Mediation is a nonadversarial, voluntary process that allows the involved parties to work with a neutral third party to come to agreement on a permanency decision in the best interests of the child. Mediation generally can help the parties avoid adversarial court hearings, and parties are more invested in the outcome because they participated in the decision making.
Mediation parties may include birth parents, foster/adoptive parents, relatives, the child, the agency worker, attorneys, and others. Mediations can be court based or may take place at other, more neutral locations.
About the Child Welfare Mediation Program
Utah Courts (2017)
Highlights Utah's child welfare mediation program, which works to serve the best interests of the child while supporting parents, serves to build cooperation among stakeholders in each case, and aims to streamline the child welfare process in the courts.
Child Protection Mediation in Michigan (PDF - 1,300 KB)
Kierkus & Johnson (2019)
Examines child protection mediation in Michigan to determine if it is effective at achieving permanency outcomes as compared to the traditional child protective court process. The results showed that using child protection mediation, permanency was achieved faster, the cases that used it were almost twice as likely to close a case, and the most common outcome was reunification with parents.
Children's Court Mediation
New Mexico Courts
Describes the children's court mediation program in New Mexico, which works in cases of child abuse and neglect and termination of parental rights. A trained professional mediator works with parents, attorneys, and other parties to assist in reaching agreements on placement, visitation, treatment, and permanency.
Child Welfare Mediation: Creating Solutions Together (PDF - 326 KB)
New Jersey Judiciary (2017)
Presents information on child welfare mediation including about when mediation occurs, mediation costs, participants in the mediation process, what happens at mediation, the role of the mediator, and more.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dependency Court Mediation
Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida (2019)
Provides answers to frequently asked questions about dependency court mediation in Florida. The website covers how mediation helps parents and children, who needs to be present during mediation, what to expect for mediation, and more.
Juvenile Dependency Mediation
The Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco
Outlines mediation services provided in juvenile dependency cases in San Francisco, California. The website details what participants should expect during and after mediation.
Outcome Evaluation of the Second Judicial District Court's Dependency Mediation Program (Washoe County, Nevada) (PDF - 1,501 KB)
Siegel, Ganasarahjah, Gatowski, Sickmund, & Devault (2017)
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
Presents an evaluation of the impacts of a dependency mediation program in Nevada. The findings showed that mediated cases were more likely to result in reunification when compared with nonmediated cases, fathers who participated in mediation were more likely to appear in court, and that mediation can speed up case processing and improve overall outcomes in dependency cases.
Permanency Planning Mediation
North American Council on Adoptable Children (2014)
Explores permanency planning mediation, which occurs during the period between when the court ends reunification services for a child in foster care and when any court ruling regarding termination of parental rights has been made. During this time, mediation techniques can help the parties involved move away from adversarial nature of the child welfare system and focus on the best interests of the child(ren) involved.