Child Welfare Mediation

Evidence-Based Practice, Research, and Reports

  • Child Protection Mediation in Texas: Past, Present, and Future  
    The Texas Supreme Court has charged the Permanent Judicial Commission on Children, Youth & Families to identify and assess needs for courts to be more effective in achieving child-welfare outcomes. The Court has noted that mediation is underutilized to resolve child protection cases, notwithstanding its track record of improving the administration of justice for children. To assist the Commission in its efforts, the Mediation Clinic at the University Of Texas School Of Law prepared this report on mediation in child protection cases in Texas. This report looks both at past efforts to develop and implement child protection mediation programs in Texas and at current practices used in their courts. They also look outside of Texas for research into effective use of mediation in child protection cases. (2010)
  • Mediation in Child Protection Cases: An Evaluation of the Washington, D.C. Family Court Child Protection Mediation Program
    The Permanency Planning for Children Department of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges conducted an evaluation of the child protection mediation program designed and implemented by the Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division, Superior Court of the District of Columbia. This evaluation studied case outcomes for child abuse and neglect cases that were randomly assigned to mediation (research group) and a comparison group of cases (control group) that were handled through the traditional hearing process and did not receive mediation. The evaluation is based on an examination of 200 cases randomly referred to mediation between January 1, 2002 and September 30, 2002, and 200 cases randomly drawn from those cases not referred to mediation during the same timeframe. (2005)

Resources & Publications

  • Give Peace a Chance: A Guide to Mediating Child Welfare Cases
    This article in Children’s Rights (Vol. 13, Issue 2) presents a mediation case in Queens County, New York that illustrates the benefits of mediation, discusses how child welfare mediation can be a powerful tool for cutting through bureaucratic red tape and unearthing hidden options, explains why it works, and describes characteristics of mediators.  (Winter 2011)
  • Family Group Conferencing Child Protection Mediation: Essential Tools for Prioritizing Family Engagement in Child Welfare Cases   
    Family group conferencing (FGC) and child protection mediation maximize family engagement in child welfare cases by prioritizing families’ roles in discussions and decisions. This article by Kelly Browe Olson examines how FGC helps professionals to focus on family and community strengths, encourages family engagement, and provides targeted case plans for families and timely, permanent placements for children. It explores how courts and agencies use these interventions to empower families to contribute to resolutions in ways that are not possible in traditional litigation processes. These complementary processes help children and families by providing forums where families are allowed to make informed choices and take an active role in creating plans for their future. (2009)
  • Mediation in Child Welfare
    This information sheet, authored by Della Knoke and published by Centres of Excellence for Children’s Well-Being, describes the use of mediation in child welfare and summarizes key findings of evaluations that have been conducted in a number of areas across Canada and the United States. (2009)
  • Creative Conflict Resolution for Dependency Cases
    This article is from Future Trends in State Courts 2007, from the National Center for State Courts. It reviews the historical basis for conflict resolution of cases in dependency courts, the current conditions, and probable future, and analyzes the impact of public policy. (2007)
  • Information Packet: Child Welfare Mediation
    Child welfare mediation refers to the increasingly accepted practice of involving trained, neutral, third-party mediators in child abuse and neglect cases as a means of resolving disputes and expediting permanency for children in foster care. This NRCPFC Information Packet by Kathleen Stack offers a Child Mediation Summary, Fact Sheet, Bibliography, Legislative Review, Best Practice Tips, Model Programs, and Web Resources. (2003)
  • Mediation: Child Protection Mediation
    Mediation has long been used in many types of litigation, including small claims, divorce, child custody, employment, commercial, tort, and environmental disputes. In recent years, mediation has been used to help resolve issues in cases of child abuse or neglect. This type of mediation is often referred to as child protection or dependency mediation. Mediation is used at virtually every stage of litigation in these cases, including prior to adjudication, review, permanency planning, and termination of parental rights hearings. This resource from the National Center for State Courts provides an understanding of what mediation is, what a mediation meeting should look like, and the expected benefits/outcomes. (2000)

Resources from the States

  • Connecticut: Child Protection Mediation
    The Connecticut Child protection mediation is a voluntary program that tries to solve problems without taking sides. The program is designed to add to Order of Temporary Custody Neglect Termination of Parental Rights and other types of case conferences involved with child protection. This pamphlet by the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, Division of Superior Court Operations answers the following five questions: What is Child Protection Mediation?; Who are the Mediators?; What Types of Cases may be Referred?; How is a Case Referred?;  and, What Happens After the Mediation Session?. (2008)
  • Michigan: Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program: The Michigan Experience
    This article from the Michigan Child Welfare Law Journal provides a retrospective look at the first three years of Michigan's Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot (PPMP) Program (child protection mediation) in seven Michigan pilot program sites. It concludes that mediation for child protection cases has been successfully implemented in Michigan. (2007)
  • New Jersey: Child Welfare Mediation Program Procedures Manual and Forms
    The New Jersey Judicial Family Division has developed this procedure manual which describes policies and procedures for referring cases to mediation. This manual also details the case processing steps of the mediation program to assist judges and staff in implementing the program. (2009)
  • New Mexico: Mediation
    A guide for parents and guardians about participating in mediation. Also available in Spanish.
  • Utah: Child Welfare Mediation Best Practices
    The purpose of the Child Welfare Mediation Program (“Program”) is to further the Juvenile Court’s mission to serve the best interests of the child, while supporting parents’ rights, responsibilities, and participation. The Program also serves to build cooperation among child welfare constituents and streamline the child welfare process in the courts. This resource helps outline best practice methods for working with mediation related cases. (2010)

Trainings & Curricula

  • Guidelines for Child Protection Mediation
    Child protection mediation (CPM) is a collaborative problem solving process involving an impartial and neutral person who facilitates constructive negotiation and communication among parents, lawyers, child protection professionals, and possibly others, in an effort to reach a consensus regarding how to resolve issues of concern when children are alleged to be abused, neglected or abandoned. This guide by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts offers a summary of Child Protection Mediation, its benefits, desired outcomes, and procedures for those involved in the mediation process. (2012)
  • Training for Mediators in Child Welfare:  A Framework
    Quality training for mediators working in child welfare is critical for the initial implementation of a program as well as its on-going success. This framework by Elizabeth Z. Waetzig, is based upon the assumption that the participants in the training are already trained and experienced mediators. Ideally, they will have significant mediation experience in mediation so that the purpose of the training is to provide: information about the child serving system and legal system; an understanding of the parties and issues in the mediation; and, the skills necessary to create an environment and facilitate a dialogue that leads to agreements that support each individual child and family in a unique and culturally competent manner.


  • Child Welfare Information Gateway: Alternative Dispute Resolution
    Alternative dispute resolution involves non-adversarial methods of resolving cases that might otherwise be decided in a court hearing. Mediation is one common strategy. This Gateway webpage offers resources on the topic, as well as State and local examples.


Last updated 2/22/13