Since the arrival of managed care programs and principles, the use of quantifiable measures to guide assessment, level of care placement decisions, continued stay criteria, and clinical outcomes has been increasingly important. Until the development of LOCUS by the American Association of Community Psychiatrists (AACP) in 1996, there had been no widely accepted standards to meet those needs. Healthcare reforms in recent years have emphasized implementation of objective and uniform measurements for decision-making throughout the health care system. LOCUS is now used extensively in 26 states and in several international locations, and provides a single instrument that can be used for these functions in diverse settings and systems.

The success of LOCUS exposed the need for a similar approach to support decision making for Child and Adolescent Services. As a result, the AACP, in collaboration with the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), set to work to develop CALOCUS. This derivative closely mirrors the structure of its parent, and its emphasis on simplicity and accessibility.

Integrating behavioral health and physical health concerns, it provides a common language and set of standards with which to make consistently sound judgments and recommendations. With LOCUS and CALOCUS, clinicians and managers of healthcare resources have an instrument that is simple, easy to understand and use, but is also meaningful and sufficiently sensitive to distinguish appropriate needs and services. It provides clear, reliable and consistent measures that are relevant for making decisions related to quality of care, quality improvement and resource allocation.

Both LOCUS and CALOCUS have four main objectives. The first is to provide a system for assessment of service needs based on six evaluation parameters. The second is to describe a continuum of service intensities, characterized by the amount and scope of resources available at each "level" of care, in each of four categories of service. The third is to create a methodology for quantifying the assessment of service needs to permit reliable determinations for placement in the service continuum. The fourth is to facilitate clinical management and documentation.

This system is a dynamic one, and it has evolved over the years of its development. Its simple style and structure has invited use not only by a variety of clinicians with various levels of training, but also by service users themselves. This allows assessment to become a collaborative process. Engagement in this collaboration is central to person centered treatment planning. We continue to encourage collaboration in the assessment process whenever this is possible, and the accessible language of the instruments accommodates that process.

The LOCUS and CALOCUS instruments continue to demonstrate multiple potential uses:

At the individual client level:

At the system or population level:

While LOCUS and CALOCUS are simple and straightforward to use, we highly recommend anyone performing LOCUS or CALOCUS assessments be trained by a certified LOCUS trainer. Click here to learn why LOCUS training is critical to the successful use of the tools. To schedule your LOCUS Training now, click here