Assessment and Referral : County of Los Angeles Community Assessment Service Center

Program/Practice Name: County of Los Angeles Community Assessment Service Center (CASC)

Agency Name: County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Substance Abuse Prevention and Control, Adult Treatment and Recovery Services Division

Contact Information:
Linda G. Dyer
Health Analyst
Adult Treatment and Recovery Services Division
Substance Abuse Prevention and Control
1000 S. Fremont Avenue, Bldg. A-9 East, 3rd Floor
Alhambra, CA 91803 
Phone: (626) 299-4109
Fax: (626) 458-6823
ldyer@ph.lacounty.gov

Type of Program/Practice: CASC serves as an entry point for any Los Angeles County citizen seeking alcohol and other drug treatment and recovery services. CASC connects CalWorks1 clients identified with mental health, substance abuse, and similar issues with treatment, and coordinates other specialized supportive service referrals for clients with Greater Avenues of Independence (GAIN), the initial program point of contact for TANF in the Department of Public Social Service (DPSS).

1 CalWorks is the name used for California programs that include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Welfare to Work programs.

Program/Practice Description: The CASC system is composed of eight contracted community-based organizations located throughout Los Angeles County's eight Service Planning Areas. Twenty service center sites are located throughout Los Angeles County. Some sites are co-located in behavioral health treatment centers and others are free-standing community sites where services are coordinated with the local DPSS GAIN office.

CASC works closely with a network of contracted alcohol and other drug treatment agencies, mental health providers, domestic violence agencies, and other community-based organizations providing substance abuse assessments, information, and referrals to a wide variety of supportive services. CASC ancillary referrals include job development, literacy training, and temporary housing, as well as referrals to food banks, health care, and other needed services.

Background/Program History: CASC began in 1997 prior to the inception of CalWorks (1998). The program was designed by a steering committee composed of DPSS representatives, county-based treatment providers, and advocates. GAIN service workers now also participate on the steering committee. The steering committee continues to be actively involved in the program by meeting quarterly to revise CASC program policies and procedures.

Innovations and Results: CASC serves as the liaison between the GAIN (TANF) client and provider. CASC workers must be able to determine if the provider is licensed and assess the quality of the care provided. A well-trained CASC worker also must be able to create a confidential setting for clients, correctly identify the client's service needs, and connect the client to appropriate mental health or substance abuse services. CASC clients can receive a referral to treatment at their initial intake/assessment before leaving the CASC office, thus "catching" the client at the point of highest motivation for change. CASC staff are trained in motivational interviewing techniques.

Operations: CASC is intended to operate on a large scale, specifically within the context of a large county or State-based social services system. To be implemented successfully, a network of treatment providers (substance abuse, mental health) must be available, licensed and/or certified, and able to comply with the requirements of the CASC model. These providers and their office staff should be culturally and linguistically competent.

Funding: Resources for the program are provided directly from State CalWorks allocations.

Staffing: CASC offices operate in two distinct types of settings: within a behavioral health treatment center, where clients receive both CASC assessments, treatment, and support services; or in an independent community-based site where both assessments are performed and treatment and services are coordinated between the treatment provider and the DPSS GAIN office. In addition to the CASC program director, there are four key staff positions: CASC advocate, CASC assessor, peer advocate, and community specialist.

Additional Information: To ensure standardization and continuity of diagnoses, CASC staff are trained to use the Addiction Severity Index (ASI). CASC employs a database tracking system, which can track clients across the county system and, through a review process, verify client engagement in treatment and match clients to the most appropriate treatment available.

Tips to Implementation:The CASC model provides flexibility in a large social service agency setting to address client needs as well as the program implementation needs of a large county-based system. The balance between systems needs and individual client needs is at the heart of this program. Implementation of new program services is facilitated through this model.

Keys to Success: CASC attributes its success to several mechanisms:

  • Developing strong relationships of trust among CASC, DPSS, and community providers through cross-agency and provider training.
  • Standardization/continuity in diagnosis and treatment through the use of ASI. All CASC staff are certified in using ASI through training provided by the University of California, Los Angeles, which ensures consistency in the application of services across all CASC sites.
  • Centralized reporting of aggregate data, providing the capacity to make data-driven decisions and inform program and policy.
  • Transparency of the CASC/GAIN system to the client.

Successes: CASC benefits from significant administrative support from DPSS and GAIN staff and community-based providers, thus ensuring clients are able to successfully engage in treatment and fully benefit from the program's employment supports.

Challenges: Challenges include dealing with staff turnover, principally at the DPSS GAIN office, which results in additional need for training, and distributing treatment services equitably across community providers.

The following tools are associated with County of Los Angeles Community Assessment Service Center.  Please send us an email at upitoolkit@icfi.com for more information about these tools.

Administrative Resources

Includes CalWorks Supportive Services flow chart, job descriptions for key CASC positions, prototypes, new application orientation talking points, sample presentation schedules, and policies/procedures for implementing this type of program

Assessment tool used by CASC staff

Assessment tool used by CASC staff