DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROGRAM
Mediation is an opportunity for parents involved in Child Welfare/Dependency cases to work together with other parties to reach agreements on case related issues. While working together with a trained mediator in a voluntary, informal, and confidential setting, the involved parties mediate issues that arise during the course of a dependency case and work towards agreements that are in the best interests of children. Referrals can be made during court hearings by the judge, or by any person completing a self-referral request form. If a session is requested outside of a court hearing, all the people requested to participate in the session must agree to have the session scheduled. Below are brief descriptions of types of sessions conducted by the Courtís mediators.
- Facilitated Settlement Conferences: In these sessions, the mediator facilitates a discussion on whether or not a dependency exists. The parties, not the mediator, determine if it can be settled without a trial or if the matter will proceed to trial. If resolution is reached, disposition (firming up ongoing placement, visitation, and service issues) may also be resolved during the session.
- Mediation Sessions: A mediation session can be used for any ongoing case issues such as placement, services, visitation, and case plans goals. The mediators also mediate issues of legal decision-making and parenting time for family law cases that have been consolidated with the dependency case. Mediation can also be conducted.
- Reunification at Risk Sessions: These sessions are intended to provide an opportunity for a confidential, candid discussion of permanency options in cases in which reunification with a parent appears to be at risk. The discussion addresses the barriers to reunification, and possibilities for overcoming them. It also invites the parent to join the other parties in the case in identifying family or kin that could provide a permanent home for the children if efforts towards reunification are unsuccessful. These sessions can be set at any point in a dependency case.
- Facilitated Case Conferences: These sessions specifically address severance and permanent guardianship related matters. In these sessions, the mediator facilitates a discussion on the possibilities of resolving this issue without a trial. The parties, not the mediator, determine if it can be settled without a trial or if the matter will proceed to trial.
For additional information, please contact the Supervisor of the Mediation Program at 520-724-2274.