Questions in an assessment order

Each care matter presents the court with different specific problems to resolve, with particular information needed to help make decisions.

The issues to be addressed in the Assessment Order should be pertinent to these problems. However, most of the problems have similar themes.

The questions to be addressed by the clinic may be modelled on a few basic questions and made relevant for each individual case. They should relate to an agreed case summary which will explain why the assessment is necessary (s.56). These models are organised below.

It is important to limit the number of questions to no more than ten, and to make them broad enough to allow the clinician freedom to discover the most relevant information for each case. 

It is best to consolidate questions about a sibling group in the one Assessment Order (with separate sections for issues specific for each child, if necessary) rather than copy/paste questions for each sibling in separate application orders.

Parenting capacity/responsibility

  • What are the parents’ current and potential abilities to prioritise and meet the specific developmental needs (including care and protection) of their children?
  • If the parents/caregivers suffer from (specify, e.g., alcohol or other drug dependence, domestic violence, mental health, personality disorder and/or intellectual or other disabilities), to what extent do any such problems impair their parenting capacity?
  • What are the parents or caregivers’ willingness and capacity to respond to any necessary therapeutic interventions needed to resolve any of the above problems?

Parent/ Caregiver – Child Relationships

[These include, but are broader than, bonding (parents’ commitment and responsiveness to their offspring) and attachment (children’s emotional ties to their parents)]

  • Describe the quality of the relationships between the child and the child’s mother/ father/ siblings/ grandparents/ other significant persons (who must be parties to the Assessment Order).
  • What is the impact of the child’s separation from his/ her parent/ carer?

Children and young persons’ individual characteristics, needs and wishes

  • What are the child’s individual characteristics and needs (specify, e.g., mental health, an understanding of current problem behaviour, and cognitive, adaptive, emotional, social and other individual developmental needs), particularly in relation to experiences alleged (specify, e.g., abuse/ neglect/ loss/ grief)?
  • What supports and interventions might the child or young person need to assist them to resolve any of the above problems? How well might the (specify) mother/ father/ siblings/ grandparents/ significant others be able to support or respond to these needs?
  • What are the child’s wishes in relation to the available placement/ contact/ other options? How much weight should be placed on these wishes?

Suggestions for steps to achieve desired outcomes

  • What long-term placement, restoration plans, contact visits, do you recommend (give reasons)?
  • What if any counselling, treatment, compliance with urinalysis or supports do you recommend?
  • What supports and interventions are needed to assist the child or young person to maintain attachments, or achieve meaningful connections, with her/ his (specify) mother/ father/ siblings/ grandparents/ carers/ significant others?

After the Issues to be Addressed section, under the heading Reasons, please explain how the assessment will assist the court to make an informed decision.

After the Issues to be Addressed section, under the heading Reasons, please explain how the assessment will assist the court to make an informed decision.

Last updated Friday 23rd February 2024