In cases where parents have come to the attention of the HSE due to concerns regarding possible physical or emotional abuse or neglect of their children, a Parenting Capacity Assessment may be required. In addition, assessments may be sought by the HSE to inform reunification plans or issues concerning access.
The objective of Parenting Capacity Assessments is to establish as accurately as possible whether or not parents are adequately equipped to provide appropriate and stable emotional and physical care to their children.
The assessment process is tailored to the parents’ individual needs and areas of concern identified by the referring agency.
Parenting Capacity Assessments include:
- Clinical interviews with parents, children (where appropriate), significant others (for purposes of gathering collateral information)
- Psychometric assessment of social, emotional and psychological functioning
- Cognitive assessment/s
- Structured child and parent observations
- Structured/actuarial risk assessments (if applicable)
- Review of social work files, Books of Evidence, and any other relevant documentation (i.e. medical reports, psychological/psychiatric reports)
- Where appropriate, discussion and consultation with other professionals involved with the family as a unit or with individual family members
On completion of the assessment report, the clinician provides verbal feedback to the parents in respect of the assessment findings. This provides an opportunity for the parents and the clinician to discuss the outcome and recommendations of the assessment. The clinician may also attend one professional meeting as part of the assessment process if this is required by the referring agency. Attendance at additional meetings can be facilitated but will incur a fee for the referral agent. Clinicians are also available to attend family court where necessary. The service issues an invoice for court attendance and expenses.