Statewide Juvenile Dependency Mediation Program
The purpose of the Statewide Juvenile Dependency Mediation Program (JDMP) is to improve system processing of dependency cases; to better engage families; thereby decreasing time to permanency and termination of parental rights (TPR). In so doing, it helps stabilize children's lives by getting them into safe, stable, and permanent homes in a timely manner consistent with the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.
Mediation has been used to enhance the quality of the dependency process by providing the parties an opportunity to enter into a discussion in which the parties voluntarily resolve the issues that brought the family into the dependency system and produce a written agreement in lieu of a contested hearing. Contested hearings tend to be especially painful for children, as they may be required to testify against their parents. Mediations allow children to avoid this trauma, as mediations tend to focus on the family's strengths. Benefits of mediation in child dependency cases include: improved outcomes for children from decreased time to permanency to improved well-being, enhanced parental engagement to safely reunify with the child, time and cost savings, and system efficiency. Dependency mediation has been identified by child welfare, the judiciary and the Community Improvement Councils (CIC) throughout the State as an intervention to ameliorate timeliness issues. Following extensive research to verify that mediation was an appropriate service, the Division of Child and Family Services and CIP agreed that this was indeed a viable, evidence-based best practice to help the children move into a permanent home situation in a more timely manner. It finds solutions that offer better outcomes for children and a quicker path to permanency for the child outside the litigious and often traumatizing environment of the courtroom.
Jeanette "Jae" Barrick, Esq.
Juvenile Dependency Mediation Program Administrator