Parental Capacity Assessments (PCA)

The Bessborough Centre provides an expert Parenting Capacity Assessment service which is used to assist professionals with decision making in relation to particular parents’ abilities to parent their child(ren) on an on-going basis.

Uniquely, we use a multi-disciplinary approach combining a range of best practice psycho-social frameworks to provide comprehensive parenting assessments that allow for strategic planning & interventions for families and court decisions.

When is a PCA necessary?

Families are referred for a PCA when the professionals involved with the family:

  • are unsure of a parent’s capacity.
  • have serious concerns but limited evidence to reach a definite decision about the long term future of the child(ren).
  • believe there is significant risk but there is potential for change and for the family to remain together.

What is involved?

PCAs are carried out either on a residential basis over approximately 12 weeks or non-residentially in the community.

When a PCA is community based, parents are observed over a number of visits in their own home with their children or in access/contact facilities.

Uniqueness of the Assessments

The Bessborough Centre is committed to providing a first class service and believe that the components of our uniqueness include:

  • multidisciplinary approach with both the psychological profiling of the families and frequent behavioural observations
  • Multiple observations over time
  • Residential or Community based
  • Efficient and timely approach
  • Independent
  • Comprehensive recommendations
  • Ongoing interventions when appropriate
  • Providing expert court witness and reports

Who can request a PCA?

PCAs are often requested by social workers, child protection teams, Guardian Ad Litem or Court services. The fee for the service can be discussed with the Centre, however, as the Centre is a not-for-profit organisation its fee structure serves only to cover the costs involved.

If the bessborough centre PCA team can be of any assistance in defining your needs do not hesitate to contact our  clinical psychologist Dr Calem De Burca at