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It is widely acknowledged that there are significant benefits when statutory child protection agencies and parents are able to engage cooperatively with one another to ensure the well-being of children. Despite promising innovations there are on-going concerns that the current child protection model alienates and confuses many parents. It is hypothesised that a significant reason for this is that statutory agencies have become reliant on formalistic assessment, and as a consequence interactions with parents have become dominated by a focus on assessment compliance. A qualitative study of 40 parents who had recently been investigated in Australia is reported. The analysis suggests that many parents find characteristics of assessment processes intrusive and that this undermines engagement. It is concluded that there should be greater debate about the role that assessment plays in child protection practice. Nathan is a Fellow at RegNet. Previously he has held appointments as a Lecturer at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. He is currently working on an ARC funded project that explores the potential to use responsive regulation as a means to address child protection concerns through building local community capacity. This project explores the emotional reactivity of parents to interventions by child protection services and their impact on future capacity to care. The importance of institutions that are responsive to the good will of parents, build on care networks within communities, are reintegrative, and encourage positive emotional dynamics will be explored.