Care & Contact Assessments are statutory investigations determining the best care and contact arrangements between a child/ren and all co-holders of parental rights. Social workers or other forensic practitioners are qualified to conduct Care & Contact Assessments at the request of the court. Care & Contact Assessments are thorough reports considering the views, experiences, and recommendations of the child/ren concerned, their parents, siblings, extended family, educators, peers, and any other individuals who are able to provide collateral information.
In the context of family law and specifically divorce matters, a Care and Contact Assessment is conducted to determine in whose primary care a minor child/ren should be placed and to determine what arrangements pertaining to the care of the child/ren should be put in place to protect the best interests of the minor child, as envisaged in the Children’s Act 38 of 2005.
With reference to the Children’s Act 38 of 2005, the following principles apply:
- The Best Interest of the Child: In all matters concerning the care, protection, and well-being of a child the standard that the child’s best interest is of paramount importance, must be applied.
- Child Participation: Every child that is of such an age, maturity, and stage of development has the right to participate in any matter concerning him/her.
- Family Preservation: The promotion of the family throughout the renegotiation of family structure remains of paramount importance.
- Care of the Child;
- A suitable place to live.
A Care and Contact Assessment can involve the following:
- Psycho-daignostic assessment of the child/ren;
- Psychological profiling of the parents/caregivers;
- Parenting Capacity assessment of the parents/caregivers; and
- Home visits
A Care & Contact Assessment determines a person’s ability to fulfill the needs of the children concerned as best they can within their means. Caregivers are not limited to biological parents but to other invested parties, namely foster parents, adoptive parents, grandparents, and other extended family members. Any party interested in the wellbeing of the child may apply to be a legal caregiver of the child or for a Care & Contact Assessment at the Children’s Court.
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Author – Kate Bailey – Hill