Preschool Functional Behaviour Assessment

Program snapshot

Age group: Early childhood (0-6)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: No specific targeted population

Topic: Aggressive/violent behaviours; Antisocial/deviant behaviours

Setting: Urban area; Social services setting

Location: Alberta

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention

Brief Description

The Preschool Functional Behaviour Assessment Project employs the use of the evidence-based practice of functional behaviour assessment (FBA) to treat preschoolers at CASA Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health who are at high risk of developing delinquent and criminal behaviour.  The development of individual support plans based on the FBA approach integrates skill development and environmental modification with therapeutic interventions to reduce conduct problems, promote executive functioning and increase academic readiness. One of the main prorgams in which supported FBAs are practiced is the Head Start program.

Head Start (HS) is a comprehensive preschool and family support program that provides educational, nutritional, medical, and social support to children and families from low socio-economic groups. Many children participating in the Head Start program have complex educational, behavioural, emotional, social, and mental health profiles. Head Start staff are skilled in addressing many of the children’s needs but when individual children display signs of severe behavioural or mental health disorders, HS teachers and social workers connect with CASA therapists for further guidance.


The main goals of the Preschool Functional Behaviour Assessment project are to:

  • Reduce conduct problems in children by using the functional behaviour assessment methodology to develop and implement individualized support plans; and
  • Improve school readiness through the use of individualized support plans based on the functional behaviour assessment findings.


The appropriate clientele for the Preschool Functional Behaviour Assessment project are children between the age of 3 and 5 years who are registered in a Head Start program and have documented conduct and behavioural concerns. Children participating in the FBAs usually exhibit intense problem behaviours such as physical or verbal aggression, tantrums, hyperactivity or inattention, and sleep problems. Without intervention, these children’s highly disruptive behaviours make it extremely difficult for them to learn key academic skills or form positive peer relationships. Caregivers, families and HS staff working with children in this category are participants as well.

Core Components

The core components of the Preschool Functional Behaviour Assessment include the following:

  • Relationship-based assessment: The FBA process uses a bio-psychosocial approach to consider the factors promoting a child’s behaviour and the message that behaviour is communicating.
  • Treatment planning: The FBA process identifies children whose behaviours may have significant biological causes – such as children with Autism Spectrum Disorders or developmental delays – and allows for early referral to the appropriate services. Every treatment is designed to reduce problem behaviors while increasing protective factors.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: To more appropriately meet the needs of the child, parent, and staff, the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA-C) plus the FBA treatment planning should be used.  
  • Partnerships: Collaboration between CASA Child, Adolescent, and Family mental health and Edmonton’s Head Start (HS) preschool programs.
  • Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

The Preschool Functional Behaviour Assessment project was implemented in Edmonton (Alberta) from 2010 to 2013. Funding was provided through the Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF), Government of Alberta.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

No information available.

Cost Information

A social return on investment (SROI) has been conducted on Preschool Functional Behaviour Assessment. The findings from this study have shown the following:

  • The SROI ratio calculated for the program is 5.64:1 which indicates that for every dollar invested in Preschool Functional Behaviour Assessment, there is $5.64 return in social value; and
  • Social value created by avoiding educational system resources associated with special educational services; lost wages of parents to respond to children’s disruptive behavior;  health system costs for acute and mental health care; cost of counseling/therapy sessions.


Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: Preschool Functional Behaviour Assessment. Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from: 

For more information on this program, contact:

CASA Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health
Melody Morin
Telephone: (780)400-2270

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-08
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
Date modified: