Child Welfare Mediation Program
About the Child Welfare Mediation Program
The purpose of the Child Welfare Mediation Program ("Program") is to further the juvenile court's mission to serve the best interests of the child, while supporting parents' rights, responsibilities, and participation. The Program also serves to build cooperation among child welfare constituents and streamline the child welfare process in the courts.
The Program provides an alternative to traditional litigation in child welfare matters. Specifically, it responds quickly to children and families' needs and offers parties the opportunity to create mutually satisfactory solutions.
The Child Welfare Mediation Program is currently available state-wide in all eight judicial districts.
Definition of Child Welfare Mediation
Child Welfare Mediation involves the use of a skilled and unbiased third party to assist families, agencies, and attorneys in reaching a mutually acceptable resolution regarding child welfare and placement issues. The mediator has no decision-making power and does not make recommendations as to the outcome of the case. In mediation, participants attempt to resolve the issues cooperatively before the case goes to trial. Mediation puts the decision-making power in the hands of the parties involved.
Benefits of a Court-Based Child Welfare Mediation Program (1)
- Builds cooperation among child welfare constituents
- Reduces adversarial confrontations and creates a common goal for participants.
- Creates more satisfactory, durable agreements
- Facilitates a full exchange of the most current case information, clarifying the roles and responsibilities of each of the participants
- Encourages the accountability of family members and professionals interacting with the family
- Preserves the dignity and involvement of family members, resulting in less alienation from the court process
- Provides parents with information on the court process, the workings of the system, participant interests/positions and available services
- Increases the family's satisfaction with the court process and outcomes
- Services are implemented sooner in cases that are mediated
- Families are more likely to keep their agreements/stick to the service plan following a mediation
- Helps expedite the court process (shelter to final disposition)
- Reduces in-court time and the number of appeals
- 908 cases were referred to the mediation program from across the state.
- Eighty-three percent (83%) of the cases mediated were resolved without going to trial.
- Another seven percent (7%) achieved partial agreements or progress toward resolution.