March 24, 2023

What is juvenile dependency mediation?

Juvenile dependency mediation is a meeting with mediators. Usually two mediators will be present. The mediators try to help people talk about disagreements about the safety and well-being of their children. The meeting is informal but organized.

The mediators do not take sides or make decisions for you. 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.

Many people can use mediation, including:

  • parents,
  • guardians,
  • relatives,
  • children,
  • foster parents,
  • social workers,
  • lawyers, or
  • child advocates.

They can use mediation to:

  • clear up misunderstandings,
  • discuss concerns, and
  • work out plans to improve a situation.

Mediation is voluntary, free, and confidential.


When can mediation be helpful?

When can mediation be helpful?

  • 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 do I get ready for mediation?

Before scheduling the mediation, the participants talk to a mediator to learn about the mediation process. The parties also talk about the issues they want to discuss during mediation.

Before you talk to the mediator, 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 the participants improve their relationships?
  • What other issues do you want to talk about?


Who goes to the mediation?

Usually, only 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 do the mediations take place?

The mediations take place in a neutral location, like a:

  • conference room,
  • library,
  • community center, or
  • mediation office.


When do the mediations take place?

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 usually last 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 have special training and experience 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 communicate better so that they can find solutions to problems. The mediators help the participants 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 another 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 mediation 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 to mediate.


Can we have a mediation in Spanish or any other language?

If needed, the program may provide an interpreter to help with another language. Ask the mediation 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. But social workers, lawyers, child advocates, and family members may ask the court to 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 take place when all participants can attend, and the mediators are available. This may take 2-4 weeks to set up.


Will I get any information before the 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?

Call the program 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.


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