Screening young children's risk for mental health problems: A review of four measures

Kelly A. Feeney-Kettler, Thomas R. Kratochwill, Ann P. Kaiser, Mary Louise Hemmeter, Ryan J. Kettler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Accurate identification of young children at risk for mental health problems is a key step in establishing early childhood preventive intervention programs. Without psychometrically valid identification procedures, children in need of early intervention may not be identified and may not receive appropriate care. This article provides a review of universal screening measures to help teachers, school psychologists, and other mental health professionals make informed decisions about selecting tools to assist in identifying preschool-age children at risk for mental health problems. A review of the literature on broadband measures designed to screen the social and emotional functioning of children age 3 to 5 years old yielded three published measures that met predetermined inclusionary criteria. An additional unpublished measure was also included. Selected measures were reviewed according to the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. Special attention was given to predictive validity indices, including sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value. The results of the review provided information on the measures that were most psychometrically sound and cost-effective for screening young children for mental health problems. Recommendations are made for routine screening, so young children can be referred for prevention programming before their problems worsen and negatively affect their development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-230
Number of pages13
JournalAssessment for Effective Intervention
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • General Health Professions


  • Behavior disorder
  • Externalizing disorder
  • Internalizing disorder
  • Preschool
  • Prevention
  • Screening


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