment worksheet covering an array of topic areas.
  • Case management software is available from a variety of vendors and often includes built-in assessments. Please refer to the section How can Service Coordinators track progress toward individual participant outcomes? for more information on software options.

Assessments for elderly residents

These tools are specifically designed to assess the needs of elderly residents.

Assessments for people with disabilities

ROSS participant, Boston Housing Authority.

ROSS participant, Boston Housing Authority

This tool is specially designed to assess the needs of people with disabilities.

Aptitude and abilities assessments

These tools can assess residents’ skills and determine how they may be transferrable. Some assessments may require specialized or technical expertise to administer. Service Coordinators should exercise judgment in determining how to use these resources and refer to expert service providers if needed.

  • SkillScan – can help participants identify transferable skills (fee applies).
  • ACT: WorkKeys – assessments to measure essential workplace skills, including measures of “hard” and “soft” job skills, and help participants build career pathways (fee applies).
  • O*Net Ability Profiler – can help participants assess their abilities in nine job categories.
  • MySkillsMyFuture.org – an interactive online tool for residents returning to the workforce to help identify how their existing job skills can be applied to new or different job opportunities.
  • Kenexa Prove It! – a test to evaluate a participant’s abilities with Microsoft Office programs like Word and Excel (fee applies).

Vocational interest assessments

These tools can be used to assess residents’ interests related to specific types of employment and job training.

  • O*Net Interest Profiler – can help participants discover types of occupations that would be of interest.
  • Campbell Interest and Skill Survey – evaluates vocational interest and skills and provides a career planner for college-bound or college-educated individuals (fee applies).
  • MyNextMove.org – an interactive online tool for residents entering the workforce to learn more about possible careers to pursue, and how to do so.
  • COPSystem – a tool to help identify types of occupations best suited to an individual’s interests, abilities, and values (fee applies).
  • CareerScope – self-administered system that measures both aptitude and interest through valid and reliable assessment tasks (fee applies).

Personality assessments

These tools can assess residents’ personality traits and how those may motivate or otherwise affect the individual’s goals.

  • Human Metrics – personality test based on Carl Jung’s and Isabel Briggs Myers’ personality type theory. 
  • Keirsey Temperament Sorter – a 70-question instrument that helps individuals discover their personality type.
  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – a test that divides users into one of 16 different personality types and describes how personality type may affect a person’s interactions with others (fee applies).

How should Service Coordinators use assessments when working with new clients?

Early in the case management process, Service Coordinators can use a tool like the Family Development Matrix to score residents on a scale that ranges from “thriving” to “in crisis.”  This type of tool assesses overall well-being by examining the client’s status in a variety of areas. As noted above, specialized assessment tools help evaluate other specific needs such as employment, education, and other areas. Many of these require special training to administer.  Service Coordinators can refer clients to organizations that specialize in providing these assessments.

In addition to existing assessment tools, Service Coordinators may also find it helpful to create a brief one-page household assessment for new residents to complete and return to the front office at move-in, along with their apartment inspection form. This initial assessment can be useful to collect basic information about a family’s income, level of education, and desired self-sufficiency or independent living goals (e.g., education, job training, health outcomes). This quick assessment provides background that a Service Coordinator can use to start thinking about supportive services that may be needed should the resident choose to enroll in the ROSS program.

How should Service Coordinators document resident assessments?

Service Coordinators should document their initial and ongoing assessments of residents’ needs by keeping a record of results in each resident’s individual participant file. Consistent documentation allows the Service Coordinator to not only track a client’s progress, but to help clients revise goals as needed.  This documentation also helps the Service Coordinator tailor their work based on the progress clients are making which can in turn serve to motivate their clients. For more detailed information on documenting progress, refer to Tracking activities, measuring performance and outcomes, and preparing for HUD monitoring visits and audits in this guide.