Mediation in Child Protection Matters
- Mediation: Child protection mediation (CPM) is a collaborative problem solving process among parents, lawyers, child protection professionals, and possibly others, in an effort to reach a consensus regarding how to resolve issues of concern when children are alleged to be abused, neglected or abandoned. CPM encourages constructive communication and information sharing and fosters an environment where genuine engagement and agreement is possible. In addition to reaching important decisions regarding children and families, CPM can lead to a greater sense of teamwork among all the involved participants and a greater understanding and ownership of resulting agreements.
Referral of Cases to Mediation
- Any petitioned child maltreatment case can be referred to mediation. The majority of referrals are made electronically in court when all parties are present at the initial hearing. Pre-trial cases are scheduled within 30 days of the initial hearing Monday thru Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The assumption is that early intervention will result in earlier disposition and resolution of issues that brought the family into the court system.
- Prepare for a two-hour mediation session: A key element of mediation, distinguishing it from other court processes, is that discussions proceed slowly, giving people an opportunity to ask questions, absorb information, and then process and react to the unfolding conversation.
- Parties as stated on the court order who fail to comply with mediation procedures will be reported to their respective supervisor, or the CCAN Office, or the Presiding Judge of Family Court.
Stages of CPM Mediation
- A. Adjudicatory and Dispositional phases of a case focus on whether there will be a judicial determination of child abuse or neglect. CPM at these stages provides an alternative to contested litigation as well as resolution of dispositional issues such as placement decisions, evaluations, treatment, services, etc. The CPM process can engage the family and assist parties in crafting service plans that are more family and case specific.
- B. Permanency Planning stage is an opportunity for a comprehensive discussion about the permanency goals available, and their impact on the family’s future. Additional topics may include but are not limited to transition planning for youth aging out of care, maintaining important relationships, and identifying community services available after the case is closed.
- C. Termination of Parental Rights/Relinquishment can be a very difficult and emotional topic. CPM helps by providing the space for a frank and deliberate conversation about the possible outcomes of parents’ decisions in any given direction. Topics may include preserving family relationships, minimizing emotional damage to children and so on.
- D. Adoption discussions in CPM can include pre-and post-adoption challenges, contested adoptions between two or more competing potential adoptive families, the need for post adoption services, a potential adoption disruption, and whether open adoption is possible. A post adoption contact agreement can be written whereby potential adoptive and birth families may enter into binding agreement for post-adoption contact.
ReportsThe following participant reports are designed to ensure appropriate preparation for mediation. All reports are due within two days of mediation. Reports created for mediation are not submitted to the court or court file.
- Attorney Mediation Statement Attorneys shall deliver one copy of their mediation statement (including statements for unavailable or unknown parents). Attorneys are encouraged to submit a written proposed case resolution. Attorneys representing incarcerated parties who wish to participate by telephone must contact CPM with identifying contact information e.g. PDID number or DCDC number within seventy-two hours of mediation. Attorneys may receive a copy of the social worker’s report from the CPM Program prior to mediation. Attorneys for the parents are responsible for preparing their clients prior to mediation e.g. assisting parents in the negotiation process, helping parents to understand their situation, including their legal rights, and help them to consider all of their options and legal consequences of any decisions made during mediation.
- Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) Mediation Report shall deliver six copies of either a mediation report or a family team meeting report. The report shall include family background, history, and a family service plan or a disposition report. During mediation the intake social worker is responsible for identifying and presenting the agency’s understanding of the family’s issues and concerns about the child and family.
- Proposed Case Resolution: The Assistant Attorney General shall deliver six copies of a proposed case resolution and bring the proposed resolution on a computer disk to the mediation. During mediation the AAG will present the legal issues in the case and represent the legal interest of CFSA.
Roles of Parties to the Mediation Info
Roles of Parties to the Mediationplease click here for information on roles of parties to the mediation