Parenting Capacity Assessments
Parenting Capacity Assessments (PCA) are comprehensive evaluations that identify a parent's or caregiver's overall ability to appropriately care for children and includes an objective measurement of the adult's parenting skills.
All parenting capacity evaluations are conducted by Dr. Mills. He is a registered clinical psychologist and a Diplomate in Clinical Psychology and Psychoanalysis with the American Board of Professional Psychology, which is a recognition and certification of advanced competence far above the credentialing standard required in Ontario. It is the highest credential any practicing psychologist can achieve in North America. Dr. Mills has been a practicing clinician and consultant for the past two decades with a wealth of experience specializing in the assessment and treatment of childhood, adolescent, and adult psychopathology. He is also an expert in assessing attachment processes between parents and children and treating attachment disruptions, which is the subject matter of his ninth book, Treating Attachment Pathology.
Uniform Parenting Evaluation Procedure
Dr. Mills follows an impartial, non-biased, uniform assessment procedure and serves the regional Children's Aid Societies, individual parents who are in need of parenting capacity assessments, and those in court and criminal proceedings.
What distinguishes Dr. Mills' approach from typical parenting capacity assessments performed by other mental health professionals is the depth and thoroughness of his evaluation procedure. He follows a uniform evaluation protocol where each identified caregiver is:
Given a battery of psychological and cognitive tests
Determines the quality of parenting capacity for each identified parent or caregiver
Undergoes an attachment assessment with each child and parent in both office and home observations on multiple occasions
Conducts an assessment of each child
Provides a detailed report on the psychological and cognitive profile of each parent
Addresses parent-child and relevant family dynamics
Evaluates the interrelationships among each of the family members in question
Provides attachment observation results
Gives a clinical risk profile
Specifies clear, decisive, and unambiguous recommendations regarding the referral questions, parenting strengths and deficits, and provides specific direction (when requested) that addresses the needs of identified agencies, individuals, or court goals
The estimated time for the completion of most assessments range from 30-50 hours, although this can vary depending on the number of children, the extent of psychological testing required, and the number of collateral sources contacted. The OPA hourly rate is $225.00 for any time or activity spent on the case. A retainer is required in the amount of $5,000.00 before the assessment is initiated. There will be a request for an additional retainer for anticipated work to complete the assessment when the original retainer runs out. Any unused portion of the retainer will be returned if the assessment is completed or terminated prior to that point. If the assessment is aborted or terminated, there will be an administrative cost of $300. Sec. 54 assessments are a flat rate of $5000 per person identified to undergo a psychological or PCA assessment and $1500 for each child.
Administrative Steps that must be Followed
Mills Psychology (Dr Jon Mills & Scott Gosse) must be appointed by the courts and listed on order to conduct Sec. 54, Psychological Assessments or Parenting Capacity Assessment. The court order must specifically appoint "Mills Psychology (Dr Jon Mills & Scott Gosse)."
A copy of the court order must be sent to our offices along with the retainer.
A complete copy of all relevant documents pertaining to the case should be sent by mail in hard copy (no electronic files, CD's or faxes are accepted).
The case file should contain (a) Table of Contents, and (b) Summary of the case, highlighting the parties involved and the history of their involvement with the CAS.
A list of Referral Questions should be included.
Include a list of any collateral contacts that are either court ordered, or who are seen to be able to provide essential information to the case. This includes health professionals, such as physicians, psychiatrists, therapists, etc.
The CAS should obtained written consent from the named parents involved to have the relevant clinical notes and records obtained, and have such medical records sent by mail to our offices. This also applies to police and legal records for the parties, as applicable.
Steps All Parents and Counsel Must Follow
In order to prevent any perceived notion of bias or manipulation from either party, Mills Psychology must be retained. Mills Psychology must be appointed by the Courts to conduct a formal PCA or psychological (or Sec. 54) assessment. Dr. Mills' CV detailing his credentials and qualifications may be downloaded by visiting our About Staff page. The following conditions apply:
Mills Psychology (Dr Jon Mills & Scott Gosse) must be appointed by the Courts.
A $5,000 retainer must be received before the assessment will be initiated.
There will be no discussion with legal counsel or parents prior to our appointment in order to prevent perceived bias or manipulation by either party.
A detailed written agreement specifying the roles, parameters, and referral questions must be agreed upon by all parties involved prior to the first initial meeting.
Parents/guardians will be asked to review and sign an informed consent on the terms of the assessment during the initial meeting.
Dr. Mills and his staff will meet with the parents, children, identified personnel, conduct a file review, and perform collateral background checks to determine appropriate recommendations.
A Psychological Report will be prepared detailing relevant findings and recommendations.
Assessments begin on a first-come, first-served basis from the time the completed intake questionnaires and the retainer are received from both parents. Assessments usually take 2-3 months to complete once initiated.
There is no OHIP coverage for this type of service, but parties can claim workplace insurance coverage for any members of the family covered under their extended health insurance plan. All workplace insurance plans vary, so each party will need to clarify how much coverage per family member is covered under their plan in each calendar year. Usually both parents and children would have some coverage if they are not self-employed. Legal Aid is not accepted, primarily because the certificates granted do not allow for sufficient hours to conduct the assessment protocol provided.
Dr. Mills does not speak to parents or legal counsel prior to being retained in order to prevent any possibility of manipulation or perceived bias from any party involved in the case. He has conducted PCAs and Custody & Access assessments for the past 10 years for the public, the courts, and the regional Children's Aid Societies and is only interested in conducting such assessments free from obstruction, deception, or politics. By not talking to lawyers or parents prior to being court appointed and retained, Dr. Mills ensures that all parties cannot "feel out" the assessor in order to select someone favorable or well-suited to their particular position. He has been an expert witness in both family and criminal court in the regions of Durham, the GTA, and Hamilton, and shows no preference or favoritism for his clientele.
Information that is not provided to lawyers and parents is the following:
No previous names or number of cases Dr. Mills has assessed will be revealed
No sample reports are given out for review
Dr. Mills does not conduct critiques of previous PCAs or C & A Reports conducted by other assessors