parenting assessments in care proceedings

When families are involved in care proceedings brought by Local Authorities, it is sometimes useful for there to be a residential parenting assessment.  A residential parenting assessment might be necessary where concerns have been raised about a child’s welfare or a parent’s ability to provide safe and appropriate care.

A residential parenting assessment will usually take place in a specialised environment and will quite often last for 12 weeks.  The placement will usually provide observation notes and an interim and final report.

During the time of the assessment, parents will usually be required to adhere to particular rules, for example not drinking alcohol or taking drugs and may be asked to provide breath or urine tests to show that they are abstaining from these.

It will depend on the particular circumstances of each case as to whether parents are allowed time away from the residential placement with their child(ren) unsupervised.

During the residential assessment, it is likely that the following elements will be assessed:

  • Basic Care – including bathing, feeding and hygiene;
  • Safety – making sure that the children are safe and supervised at all times;
  • Emotional warmth – the love and affection parents show to their children;
  • Stimulation – whether parents communicate and play with their children; and
  • Guidance and boundaries – how parents deal with difficult behaviour.

A residential assessment might also look at wider issues such as:

  • Family history – the relationship between all family members and any difficulties there might be;
  • Housing – whether the parents have a home for their child or whether some help is required;
  • Finances – how parents manage their money and budgeting

The final report will contain information about a family’s strengths and weaknesses as well as any areas which need to be addressed.  The report from the placement will offer an opinion as to whether the parents are able to keep their child(ren) safe.  This report will be used to assist the parties and the Court in the care proceedings.

At Stephens Scown we are very experienced in assisting parents in care proceedings and providing advice about the different assessments that they may be asked to undertake Our family law team advises families across the South West on the best solutions for them. If you would like to get in touch with the team by telephone 0345 450 5558 or email