Family Mediation Nova Scotia, with support from the Nova Scotia Law Foundation is engaged in a one-year project to explore and develop strategies to advance mediation and Family Group Conferencing in child protection in Nova Scotia
The Mediation in Child Protection project involves first of all, inquiry into what is happening across Canada with respect to mediation and other forms of decision-making processes within child protection delivery systems and jurisdictions. Based on preliminary discussions and reviews of recent reports and studies it appears that there is a new wave of interest within the child protection community in exploring the potential benefits of mediation and family group conferencing in child welfare as a court alternative process. In Ontario for example, Bill 210, passed in 2006, provides that ” a society shall consider whether a prescribed method of alternative dispute resolution could assist in resolving any issue related to the child or a plan for the child’s care.” In British Columbia following the success of the Surrey Facilitated Planning Process, mediation, family group conferencing and several hybrids of traditional decision-making models are now practiced province-wide. Nova Scotia was the first province to include the provision of mediation in child protection legislation (CFSA, 1991). Unfortunately initial uptake was slow and mediation services today are grossly underutilized.
As part of the Child Protection Mediation project, we are interested in exploring various models of effective court alternative decision-making processes such as Mediation, Family Group Conferencing, (FGC) and Facilitated Planning. We want to know where and why barriers exist in using these approaches and we need to discover the bridges needed to increase our understanding of effective practice techniques and processes of the various models that provide better outcomes for children, youth and their families.
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