Tuesday, May 3, 2011


If you were participating in a parental capacity assessment, would you know what to expect? Have you already been through one of these?

There are several components to an assessment but certainly the elemental interview will subject you to a series of questions which can either appear conventional and non-threatening or if you are nervous to entrust your future to the psychologist who administers the test, they will be unsettling and worrisome.

Interestingly, the psychologist engaged by Child Protection does not necessarily develop the questions unilaterally but often a case worker or a team of child protection case workers suggests the questions for which they would want to have answers. The parents are customarily presented with these questions in advance of the meeting with the psychologist. If you have had a CPA done, do these questions reflect your experience?

Keeping in mind that this is an assessment of capability to parent, rather than an assessment of parents' relationship with the MCFD Director and protection workers, what questions would be appropriate to ask parents whose parental capabilities are in question? Here are sample questions that might be posed to the Baynes given their family story and their relationship with MCFD over the past 3.5 years.
  1. I am sure that SWs want to hear how convincingly parents can express their desire and ability to care for their four children, so that is a question that would be asked.
  2. Can the parents express assurances that they are able to and determined to provide reasonable safety from injury for their children?
  3. Can the parents supply substantive evidence that they possess the necessary resources to securely parent four children (resources: financial, residential, family relationships, community)?
  4. Do the parents believe that they not only can but that they will work collaboratively with the Ministry to make certain the safety and health of their children?
  5. Do the parents have a reliable and responsive resource network upon which they can and will call when and if the demands of parenting four children after 3.5 years without them, becomes strained?
  6. Are these parents able to present a demonstrable plan for a home setting, facilities and environment/atmosphere that speaks effectively to child safety, practicality and health?
  7. Have the parents adequately considered the needs of their children, specially a child with a special need, and are they capable of attending to these needs?
  8. When and if one of the children has an appointment with a medical professional for any reason, can the parents provide assurance that they will listen to and follow medical recommendations concerning that child’s needs?
  9. Do the parents express an openness and a willingness to follow forthcoming recommendations with regard to further requisite activities and/or resources that will possibly derive from the Parental Capability Assessment?
Since the court case from start to judge's conclusion spanned an entire year and since the court case was initiated by the Ministry of Children and Family Development and since MCFD demonstrated with many verifiable examples an aggressive and adversarial posture against the Baynes for three years, and since the ruling by Judge Crabtree did not accept the MCFD allegation that the Baynes had shaken their baby, at no time can it be appropriate to ask certain questions. This is an assessment of parenting capacity. Therefore, it cannot be appropriate or acceptable for the psychologist on behalf of MCFD SWs to ask anything that may require parents to comment upon whether they are a lesser risk now, or more responsible and safety conscious today than they were three years ago. That was a court matter already and the parents' position was that they were not at risk three years ago. Nor is it appropriate to ask whether they have been to any degree responsible for discord with MCFD since that has relationship to inherent parenting capacity.

And if you are a parent who has gone through one of these assessments, did you receive the questions prior to answering them, and was your lawyer permitted to contest the use of any question that was deemed inappropriate? And are these questions similar to those asked of you? Or were there other kinds of questions?


  1. My Lawyer Explained just how these parental assesments can be played with especially thier Psychologist`s interpretations!

    It could be better to remain silent at most times.

    1. please elaborate if you can

    2. Anonymous Feb 20, 2012 04:08 PM
      It is unlikely that the Anon who wrote the above comment to which you made your request, will see this and respond. However, you asked another question in a later comment in this chain, so please look there because I have asked Alison to comment and perhaps she will have time to do this. You notice I trust that her comment was almost one year ago.

  2. I think the government needs a parental capacity assessment. After all, they are the ones whose children (in "care") seem to be subject to a high rate of abuse and death. When will they be held accountable for their bad parenting? When will they be subject to what a US judge calls the "equivalent of the death penalty" (i.e., the termination of parental rights).

    The whole business is so horribly Orwellian. What a way to make a living.

  3. As a student social worker, I had the opportunity to read one parenting capacity assessment during my practicum with MCFD. However, it was prepared by Dr. Paul Eirikson, not Dr. Bowden. In this particular instance, the parent has a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which is the source of the doubt for parenting capacity.

    The MCFD referral questions included the following:
    1. Review of documentation & files @MCFD office, specifically a review of reports from Project Parent.
    2. Intellectual testing.
    3. Home visit & analysis of family interaction parents, the roles & relationships & family members focusing specifically on the health & safety of the children.
    4. Assessment of parents 'benefit ability' to benefit from parenting interventions on a short & long term basis.
    5. Interviews to include parents, ministry social worker, foster parents, Project Parent worker and Support worker from the Band (family is Aboriginal).

    Also included in the referral questions in the report was the parents referral question, which was regarding the return of the children to their care.

    A big part of the report was the interview with the parent, including personal history, parenting plan, services for parenting, drug & alcohol history/current situation, criminal history, the children, psychological functioning/mental status/behavioural observations, & psychological testing.

    I don't know if these subtitles were specific to this particular assessment, or if they are typical of most assessments.

    1. where can i find out about more queston s in an assessment

    2. Anonymous Feb 20, 2012 04:06 PM
      I have asked Alison to comment and perhaps she will have time to do this. You notice I trust that her comment was almost one year ago.

    3. Unfortunately, no, I do not know any more about Parental Capacity Assessments now than I did as a student. The one thing I DO know is that they cost a LOT of money (around 6K), and so are not used very often. I would hazard a guess that the social worker and team leader could customize the referral questions to the specific case, i.e., if parental capacity was in question due to a diagnosis of FAS, then an IQ test would be requested, but perhaps not always.

  4. Thank you Alison for the helpful information

  5. I am in Ontario, so my experience might be a bit different. I had a parenting capacity assessment done. The process was like this:
    a) interviews with myself, the social worker, and my parents
    b) phone interview with some support services we had been involved with
    c) home visit (where the children lived but I did not) with interaction..
    d) two clinical surveys, which apparently told the assessor everything she wanted to know

    I did poorly on it, maybe due to the situation at the time. But I felt at the time (and still do) that the assessor didn't take a lot of the issues I was trying to deal with into consideration and didn't look at the situation and all of the factors involved.

    An assessment is only as good as the assessor and from what I read about the assessor I had is that she tends to write her assessments in the same way, and about 95% of the time will recommend the parents losing their children to the courts.

  6. Alison, could I have your contact information? I'm doing a literature review on parenting capacity and I would like to interview you or send some questions.
    Thank you. MM

  7. I am curious as to whp has ever passd a parent capacity assessment

  8. Im trying to find infirmation on what to expect on this evaluation. Im taking it on april 4.2014... Ive asked numerius amounts of times if the people who watched me interact. with my son now is 9months if they think i handel him approperatly. Ive been told since day one by case worker and many others they dont think my ability to raise my son is an issue in the care of his milestones and feeding and so on..but they still insisiting that i have this evalution. Its routine i been told. Also no one wants to even tell me what to expect. There issue is they r worried at first i might relapse but since they couldnt find any evidence to suplort that now they r goin after my mental health because i recieve ssi...i have anxiety..i like to jbow since when does that mean u cant take of a child and also at time i was grated the ssi my life and living was drasticaly diffrent from now..no one seems to hear me at the many evalutions ive hax and they all seem to b very generic and seems lime jyst the name at top was changed...i hope this is different

  9. Cathie
    Hi. Does anyone know of an assessor who does not support CAS' desire to take children from good homes, and who would do assesment at very low cost, and lives in Toronto area?? My email is cathiemichener@gmail.com. My husband and I who are separated had to go through this crazy process. I also found that the assessor did not consider any of the issues i was dealing with at the time, and was very harsh in her assessment, even though she came across as very nice and motherly. All of my testing was valid, but overall I "failed" the assessment. Not easy being critiqued on your parenting for 8 hours by someone who had just met you. It is a very humilating and horrible thing to be evaluated as being unfit after all the work I have done as a mother, from a abusive marriage at times, of 4 beautiful boys. I agree with the person who said that the government needs an assessment, the CAS, and the psychologists who do these awful things. It is maybe needed in very extreme cases, but parents aren't perfect, and if they can provide the necessities of life, love, and are trying that should be enough!

    1. Cathi, It is fortunate that I happened to be looking carefully at comments and noticed yours, attached to this May 3, 2011 posting … I’m amazed to have seen it. I will send your note to a colleague. I have no idea what he can advise you to do, but he may have something to say.

    2. Hi I went through the same thing I failed found another doctor to evaluate the test.
      The guy I had got had done work with cas as well. He said that the person who did my test was using test that were no longer vaild and felt that he only took the word of the workers instead of doing the right procedures if you want more info e-mail at ashie-76@outlook.com .

    3. Does anyone find a good assessor in Toronto area to do an independent PCA without a lot of expense? I am being assessed by a psychologist hired by CAS and I do not feel positive so far

  10. i have a PCA requested on my behalf due to my children being in an out of care since all four children were still toddlers and so on i am at the end with the agency i have given up my last child for adoption to a close friend of mine and had my kids reprehended and so i am wondering if it is something they do to fail parents or if anyone has ever had a good experience i am in a residential treatment center that houses moms an there kids .and can advocate for me i am a great parent and have taken on so many programs to know how to parent positively just had struggles in the past i am nervous for the PCA to come back bad even though i am in a different place in my life now an they do seek permanent order after this PCA

    1. You do realize do you Anonymous July 9, 2015 at 2:33 PM, that the post to which you are responding is four years old? Take a look at the date at the top. I am not even sure that you will look back again here to find a response, but if you are that sincere, and you see this … then comment once again, I will be sent notice and I will take you seriously and respond to you, and maybe with the help of a friends who knows more about these things than I do.

  11. You do realize do you Anonymous July 9, 2015 at 2:33 PM, that the post to which you are responding is four years old? Take a look at the date at the top. I am not even sure that you will look back again here to find a response, but if you are that sincere, and you see this … then comment once again, I will be sent notice and I will take you seriously and respond to you, and maybe with the help of a friends who knows more about these things than I do.

  12. I live in the USA in a small town in WV. They had me take a parental fitness eval and of course I failed but I got a second opinion and wow I passed that one I have also been approved as a foster parent and have had children placed in my home.. My husband and I are fighting for our grandchild and now 6 months later when they have nothing else to use against us they want my husband to undergo a parental fitness eval but this time we are ahead of the game we will go to one of ore choosing and pay out of pock for we believe that the ones that cps does is corrupt and a conflict of intrest


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