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This chapter will focus mainly on parenting capacity evaluations performed by psychologists, as these evaluations tend to be the most legally fraught type of assessment in a child protection proceeding. Often, assessments of parenting capacity inform important, difficult, and potentially contentious questions in the case, including whether to remove a child from a parent's custody or maintain a child in foster care; the frequency and conditions of parent-child visitation; recommended interventions to address parenting deficiencies or problems in the parent-child relationship; and whether and when termination of parental rights should be considered. Despite their central role in providing information that goes to the very heart of child protection matters, psychological evaluations of parenting capacity are frequently riddled with serious and often unacknowledged and unchallenged shortcomings. It is critical that attorneys for parents, children, and child welfare agencies better understand the nature, potential, and problems of these assessments.


Reproduced with permission. Copyright 2016 National Association of Counsel for Children, all rights reserved.

Originally published as Kay, Joshua. "Mental Health Evaluations in Child Welfare Settings." In Child Welfare Law and Practice, 3rd edition, edited by Donald N. Duquette, Vivek S. Sankaran, and Ann M. Haralambie, 45-68. Denver: National Association of Counsel for Children, 2016.