Child Welfare Mediation
Child Welfare Mediation is a family focused, strength based program offered at the discretion of the County Attorney’s Office. The primary focus is, but not limited to, resolving family issues as they relate to child abuse/neglect. This service is provided in an effort to divert intake referrals from becoming juvenile court cases. The County Attorney’s Office collaborates with the Department of Human Services, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), local schools along with various other agencies in an effort to keep families out of court.
Once the decision is made to divert a case to the Child Welfare Mediation program, the involved family must agree to attend for a successful outcome. The County Attorney’s Office makes arrangements with a mediator who acts as a neutral third party facilitating the process. All sessions are confidential and are at no expense to the families. The Department of Human Services can provide a variety of services to address the concerns that brought the family to the mediation. And most importantly, all of the professionals who attend the mediation sessions share the same goal – ensure the safety and welfare of the child(ren).
This approach gives parents and families an opportunity to speak freely and become part of the solution to addressing their family’s needs. If a parent is desirous of having an attorney present at any of the sessions, they may do so. However, representation is not required. The County Attorney’s Office encourages families to bring as many family members, friends and any other resources that will assist them in a successful outcome.
Child Welfare Mediation engages families to resolve issues without being before a judge. Families are not court ordered to attend and can refuse to participate in this program with the understanding that their refusal or otherwise failure to address their issues on an informal basis could result in the filing of a petition.