How to open a family support and parental counselling centre

A Family Support and Parental Counselling Centre (CAFAP) is a support service for families under psychosocial risk with children and adolescents, working towards the development of parental, personal and social skills.

Learn here which steps to follow to open a CAFAP.

The licences you need

Licence for use

The licence for use (or construction licence) is a general validation of the property as to the conditions, location, functional suitability and compliance with fire safety rules and health and hygiene standards.
This licence can be applied for in the competent local city council.

Consult the step by step guide for more information.

Operating Licence

The operating licence is the process that legally validates your CAFAP.
It is granted after an inspection that assesses the adequacy of human resources, the draft of internal regulations, the existence of equipment and facilities appropriate to the activity, the applicant's contributory good standing and the suitability of all those involved. 

Licensing applications can be made on this portal.

How to open a CAFAP step by step

Step 1: Develop a business plan

The business plan is not mandatory, but it is essential for your project to be successful. Don’t forget to include:

  • Analysis of the local needs
  • To decide on the legal nature (company, association, IPSS)
  • Services provided
  • Marketing strategy and promotion
  • Financial Plan - costs and revenues
  • Human resources
  • Space plan
  • Main risks


Step 2: Premises and Licence for use

The CAFAP can operate on owned or rented property and always requires a licence for use. Submit the request to the competent city council, which, in its turn, will involve the necessary entities:

  • Social Security Institute
  • National Civil Protection Authority
  • Competent health authority

This inspection evaluates:

  • Conditions and location of the establishment
  • Functional suitability of the premises
  • Compliance with fire safety rules
  • Compliance with the hygiene and health standards

The waiting time between the inspection request and the approval may take up to 45 days, corresponding to 15 days until the inspection plus 30 days for the approval.

Equipment specific to the activity may be added after this inspection.


Step 3: Internal Regulation

The internal regulation shall be binding and shall include:

  • Conditions for admission of users;
  • Care and services to be provided;
  • Rights and duties;
  • Operating hours;
  • Pricing or criteria for determining family co-participations.


Step 4: Human Resources

The hiring of professionals for a CAFAP follows clear and mandatory rules for obtaining the operating licence. At the bottom of this page you will find an Administrative Decree on the Operation of CAFAP that explains how to build your team.

Before applying for the licence, you need to have a staff plan, with the characteristics of each professional.

It is advisable that, before the licensing request, the whole recruitment process is already done, with pre-agreement of the contract.

When applying for licensing, you should submit the specific criminal record for working with children for all professionals who interact with the users.

Request the criminal record


Step 5: Beginning the Activity

The licensing application must be carried out on behalf of the company or management entity, and it is therefore necessary for it to be duly regulated at the time of the application.

Create your company here

Open your association here

Open your IPSS here


Step 6: Request of the Operating Licence

The Request of the Operating Licence can be submitted online or in person in the district Social Security centres.
The waiting time between the inspection request and the approval may take up to 45 days, corresponding to 15 days until the inspection plus 30 days for the approval.
The following documents are required to submit this request:

  • Copy of the applicants’ citizen card
  • Copy of the tax identification card;
  • Simple extract of the entries’ content in force in the commercial registry or the access code to the respective permanent certificate
    Copy of the articles of association in the case of an IPSS
  • Criminal record certificate
  • Statement of the applicant(s)' contribution status or authorisation for the competent authorities to consult it
  • Proof of ownership of the premises or lease agreement
  • Licence or authorization for use (see step 2)
  • Plan of staff with their academic qualifications and functional content
  • Draft of the contract to be entered with the users
  • Franchising documents, if applicable

All the detailed information on how to open a CAARPD is available in the Practical Guide for the Licensing of the Social Support Establishments Activity


The rates in force can be consulted on the Social Security portal.


Step 7: Insurance and Complaints Book

The fire insurance (for building units and common parts of buildings on horizontal property) and the complaints book are mandatory. Consult the Complaints Book Explanatory Guide



Administrative Decree no. 139/2013
Decree-Law no. 99/2011
Decree-Law no. 555/99

Responsible Entity


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