What is Juvenile Dependency Mediation?
Juvenile Dependency Mediation is a meeting with mediators who try to help people talk about disagreements related to the safety and well being of their children. The meeting is informal, but structured.
Parents, guardians, relatives, children, foster-parents, social workers, lawyers or child advocates can use mediation to:
- Clear up misunderstandings?
- Discuss concerns, and
- Work out plans to improve a situation
The sessions usually last 2-1/2 to 3 hours. We schedule mediations at a time that is convenient for all participants. They can be during the day or evening. Mediation is voluntary, free and confidential.
When can Juvenile Dependency Mediation be Helpful?
Mediation can help with many types of conflicts:
- Visitation plans
- Deciding which family member will care for a child
- Guardianship issues
- Kinship adoption
- Family conflicts
- Sibling visitation
- Parent-child conflicts
- Post-adoption contact agreements
- Parent-teen disputes
- Parenting conflicts
- Child’s educational or medical issues
- Disagreements between children/youth and foster parents
- Difficult communication issues between a parent and a social worker.
- Issues between a social worker and a child advocate.
How to get ready for Mediation?
Before scheduling the mediation, the participants talk to the Program Manager.
The Program Manager explains the mediation process and the parties talk about the issues they want to discuss during mediation.
Before you talk to the Program Manager, think about these questions:
- What specific problems do you want to discuss in mediation?
- Who should be at the session?
- What outcome are you hoping for?
- What ideas or suggestions do you have that will help to resolve the conflict?
- What will best meet the child’s needs?
- What can family members do to meet each child’s needs?
- What can the Human Services Agency do to meet each child’s needs?
- How can each parent create a safe environment for their children?
- How can relationships be improved?
- Other issues you want to talk about:
What is mediation?
Mediation is a meeting with two mediators who try to help people talk about disagreements and work them out. The meeting is informal, but structured. The mediators do not take sides or make decisions for you.
Who goes to the mediation?
The mediators encourage good communication. They help people explore and negotiate their own solutions. If the parties can agree on a solution, the mediator can put the agreement in writing.
Who goes to the mediation?
Usually, just the people in conflict and the mediators go to the mediation. But if the parties agree, other people can go, too.
How much does it cost?
Juvenile dependency mediation is free.
Where is the mediation held?
The mediations take place in a neutral location, like a conference room, in a library, community center or the mediation office. The program manager will let you know the location.
When are mediations scheduled?
We schedule mediations at a time that is convenient for all participants. The mediation can be during the day or in the evening.
How long does each mediation last?
Mediations last as long as you need to talk, but are generally limited to 2½ -3 hours per session. We will ask you to set aside three hours.
Is mediation confidential?
Yes. Everything said in mediation is confidential. But, if the mediators learn of child abuse or threats of physical harm to others, they will report this to the program. The program can report this information to other agencies or individuals.
Who are the mediators?
The mediators are volunteers with the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center. They are trained and experienced in mediation.
Will the mediators make decisions for us?
No. The mediators are not acting as judges or decision makers. They will try to help you make your own decisions so you can come to an agreement.
Is mediation the same as therapy or counseling?
No. Mediation is not counseling or therapy. Mediators help people to communicate better so that they can find solutions to specific problems. The mediators help the participants to work together. They may acknowledge your feelings and emotions but they will encourage you to focus on solutions and the future.
How many mediations will it take to resolve a conflict?
It usually takes one session, but parties can request an additional session if it will be helpful to them.
What if I do not feel safe meeting with the other person in mediation?
Before you go to your first mediation, the program manager will talk about safety. If you do not feel safe being in the same room with another participant, ask the program manager about other ways of mediating.
Can we have a mediation in Spanish or any other language?
When necessary, an interpreter can sometimes be provided to help with other languages. Ask the program manager about how to set this up.
Are there rules we have to follow in mediation?
Yes. To start with, each person must agree to:
- Speak respectfully to the other participants
- Not talk when someone else is talking, and
- Let the mediators guide the mediation.
You can set other rules at the beginning of your mediation or when you schedule your first mediation.
Who can make a referral to the mediation program?
The Juvenile Court Judge makes referrals to mediation; however social workers, lawyers, child advocate, and family members may request that the court refer them to mediation.
Does the social worker who refers us have to go to the mediation?
No. Sometimes the social worker comes to the first half-hour of a mediation to clarify issues that you will talk about. But, they do not have to come.
How soon after referral will the mediation take place?
The mediation will be set for a time when all participants can attend and when the mediators are available. This may take 2-4 weeks to set up.
Do I have to talk to the Program Manager?
Yes. All participants have to talk to the program manager before we schedule your mediation. The program manager will tell you more about mediation and ask you about the issues you want to discuss.
Do I have to read anything before mediation?
Yes. You will get a confirmation letter that tells you the date, time, and place of the meeting. You will also get information about your mediation and a copy of the “Confidentiality Agreement.”
The mediator will ask you to sign the Confidentiality Agreement at the beginning of your mediation.
What happens if I have to change my mediation appointment?
Please call the program manager as soon as you can. We have to let the other participants and the mediators know of the change in plans. Because so many people are involved in setting up a mediation, it can take several weeks to get a new appointment.