"Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program"
Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Prepared by Gary R. Anderson, PhD, MSW Peg Whalen, MSW for Michigan State Court Administrative Ofﬁce June 2004 1 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Acknowledgments T his project was funded by a federal Children’s Resolution Center; Mary Chaliman, Supervisor, Justice Act grant to the Governor’s Task Force Family Independence Agency; Sharonlyn Harrison, on Children’s Justice, administered through Director, Public Research & Evaluation Services; the Family Independence Agency, under the Child Kathy Lame, PPMP Program Coordinator, Northern Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, Administra- Community Mediation; Susan LeDuc, Deputy tion of Children and Families, U.S. Department of Chief Assistant for Family Court, Ingham County Health and Human Services, CFDA 93.643, being Prosecuting Attorney’s Ofﬁce; Ernestine Moore, Section 107(a)-(f) as amended (42 U.S.C. 5101 et Co-chair, Governor’s Task Force on Children’s seq.); and the Victims of Crime Act of 1984, as Justice; and Frank Vandervort, Program Manager, amended (42 U.S.C. 10601 et seq.). Michigan Child Welfare Law Resource Center. In addition, this project was funded by State Thanks also are offered to the seven Community Court Improvement Program funds from the U.S. Dispute Resolution Program Centers, whose Department of Health and Human Services, admin- piloting of the Permanency Planning Mediation istered through the Michigan Supreme Court, State Programs provided the basis for evaluation of Court Administrative Ofﬁce (CFDA 93.586). The Michigan’s efforts to introduce permanency State Court Improvement Program is a federal planning mediation in Michigan. Staff at the initiative originally authorized by the Omnibus following program sites were gracious hosts and Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (P.L. 103-66). interested colleagues during the collection of case The MSU School of Social Work extends its information: Citizen Dispute Resolution Service, appreciation to the funders, agencies and individu- Inc. (Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet); Western als that contributed to this evaluation of the Michi- UP Mediators (Gogebic, Ontonagon, Dickinson gan Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot (PPMP) and Iron); Gryphon Place Dispute Resolution Program. Services (Kalamazoo and Cass); Dispute Resolution Although the School of Social Work evaluation Center of West Michigan (Kent); Dispute Resolution team compiled and analyzed the information for Center (Washtenaw); Marquette-Alger Resolution the evaluation research, many others played sig- Service (Marquette and Alger); Center for Dispute niﬁcant roles in the process. Their assistance and Resolution (Sanilac). feedback strengthened the results and value of the Special thanks go to the Ofﬁce of Dispute evaluation ﬁndings. Particular thanks go to Linda Resolution at the State Court Administrative Ofﬁce Glover, retired Michigan Court Improvement Pro- of the Michigan Supreme Court. We acknowledge gram Coordinator, Michigan Supreme Court, State the commitment, collegiality and professionalism Court Administrative Ofﬁce, whose initiative and offered to the evaluation team by Douglas Van foresight led to resources and support for the evalu- Epps, Director; Laura Bassein, Project Coordinator; ation project. and Angela Gooding, Administrative Assistant. Our appreciation is extended to members of Finally, thanks to the social work graduate stu- the Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program dents and other professionals who completed the Evaluation Advisory Committee. These individuals sensitive and tedious task of recording case infor- offered insightful and substantive contributions mation and analyzing court dockets for the child to the evaluation by helping to shape the data welfare cases that beneﬁted from mediation services collected and guide interpretation of the ﬁndings. including: Kim Steed, MSW; Andrew Greifer, MSW; These individuals deserve special recognition and Bev Henrichsen, Court Appointed Special Advo- include: The Honorable Michael Anderegg, Chief cate and Mediator. Special thanks to Monaca Eaton, Judge, Marquette County Probate Court; Karen BSW, record reviewer and evaluation research assis- Beauregard, Executive Director, Dispute Resolution tant, who worked countless hours on coordinating Center of Central Michigan; Susan Butterwick, data collection, interpreting dockets and report PPMP Program Coordinator, The Dispute writing. 2 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Table of Contents 2 Acknowledgments 4 Evaluation questions and ﬁndings 5 Executive summary 10 Introduction 12 Context for evaluation of child protection mediation in Michigan 14 Evaluation methodology 16 Key questions 16 Time to permanency 18 Mediation agreements and parental compliance 21 Participant perceptions of the mediation process 28 Relationship to child welfare 35 Local program impact 36 Court perceptions of the mediation process 39 Cost and time implications 43 Lessons learned 46 Conclusion 47 Recommendations for further study 50 References 51 Notes 53 Appendices 53 A — Review of program and evaluation literature 59 B — Notes on cost 62 C — Evaluation data collection forms and required PPMP Program reports 62 Quarterly Report Form 66 Annual Report Form 67 Participant Evaluation of Mediation 69 Mediator Evaluation of Mediation 70 Mediation Case Record Review Form 72 Judges’ Questionnaire 73 Child Welfare Agency Questionnaire 74 Program Implementation Interview 75 Modiﬁed Eco-Map for Assessing Child Welfare System Stakeholder Relationships 3 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Evaluation questions and ﬁndings T his report describes the exploratory, given the involuntary nature of their descriptive program evaluation of Mich- involvement. igan’s Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot (PPMP) Program. The evaluation design 4. Has mediation had any impact on the relation- is a retrospective, longitudinal investigation, ships of the stakeholders in the child welfare including both process and outcome measures. system? Mediation has had a constructive The evaluation was designed to address impact on relationships between various eight speciﬁc questions in addition to compil- child welfare system stakeholders in the ing lessons learned from this pioneering effort. majority of communities. Conclusions have been drawn from the evalu- 5. Are there unanticipated outcomes of the media- ation results, based on a variety of information sources and data collection methods, including tion process? No unanticipated negative out- mediation case ﬁle reviews, public court ﬁle comes of the mediation process were found. records, administrative data, satisfaction sur- The high levels of participant response and satisfaction were the only unanticipated veys, questionnaires and interviews. positive ﬁndings. 1. Does mediation have an effect on the time it 6. Does the structure or procedures of the local pro- takes for a child protection case to reach per- gram have an impact on outcomes? Although manency in comparison to cases that are not not deﬁnitive, local pilot program struc- mediated? Mediation has a positive effect tures and procedures do not appear to have by decreasing the time it takes for a child a negative effect on permanency outcomes. protection case to reach permanency. The Detailed interviews at each pilot program mediated cases achieved permanency in site support this conclusion. Achievement 17 months compared to the non-mediated of outcomes and the types of outcomes did case average of 29-1/2 months. not differ signiﬁcantly across sites. 2. Does mediation have an impact on parental 7. What is the perception of referral sources, primar- compliance with the service plan? The impact ily courts, on the impact of mediation? Judges’ mediation has on increasing parental com- perceptions of the impact of child protection pliance is unclear at this time. Comparison mediation are mixed. Higher levels of experi- data for service plan compliance was not ence corresponded to more positive endorse- available for either mediated or non-medi- ments of permanency planning mediation and ated referrals. Compliance with mediation better assessments of its effectiveness with agreements was high, in general. Child respect to cost, overall utility and compliance. attendance at the mediation was related to 8. Are there implications for cost or time savings lower rates of non-compliance with mediated when mediation is used in child protection? agreements (10% when children attended, There are a variety of implications for cost 22% when children had not been present). and time savings when mediation is used in child protection. Beneﬁts are both ﬁnan- 3. What are participant perceptions of the mediation cial and outcome related with respect to process? Participant perceptions of the the best interests of children. Improvement mediation process are positive overall. The in judicial economy was noted such that most positive participants are professionals, reduced demands on a judge’s time allowed both attorney groups and child welfare/ for greater attention to other matters. human services professionals, with total scores of 86 and 82.5 out of 100. Family Michigan’s pilot program evaluation member participants ratings were lower, afﬁrms the usefulness and cost effectiveness of with 75.1 out of 100, but still quite high mediation in child protection cases. 4 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Executive summary T his program evaluation provides a retro- of cases mediated as compared to the media- spective look at the ﬁrst three years of child tion rate compiled from the statewide program protection mediation in seven Michigan case census. pilot program sites. The seven mediation sites This evaluation report describes the ﬁnd- participate in Michigan’s Permanency Plan- ings of the evaluation of the cases referred ning Mediation Pilot (PPMP) Program. Mich- for mediation at existing program sites during igan’s federally-funded Court Improvement 1999, 2000 and 2001. Analysis included case Program supported the pilot program. characteristics and outcomes for 207 of the 289 Mediation for child protection cases has referrals during this three-year period, account- been implemented successfully in Michigan. ing for 85.5% of the PPMP Program referrals. Reports on referrals to mediation from 19 courts The eighty-two (82) cases not included were throughout the state revealed 338 cases were served by sites no longer funded and, there- disposed between 1999 and 2001. Forty-nine fore, deemed too difﬁcult to recover data from of these cases were withdrawn or participants and very early cases served in the beginning did not show up for scheduled mediations, months of the PPMP Program implementation resulting in 289 referred cases (85.5%) that when record systems were incomplete because ultimately were mediated. Pilot program sites of ongoing development of forms and record still receiving funding for child protection keeping protocols. mediation in 2004 served the 207 cases The evaluation examined 207 mediation considered in this evaluation. referrals, of which 171 represented individual, unduplicated families. This sample of 171 cases • In 2002 and 2003, an additional 287 cases is the basis for the ﬁndings presented herein. were referred to mediation. (These cases The families with multiple referrals and medi- are not included in this evaluation.) ations are an interesting subset of cases served by the program. However, analysis for these 13 • Two hundred thirty-three (n=233) of families with 36 referrals is beyond the scope these cases (81.2%) were mediated. of this evaluation but will be examined and reported in the future as resources allow. The evaluation analyzed the characteristics Thirty-three (n=33) of the 171 cases referred and outcomes for 207 cases referred to medi- once to PPMP Programs (19.3%) were not ation between 1999 and 2001. Of these 207 mediated. The remaining 138 referrals (80.7%) referred cases: were mediated. • 36 mediations were the result of multi- ple referrals to mediation for 13 families, Summary of key ﬁndings in which different issues were mediated throughout the court case. The data Implementation and program statistics for these families and mediations were excluded from the evaluation analysis. 1. The PPMP Program was used at a variety of points in the child protection and legal process • 171 (82.6%) were referred once. from pre-adjudication through completing peti- tions to adopt. Although Michigan’s legal • The remaining 17.4% of cases were system includes a hearing called the per- referred but not mediated (n=33). manency planning hearing, the PPMP Pro- gram addresses cases at all stages of the These ﬁgures indicate that the evaluation legal process not just at the permanency sample reﬂects a nearly identical proportion planning hearing. 5 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report 2. The PPMP Program was successfully implemented 5. There was a large increase in the number of using two mediators at each session. Medi- cases disposed from 1999 to 2000 (75 to 129) ators were most often community vol- and a slight increase from 2000-2001 (129 unteers with extensive training and super- to 134). Figures for 2002 show continued vision—demonstrating the high level of skill growth, with 158 cases disposed. Disposed needed but also revealing the effective use cases in 2003 dropped to 148. of talented volunteers. Mediator effective- ness was rated highly by all types of partici- 6. Mediation agreements covered a broad range of pants. actions, reﬂecting the effective use of medi- ation with all types of child maltreatment 3. Mediation agreements were finalized in the great and at all stages in the legal process. These majority of cases. In several cases where a agreements included creative solutions for signed agreement was not obtained, agree- family problems, with multiple services for ment was partially or fully achieved but families and detailed action items. The most parties objected to signing a document frequently addressed challenge was visita- (with or without a ﬁnal agreement, par- tion. Visitation is a crucial consideration for ticipants reported high rates of satisfac- child well-being and for the facilitation of tion). Based on pilot program reports, 338 timely permanency decision-making. Other cases have been disposed from 1999-2001. frequent issues included: child placement Forty-nine of these cases were withdrawn decisions, service plans, plea and petition or participants did not show for mediation, language and parental counseling. resulting in 289 mediated cases. Agree- ments were reached in 82% of cases medi- Permanency outcomes ated in 2001; 83% in 2000; and in 76% in 1999. These rates are comparable or supe- 1. The time to permanency, of any type, was rior to rates from child protection medi- challenging to evaluate given the range of ation projects in other states. Favorable stages at which mediation occurs in the agreement rates continued in 2002 (87%) child protection legal process. For all cases and 2003 (82%). referred for mediation, regardless of refer- ral point, the time from petition to any type of 4. Cases were referred but not mediated for a permanency averaged 17 months. This ﬁgure variety of reasons. The case may have been compares favorably with AFCARS statis- assessed as unamenable for mediation, tics; analogous federally-compiled state- often because of current domestic violence. wide indicators of lengths of time to The most commonly noted reason for no permanency as reported by the State of mediation was a conciliation that resolved Michigan Family Independence Agency. the issues without a formal mediation. Con- ciliations with an agreement and without 2. For all cases referred for mediation, the average were distinguished for referrals not medi- time from mediation referral to any form of ated. Additional reasons include either the permanency averaged just over 13 months. initiator or respondent refused to mediate or Following referral to mediation, family the initiator or respondent failed to show. reuniﬁcation was achieved on average in 11 The initiator may have dismissed the case months; adoptions were ﬁnalized on aver- after referral was made. Or, the mediation age in 15 months. Referral points for each coordinator or mediators may have been form of permanency did not differ signiﬁ- unable to contact or schedule the mediation. cantly from each other, i.e., adoption cases were not referred any later in the case than 6 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report either cases eventually reuniﬁed or in which to end was 11 hours. The average length guardianship was the ﬁnal resolution. of time for the mediation session itself was three hours. The use of volunteer 3. Comparison of these averages for time to per- mediators reduced the expenses associated manency to statewide statistics from Mich- with mediation. igan’s federally-reported AFCARS data, suggests that permanency is achieved in a 7. Legal costs and social service expenses related more timely manner in adoption cases, with to mediation or traditional court work varied some modest time savings in foster care from county to county. However, the costs of cases resulting in reuniﬁcation. a PPMP Program staffed with trained volun- teers logically presents a cost-effective alterna- 4. A significantly greater proportion of mediated tive to traditional court action. A relatively cases had reached a permanency outcome of low-cost mediation program, with unpaid some type, as compared to non-mediated cases. mediators providing a service that poten- Comparison of cases referred to mediation tially reduces the need for multiple court and mediated revealed a statistically sig- hearings and/or court expenses associated niﬁcant and substantially larger proportion with hearings and trials, has the potential (chi-sq=16.6, p < .001) of cases achieving for substantial savings. permanency (85.2%) than was observed for cases that were referred but did not reach 8. Additional cost savings may be realized for cases mediation (51.7%). in which mediation results in higher rates of parental compliance with service plans, court 5. Time from petition to permanency was shorter for orders and mediation agreements than would mediated cases, compared to cases referred but otherwise occur. Better compliance in turn not mediated. For cases that had reached per- may reduce time in costly out-of-home manency, comparison was made between care or in negotiating visitation and living cases that had been mediated (n=106) and arrangements that may promote stability those that had not (n=11). Despite the large for children and fewer complications for discrepancy in sample sizes, signiﬁcant dif- child welfare workers. ferences between these two groups were found for average length of time between 9. In addition to financial implications, child protec- referral to mediation and permanency. Dif- tion mediation also enhances Michigan’s attain- ferences were such that mediated cases had ment of federal Child and Family Services an average time from petition to permanency of Review requirements regarding family involve- 12-1/2 months, and cases referred but not medi- ment, thereby protecting federal support for ated reached permanency, on average, within child welfare in the state. A non-monetary 20-1/2 months of being referred to mediation. beneﬁt for children and families and the The difference is statistically signiﬁcant and agencies that serve them accrues to the pro- substantial given the eight-month difference gram because it promotes family respon- in achieving permanency (t = 2.59, p < .01). sibility and cooperation in a manner that reduces conﬂict and delay. 6. With regard to costs associated with the PPMP Program, the expense of the program is related 10. In the great majority of cases in which a media- to the time expended in preparing for, conducting tion agreement was finalized, there were high and following up the mediation. The average rates of parental compliance with the terms of amount of time expended to prepare for, conduct the agreement. This is not to say that media- and follow up on a mediation from initiation tion is related to increased compliance, only 7 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report that observed compliance was high overall. 1. The majority of judges with experience with a Adequate comparison data for non-medi- PPMP Program reported very positive perspec- ated cases was not available for analysis. tives on mediation; some noted that mediation is not a panacea for all problems, that care- 11. Michigan permanency planning mediation led to ful planning is required and that work with parents and other family members reporting they stakeholders before the program begins is had been included in case planning and had their very important for program success. viewpoints considered during that process. 2. Attorney satisfaction ratings, overall, were quite Beneﬁts and challenges for permanency high. Lawyer guardians ad litem, prose- planning mediation programs cuting attorneys and other attorneys in attendance at mediation sessions rated the The preponderance of feedback from medi- experience and outcome at least as posi- ation participants, mediators and judges spoke tively as child welfare professionals. to the value of a highly-interactive process, in a less formal and less adversarial environment, 3. Child welfare professionals reported even higher with time dedicated to reaching an acceptable rates of positive assessments of the mediators, plan. With a clearer understanding of issues the professionals’ experiences in mediation and viewpoints and with more information and overall satisfaction. Eighty-three percent introduced than what is available in a tradi- judged the mediation outcome to be fair; tional court hearing, an effective focus on prob- 91% of FIA caseworkers reported they would lem solving could be maintained. This clarity use mediation again; 92% stated they would ultimately saved time and promoted perma- recommend mediation to someone else. nency. Mediation faced a number of challenges. For example, there could be: 4. Family members reported that mediators treated everyone fairly, were neutral, listened carefully • Disagreement and conﬂict during a to them, were informative and organized; a mediation. majority of family members reported that they were listened to by other participants, • Some participants—both family mem- talked about the issues that were important bers and professionals—could be obsti- to them, increased their understanding nate and unwilling to negotiate. of other viewpoints, were treated with respect and reported fully participating in • Relationships between participants did the mediation; and a majority of family not always improve through the media- members reported the mediation was tion process. helpful, the outcome was fair and indicated they would use mediation again and would To attain the beneﬁts and appropriately recommend mediation to others. manage the challenges, mediators need to be skilled and well-trained. 5. Although relatively small in number, mediation participants who were comparatively less satis- Participant satisfaction outcomes fied with their experience and the outcome were other family members (other than parents The positive outcomes and participant and grandparents), children, FIA profes- experiences with mediation support the use of sionals (other than caseworkers), foster par- this approach to ensuring safety and perma- ents and attorneys for fathers (although the nency for children: great majority reported satisfaction). 8 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Conclusions improved family and professional satisfaction, construction of individualized and detailed Including mediation as a valued option in treatment plans, plan compliance and the range of legal responses to child maltreat- attentiveness to the permanency needs of ment and protection is at least reasonable, if children. not preferable to other options. Mediation in child welfare cases resulted Calculation of precise ﬁnancial savings for in positive outcomes for children, families, Michigan as a result of permanency planning professionals and systems without increasing mediation may be elusive because of the the overall costs of the judicial and administrative multiple factors to be considered, hidden costs handling of child welfare cases. Although and county variability. However, concluding difﬁcult to precisely quantify, there may be that there is a ﬁnancial savings to be gained actual cost savings with the use of volunteer from mediation seems reasonable. There also mediators. Support for mediation services for are incalculable beneﬁts associated with child welfare cases seems warranted. 9 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Introduction I n 1993 the United States Department of tiate case plans, to resolve a range of case dif- Health and Human Services funded initia- ﬁculties and to address permanency concerns. tives in each state to support family pres- Mediation was identiﬁed as potentially help- ervation, child maltreatment prevention and ful at many stages such as pre-adjudication, services to families at risk of maltreatment and post-adjudication, permanency planning and subsequent out-of-home placements of chil- post-termination. dren. This federal initiative, called the Court Permanency planning mediation in Michi- Improvement Program (CIP), was reautho- gan involved the intervention of two highly- rized in 1997 as part of the Adoption and Safe trained and supervised volunteer mediators to Families Act (ASFA). The CIP in Michigan is assist families and the child protection/welfare administered by the State Court Administra- system (child protective caseworkers, agency tive Ofﬁce (SCAO). Based on an assessment attorneys and prosecuting attorneys) reach a of Michigan’s laws, policies and procedures mutually-acceptable settlement or agreement that affect timely and effective case decisions, designed to insure the child’s safety and pro- a number of recommendations were made mote permanency for children. for improvement. These recommendations Permanency planning is the systematic pro- included initiatives to strengthen Michigan’s cess of carrying out, within a limited period, a legal and service response to child maltreat- set of goal-directed activities designed to help chil- ment. Based on this assessment and subse- dren and youths live in families that offer conti- quent information acquired with regard to best nuity of relationships with nurturing parents or practices in child welfare, the Michigan CIP caretakers and the opportunity to offer lifetime rela- began the Permanency Planning Mediation tionships. (Maluccio and Fein, 1983, p. 197). Pilot (PPMP) Program. Consequently, permanency planning media- The statewide assessment recommended tion was designed to identify, carry out and that mediation be implemented at various expedite the achievement of case goals that points in time in child protection proceedings. would result in a safe, permanent home for chil- Mediation is deﬁned as the process in which dren in a timely manner. These goals included a neutral third party facilitates communication the safe preservation of the family unit (if pos- between two or more contending parties, assists in sible), timely reuniﬁcation with one’s parents, identifying issues and helps explore solutions to guardianship with alternative caregivers such promote a mutually acceptable settlement. Media- as relatives, or termination of parental rights tion projects focusing on permanency planning leading to a timely adoption. These provisions and addressing issues in relation to child abuse of permanency planning were ﬁrst delineated and neglect had already been implemented in at the federal level in the Adoption Assistance a number of states, including California, Con- and Child Welfare Act of 1980. necticut, Florida, Ohio, Oregon and Wiscon- In broad terms, the stages of permanency sin. planning mediation include: In Michigan, the pilot projects are offered through local Community Dispute Resolution 1. Referral to mediation by a judge/referee or Program (CDRP) Centers, already supported other stakeholder, such as a caseworker, by SCAO. The Michigan projects were origi- attorney or family member; nally introduced through eleven CDRP cen- ters beginning in 1998. This study looks at the 2. Preparation for the mediation session experiences of seven mediation program sites including reviewing selected court spanning over 14 counties. The PPMP Program documents, identifying and inviting sites offer mediation services to families and relevant family members and professionals, agencies prior to contested hearings, to nego- analyzing the case and reviewing for 10 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report domestic violence issues. This preparation • Ensures the safety and well-being of for the mediation session includes children; and contacting relevant parties and an intake process with family members providing • Maximizes the family’s integrity and information about the nature and process functioning. of mediation; The best interests of children are the 3. Mediators meet with professionals and family primary consideration of the mediation process members to inform them about mediation, and outcome. promote expression of viewpoints and Each CDRP/PPMP Program site followed listening to each other, help parties to similar procedures. Referrals to mediation feel understood, encourage positive came from child protective agencies (13%), the relationships and address settlement details; family (1%), family or prosecuting attorneys and (8%), LGALs (4%), the court (58%) or other stakeholders (16%). PPMP Program procedures 4. Mediation program follow-up on compliance included a pre-mediation intake process to with the mediation agreement within 60 to gather information, inform participants about 90 days after a mediation session. the process, determine who should attend the mediation, clarify questions or concerns Mediation is intended to provide beneﬁts and screen for domestic violence. Mediation for the children, the family, the child welfare participants included family members, child agency, attorneys and the court. These protective service or other appropriate child advantages include providing opportunities welfare agency staff, relevant attorneys to understand and meet the family’s needs (including prosecutors) and others identiﬁed in a timely manner, reduce unproductive at intake as having a signiﬁcant interest in the time in court, increase opportunities for full case. participation by all parties and reduce the Two mediators typically facilitated amount and extent of adversarial litigation. mediation sessions. These mediators were most The goals of the mediation process are to assist frequently volunteers who were recruited and all parties to reach a settlement that: extensively trained for this purpose by the CDRP centers. On occasion, a staff member • Is informed, timely and digniﬁed; of the Center would serve as a mediator. The result of a mediation session would be • Is consistent with public policy; an agreement among the participants at the meeting to be implemented by the family • Is judicially acceptable; and/or other designated participants. 11 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Context for evaluation of child protection mediation in Michigan A lthough a few states had begun empowering effect on family members through mediation projects, Michigan was one the development of options, equal opportunity of the pioneers in permanency planning to participate in the process, decision-making mediation. When the PPMP Program began responsibility and power balancing (Barsky, in Michigan in 1998, it was a relatively new 1996). practice. There was and continues to be limited Utilization of mediation. Noting that utiliza- professional literature describing mediation in tion rates for mediation services remain below child protection proceedings. There also have expectations, one study investigated why cli- been a small number of evaluation studies. ents chose to participate in mediation. This The following review describes this study, based in a Toronto, Canada mediation literature regarding mediation in child center, examined ﬁve cases and interviewed protection cases. Several state/province 16 individuals (ﬁve Children’s Protective Ser- experiences with mediation that informed vices (CPS) workers; four mothers, one father, Michigan’s program as well as some common one uncle and ﬁve mediators) involved in the themes in mediation will be identiﬁed. The mediation cases. The study found that family intention is to place the Michigan evaluation members preferred to avoid court and that in the context of other studies and advance CPS workers preferred to work collaboratively knowledge about this special mediation with the family. CPS workers and family mem- strategy. (See additional contextual information bers had different perspectives and different in Appendix A.) concerns, with family members worried about how well the arrangements met their needs Issues and themes and CPS workers concerned about whether an agreement met the best interests of the As mediation is a relatively new approach in involved children (Barsky, 1997). child protection cases, much of the professional Description and qualifications of mediators. literature describes programs (Firestone, 1997; Based on interviews with child protection Giovannucci, 1997; Giovannucci, 1999; workers, mediators, parents and other family Thoennes, 1991; Thoennes, 1994), details the members who participated in mediation, role of mediators and participants (Baron, Barsky reported that mediation required a 1997) and identiﬁes issues and controversies broad range of facilitation and problem-solv- in mediation (Leonard and Baron, 1995; ing skills, careful attention to maintaining a Thoennes, 1991). There are relatively few neutral position and the ability to develop a formal evaluations, with the primary ones in constructive alliance with all parties (Barsky, Connecticut, California, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, 1998). Oregon and Wisconsin (Thoennes, 1995; Barsky, Point of mediation. Across programs, prac- 1997). None of these studies used a randomly tices differed from state to state and some- assigned control group or experimental design times from court to court as to when a child (see the Evaluation Methodology section). protective case was appropriate for mediation The literature does address a number of with regard to timing in the court process. themes in addition to site-speciﬁc programs: For example, in the study of three California Value of mediation. In an in-depth analysis, counties, only one county (Los Angeles) nego- Allan Barsky reported a study of ﬁve child pro- tiated the wording of petitions in mediation tection cases in which participants were inter- (Thoennes, 1991). Some programs almost exclu- viewed and suggested that mediation has an sively negotiated voluntary termination of 12 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report parental rights and open adoption arrange- Overview ments (Oregon, Etter 1993, 1998), or primarily focused on these areas of service (Idaho, Wash- A review of the literature demonstrates that ington). Other programs focused on a full con- the application of mediation to child protection tinuum of intervention points (Connecticut). cases is still a relatively new strategy. Apart Some projects built in a diversion goal for their from Connecticut and California, most pro- mediation projects (Iowa). grams have been introduced recently and on a Mediation agreements. Across studies, rela- modest scale. The beneﬁts of mediation often tively high agreement rates are reported, with are described in terms of participant satisfac- Thoennes and Pearson reporting above 70% tion, high parental compliance with agreements partial and complete agreements in ﬁve Cali- and cost savings for courts. The determination fornia counties. In her study of three California of cost savings is oftentimes imprecise but does counties, Thoennes found that 600 of 800 cases seem to demonstrate some level of ﬁnancial were settled in mediation (75%). In Florida, beneﬁt for courts and states. The reduction of 86% of cases resulted in agreements (Schultz, time to permanency is less frequently examined Press and Mann, 1996). and oftentimes altogether missing. This may be Parental compliance. In a Colorado doctoral due to multiple challenges, including the inabil- dissertation, looking at the impact of mediation ity to follow cases for a number of years. on parent compliance, 39 cases were selected. Programs across the U.S. and Canada share Twenty-two cases were assigned to the exper- many similarities with Michigan’s program imental group and participated in mediation; model: stages of the process, use of mediation 17 were in the comparison group. Parents were over the continuum of court timelines, and, given a 17-statement questionnaire. Parents as this report will present, similar positive offered mediation felt less coerced and felt a ﬁndings for participant satisfaction, agreement greater commitment to the value of the inter- and compliance rates. Signiﬁcant differences vention for them and their children. Mediation also exist. For example, Michigan uses primar- did not affect compliance patterns. Mediation ily volunteer mediators; most other programs did result in a decrease in parental feelings have paid professional mediators. This has of alienation from protective services interven- implications for program expenses. In addi- tion (Mayer, 1988). tion, Michigan uses two mediators per session A Center for Dispute Resolution project and usually has all parties in the room at the in Colorado reviewed 187 child protection same time (as opposed to shuttle mediation). cases; at six months, 75% of cases were in The number of cases analyzed in the Michigan full compliance with mediated agreements. study places it among the highest number of Expanded descriptions of mediation projects cases examined in child protection mediation. are in Appendix A. 13 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Evaluation methodology T his research is an exploratory, descriptive position, terminations of parental rights, program evaluation of Michigan’s PPMP permanency decisions and case dismiss- Program. The evaluation design is a ret- als. rospective, longitudinal investigation, includ- ing both process and outcome measures. The • The fourth source of evaluation data formative aspects of the PPMP Program have was mediation participant satisfaction been assessed through interviews with PPMP surveys and mediator evaluations that Program coordinators and/or CDRP Center had been forwarded to the SCAO, ODR directors regarding the introduction of child ofﬁce. protection mediation in afﬁliated communities. Evaluation interviews revealed community- • A ﬁfth information source was a short, speciﬁc experiences around the establishment open-ended questionnaire completed by of the PPMP Program as an additional com- referring judges. ponent of community child welfare systems and court intervention. Assessment of relation- • Finally, PPMP Program coordinators ships among community child welfare stake- were interviewed about the process of holders, i.e., courts, prosecutor ofﬁces, public implementing the PPMP Program in child welfare systems, attorneys and CDRP their communities and completed an eco- Centers, provides a description of the current map describing the relationships between nature of local child welfare systems. their CDRP/PPMP Program and other A variety of information and data sources community child welfare stakeholders. were used to gather evaluation data. Copies of all these data sources are in Appendix C: This study has a number of strengths, including: • The primary sources of case information, mediation outcomes and permanency • A relatively high number of mediated solutions were mandatory quarterly and cases included in the evaluation that annual case-speciﬁc reports collected by reduces the likelihood that a few cases the Ofﬁce of Dispute Resolution (ODR). will signiﬁcantly tilt the ﬁndings reported in this study. • A secondary source of case-speciﬁc data was on-site record reviews of PPMP • Breadth of the study—seven pilot sites Program ﬁles for cases mediated to across the state in rural and urban agreement. Record review identiﬁed communities—enhances the reliability professionals involved with each case, and generalizability of the information individual child characteristics, media- gained. tion agreement content and permanency information. • Multiple data sources and multiple perspectives provide cross-sections of • A third source of case information was description that craft a coherent and con- from copies of court dockets provided sistent picture of the program in Michi- by courts. Dockets gave detailed infor- gan. mation about the dates of key events and allowed for computation of days • Level of detail on the cases provides between events such as petition ﬁling or useful process information for program authorizations, referral to mediation, dis- improvement and replication. 14 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report There are also a variety of limitations. The satisfaction data is not routinely collected for design of the study addresses some of these court services, the data gained through the concerns. Portions of the data—such as par- mediation can be compared to other Michigan ticipant ratings of the mediation session—are programs and mediation in other states. Other self-reported and, consequently, subject to the comparisons can be made with Michigan traditional concerns about this method of data data about times to permanency. A follow-up collection. For example, obtaining information exploration to this report comparing cases immediately following the mediation reduces referred to mediation that were mediated with distortions due to memory; and the risk of pro- those that were referred to mediation but did viding socially acceptable, positive answers is not go to mediation is ongoing (and is partly reduced due to the anonymity of the partici- reported later). pant forms. In addition, the nature of the ﬁnd- Also, the nature of the mediation program ings demonstrates variability in responses so poses a number of challenges for the evaluation. that it seems less likely that participants were Speciﬁcally, the intervention at a variety of thoughtlessly providing feedback. points in the court process makes it difﬁcult There is some risk that persons might to ﬁrmly establish time lines and reduces provide a different assessment of mediation the ability to compare and aggregate cases. at later dates, but the direction of a possible For example, the time to permanency differs revised assessment (positive or negative) dramatically at any one site depending on when cannot easily be determined, and this the case is mediated—pre-adjudication, at a possibility has to be balanced against the dispositional or permanency planning hearing, opportunity to get a high response rate from or at the time of termination of parental rights. participants. Also, variables that affect permanency and, There is no control group or experimental therefore, the outcome of a case in mediation, design in this evaluation. This aspect of the are many and oftentimes outside of the control evaluation design reduces the ability to make and knowledge of court professionals. The deﬁnitive statements about the effectiveness nature of cases referred to mediation may of mediation as opposed to other forms of in themselves introduce a bias—especially if intervention. It is possible to describe mediation these are cases that have been particularly and the ﬁndings as substantially positive troublesome in the court or have not responded so that the value of mediation seems quite to other forms of intervention so are referred to clear. Its superiority could most strongly be this new service. demonstrated through an experimental design. What is realistic to expect from a process However, there are also limitations to the use of that brings together participants for three an experimental design and control group. For hours? Any intervention must be examined example, the ability to create matched groups with some degree of modesty and appreciation of families is very difﬁcult, and this would for what can and cannot be accomplished. heighten the need for large sample sizes. As one of the judges with experience with Based on previous studies, there is sufﬁcient mediation reported, “mediation may not work ground to conclude that mediation is helpful, so in all cases nor is it the cure for all of the ills of that withholding this intervention from some the child welfare system.” Consequently, this families (while providing it for others) may be retrospective evaluation has posed a number practically and politically difﬁcult. The ability of key questions and has attempted to answer to make some very modest comparisons is them and advance knowledge about the use of not entirely impossible in this study. Although mediation in child protective cases. 15 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Key questions Time to permanency It is important to note that under Michigan law a legal guardianship is never permanent Child placements and time to permanency as it may be challenged at any time. are challenging to consider. It is important Regardless of pre-referral child placements, to note that it is difﬁcult to compare cases a length of time to permanency can be or arrive at conclusions due to the variety of determined. For the 128 non-duplicated cases cases accepted for mediation and the variety referred once for mediation and achieving per- of stages cases are at in the court process. For manency, the range in time from petition to example, a review of mediation agreements achieving permanency was from 55 days to showed that at the beginning of mediation 2,057 days. (Note that data on length of time to sessions, children were living in a broad array permanency was unknown for eight cases that of placements. Children were placed with: had achieved permanency. The total number of cases that had achieved permanency by Sep- • Fathers tember 2003 was 136.) • Mothers • Two parents, or parent and stepparent Cases for which time to permanency • A relative in kinship care is known • In foster care • In group homes Of the cases for which times to perma- • In a domestic violence shelter nency is known, the following observations • A friend were made: • A legal guardian • Relatives who had adopted the child or • For all cases referred for mediation, the • Non-relative adoptive parents. number of days between petition and permanency ranged from 55 days (less Permanency has many deﬁnitions across than two months) to 2,057 days (67 the programs and professions involved in months), with an average of 540 days, child welfare. A broad children’s services deﬁ- or 17-1/2 months. The number of days nition describes permanency as family caregiving between mediation referral and perma- arrangements that offer continuity of relationships nency ranged from 5 days to 1,427 days with nurturing parents or caretakers and the oppor- (three years, 11 months after the referral tunity to offer lifetime relationships. Michigan’s to mediation had been made). The aver- PPMP Program Mediation Manual (2002) deﬁnes age time to permanency from referral permanency as the intended permanent solution for was 406 days, or 13 months. The propor- the safe care and living arrangement for a child. Per- tion of all referred cases achieving perma- manency solutions are identiﬁed for each case nency of any type was 79.5%. using the following categories of outcomes: • For referred cases that actually convened a Permanency Outcomes for Families Referred for Mediation (n=171) mediation, the number of days between petition and permanency ranged from Types of permanency outcomes Percent of families Adoption 23.4% 55 days (less than two months) to 1,415 Reuniﬁcation with either parent 36.8% days (46 months), with an average of Guardianship 8.8% Permanent foster family agreement 1.8% 506 days, or 16-1/2 months. The length Long-term foster care 2.9% of time from referral to mediation and Independent Living 1.2% permanency ranged from ﬁve to 1,394 Other—kinship/relative care 2.3% Other—not speciﬁed 2.3% days. The average time from referral to Permanency not yet achieved/pending 20.5% mediation to achieving permanency was 16 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report 382 days, or about 12-1/2 months. The was no mediation—to cases referred and medi- proportion of mediated cases achieving ated, is possible but potentially premature with permanency of any type was 85.2%. regard to the question of length of time to per- manency (due to the small number of cases that • For referred cases that did not hold a media- achieved permanency). However, for cases that tion, the number of days between peti- had reached permanency (n=128), comparison tion and permanency ranged from 99 was made between cases that had been medi- days (three months) to 2,057 days (67 ated (n=117) and those that had not (n=11). months), with an average of 899 days, or Despite the large difference in sample sizes, sig- 29 months. The length of time between niﬁcant differences between these two groups mediation referral and permanency were found for average length of time between ranged from 91 to 1,427 days. The aver- petition and permanency. Mean differences age length from referral to mediation to were such that mediated cases had an average achieving permanency was 633 days, or time from petition to permanency of 506 days about 20-1/2 months. The proportion of (16-1/2 months), and cases referred but not cases referred but not mediated achiev- mediated reached permanency, on average, in ing permanency of any type was 51.7%. 899 days (29-1/2 months). This difference is statistically signiﬁcant (t = 2.08, p < .05) and Cases referred but not mediated quite large, 393 days (12-1/2). Differences between the lengths of time Detailed information on cases referred to from referral to mediation to permanency also mediation but not mediated was limited. Of were tested statistically. Five cases did not have the 171 cases referred for mediation just once, a known referral-to-mediation date. This miss- only 35 did not have mediation, and nearly ing information resulted in a smaller sample half (48.8%) of those not-mediated referrals, size for the mediated cases group. For cases had yet to reach permanency. Some informa- that had reached permanency, comparison was tion was available with regard to those non- made between cases that had been mediated mediated cases with a permanency resolution. (n=106) and those that had not (n=11). At this time, with the number of cases Despite the large discrepancy in sample studied, the effect that is observed concerns sizes, signiﬁcant differences between these two whether or not permanency has been achieved. groups were found for average length of time Mediated and non-mediated cases were com- between referral to mediation and permanency. pared on the achievement of permanency (as Mean differences were such that mediated opposed to length of time to permanency). cases had an average time from petition to There was a statistically signiﬁcant difference permanency of 382 days (12-1/2 months), and between cases that were mediated in compar- cases referred but not mediated reached per- ison to cases referred for mediation but not manency, on average, within 633 days of being mediated. For cases referred but not mediated, referred to mediation (20-1/2 months). The dif- only 51.7% had achieved permanency at the ference is statistically signiﬁcant and substan- time of the evaluation. In contrast, 85.2% of tial (t = 2.59, p < .01). referred cases that were mediated had achieved permanency at the time of the evaluation. There Types of permanency is signiﬁcantly higher achievement of perma- nency for mediated cases than non-mediated In addition to descriptive information about cases (chi-sq = 16.6 , p < .001). the achievement of permanency, differences At this point in time, comparing cases among cases ending in various types of per- referred to mediation—but for which there manency were compared on each of the mea- 17 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report of time from petition Cumulative percentage of length sures of time to permanency, i.e., length of time over a two-year to permanency period from petition to permanency and between referral for mediation to permanency. Statistically signiﬁ- cant differences were found for length of time to achieve permanency based on the type of permanency outcome. There were notable dif- ferences in time to permanency from petition, Petition to Petition to Petition to but not from referral to mediation among cases 12 months 15 months 24 months culminating in adoptions (n=36), reuniﬁcation (n=55) and guardianship or kinship-based per- • Families who were reunited, on average manency (n=19). within 12 months of the mediation; Closer analysis of differences in length of time to permanency from the date of peti- • Or cases involving guardianships or kinship tion revealed statistically signiﬁcant differences care arrangements, which reached per- (p<.05) for days between petition and permanency manency in slightly less than 12 months. among the various groups of permanency solu- tions such that: Because of disproportionate sample sizes, statistical comparisons between mediated and • Cases resulting in adoptions had a mean non-mediated cases could not be made for time to permanency of 22 months cases ending in adoption (n=30 vs. n=6), reuni- (Mean=666 days). This group was signif- ﬁcation (n=52 vs. n=3), or guardianships/ icantly longer than: kinship care (n=17 vs. n=2). For all mediated cases achieving perma- • Reunited families, who were reuniﬁed on nency of any type (n=131), 36% achieved per- average in 15 months (Mean=460 days). manency within 12 months of the petition; at 15 months of the petition, 51.2% had reached Because of the disproportionate and smaller permanency; and at 24 months from date of sample size for guardianship or kinship-based petition, 81.6% had reached permanency. permanency, only 19 cases, neither adoptions nor family reuniﬁcations were statistically signiﬁcantly longer than cases involving Mediation agreements and guardianships, which reached permanency in parental compliance 17-1/2 months (Mean=525 days). The apparent differences are not substantial enough to rule Based on quarterly reports submitted to out chance as the best explanation for the SCAO by pilot programs, 338 cases were ﬁnding. referred for mediation between 1999-2001. Days between referral to mediation and Forty-nine of these cases had referrals that permanency statistically were not signiﬁcantly were withdrawn or participants that did not different across permanency solutions. The attend a scheduled mediation session, result- following list reveals no differences of statistical ing in 289 mediated cases. There was a large consequence among: increase in the number of cases disposed from 1999 to 2000 (75 to 129) and a slight increase • Cases ending in adoption, which reached from 2000-2001 (129 to 134). Agreements were permanency within 16-1/2 months of reached in 76% of cases mediated in 1999, 83% referral; in 2000 and 82% in 2001. 18 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Agreements reached in mediated cases by year mediation (n=30 cases). With regard to negoti- ating a case service plan, the highest number of cases addressed issues related to visitation (n=52); followed by child placement decisions (n=43), issues related to service compliance (n=43), counseling for parents (n=34) and parent education (n=13). Several cases Percent reaching agreements addressed communication rules and patterns (n=9). Issues related to service compliance included securing day care, participating in evaluations and assessments, keeping a clean home, seeking and keeping employment, trans- portation arrangements, safety plans, sub- stance abuse treatment and securing housing. In 16 cases, there were no mediation agree- ments although a mediation session took place. These cases illustrate the outcomes for sessions in which there is no written ﬁnalized agree- Program Year ment. In six cases, the parties agreed that the issues were fully negotiated and resolved and Mediation agreements addressed a range determined there was not a need for a written of issues. To identify those issues, a sample agreement. In three cases, there was no writ- of mediation agreements were reviewed and ten agreement, but the mediator noted there content analyzed (n=97). The number of issues was a clariﬁcation of issues. In one case, the negotiated in mediation sessions ranged from family members walked away with a draft of one to 22 distinct issues (averaging seven the mediation agreement without signing it; issues per agreement). In a number of cases, in another case the agreement was not put the issues related to the original plea and peti- into writing as the Lawyer Guardian Ad Litem tion language were a signiﬁcant part of the (LGAL) was not in attendance at the mediation Mediation Agreement Content (n=97) Mediation agreement content (n=97) Percentage of Mediation Agreements Percentage of mediation agreements 100% 100 containing specified content containing speciﬁed content 80% 80 60% 60 53.6% 53.6 44.3 44.3% 44.3 44.3% 40 40% 35.1 35.1% 30.9% 30.9 20 20% 13.4 13.4% 9.3 9.3% 0 0% child placement counseling for Communication language compliance education visitation Plea and Plea and petition language Visitation Child placement decisions Service compliance Counseling for parents Parent education Communication rulesrulespatterns petition parent service decisions and and parents patterns Types of items in agreements Type of Items in Agreements 19 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report session. In two cases, there was a mediation Because follow-up is done at 60 to 90 days process but no agreement, and the children after the mediation, there may be situations in were subsequently removed from the home. which (a) there is no compliance at the time of In three cases, it was not possible to reach follow-up, but there is compliance later, after an agreement due to the ﬁrm, opposing view- the follow-up call, i.e., delayed compliance, or points of the participants; and for one of these (b) there may be initial compliance that turns to cases, the mental illness of the mother inter- non-compliance subsequent to the follow-up, fered with developing a signed mediation i.e., later non-compliance. Delayed compliance agreement. These cases illustrate that the lack or later non-compliance, may have occurred of a written agreement after mediation does but would not have been recorded. not necessarily mean the failure to reach agree- ment (this failure to agree was the situation in a minority of these cases) and that there Percent of other parties’ compliance may be some positive process elements even when an agreement is not reached (for exam- ple, issue clariﬁcation, enhanced understand- ing of issues and perspectives, expression of viewpoints). Increase in parental compliance is an impor- tant outcome for permanency planning medi- ation. According to PPMP Program records (as noted in supplemental quarterly reports), over- all parental compliance was reported to be high The evaluation posed a question about within 60 to 90 days of the mediation session. inﬂuences on compliance: What relationship Out of 109 cases with compliance information, exists between case characteristics, disposition 73.4% reported full parental compliance with of mediation, mediation results and case out- the terms of the mediation agreement. An addi- comes for permanency and parental com- tional 20.2% showed partial compliance with pliance? For example, if non-parent family the mediation agreement. members are in attendance during the medi- ation for a particular case, is there a corre- Extent of parental compliance with mediation agreement sponding decrease in time to permanency or an increase in parental compliance? Parental compliance with mediation agree- Percent of agreements ments was known for 74 mediated cases that had either a full or partial agreement. Corre- lates of parental compliance were sought by identifying relationships between compliance and reported case data. Reported information included point of referral, result of mediation, compliance Level of parental court acceptance of mediation agreements, referral source, lengths of mediation, type and Compliance rates for other parties (other number of mediation participants, number of than the parents) were also reported in 100 children and hours expended by PPMP Pro- cases. These cases were described as having gram staff and volunteers. Analysis of parental 73% full compliance, with an additional 25% compliance was related only to the participa- showing partial compliance with the 60 to tion during mediation of one group of partici- 90 days after the mediation was completed. pants—children. 20 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report For cases in which children attended medi- Participant perceptions of the ation, 40% of mediations had full parental com- mediation process pliance reported. An additional 50% reported partial parental compliance, totaling 90% of All participants mediations. Non-compliance was 10%. In con- trast, mediations at which no children were Participant perception of a service is an present reported 63% full parental compliance important outcome for any innovation in and 15% partial compliance, totaling 78% of human service delivery. Participant perception mediations. Without children at the mediation, is important in assessing the value and success non-compliance was higher at 22%. These dif- of permanency planning mediation, as one of ferences are statistically signiﬁcant (chi-sq = the purposes of mediation is to engage stake- 9.936, p < .01). holders in the active construction of a plan Why was there higher overall compliance and the successful implementation of that plan when children were present? There were 77 in order to achieve permanency outcomes for children present in 44 mediation sessions. children. The assessments reported by stake- There are multiple possible explanations: holders provide valuable information about the usefulness of mediation. This section reports • It is likely that children who attended the participant evaluations submitted by medi- mediations were older, and older chil- ation session attendees. dren potentially can facilitate or inhibit The following ﬁgure provides a brief sum- parental compliance with the agreement. mary of the response rates by each type of partic- ipant group. More detailed response rates within • The child maltreatment severity or type each type of participant group are included at may be different in those cases where the beginning of the sections for each group. children were present at mediation; Participant evaluation response rate among mediation participant categories • The presence of children might indicate differences in pilot program site family Percent of respondents based on total number at mediation sessions engagement or greater mediator skill in attendance or differences in court orders for atten- dance. No other signiﬁcant differences were found between other family member participants in mediation and subsequent parental compli- Categories of participants ance with the mediated agreement. No sig- niﬁcant differences were found between child These response rates are consistent with welfare system participant groups and subse- rates of response noted within program evalu- quent parental compliance. No other relation- ations across a variety of human services and ships were found between parental compliance child welfare interventions. The overall rates and case characteristics, including: point of do not constitute a majority of cases; however, referral, result of mediation, court acceptance of they do provide insight into a range of experi- mediation agreements, referral source, lengths ences and sentiments; the ﬁndings are instruc- of mediation, types and numbers of media- tive. Although the content of responses is tion participants and total hours expended by disproportionately positive, the evaluations PPMP Program staff and volunteers. also are descriptive of both solidly positive 21 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report evaluations from a variety of professionals and other family members (73.3%) reported family members, as well as some negative eval- they were given information about the uations from across the same groups. mediation before the mediation. There is no agreement about a general stan- dard for satisfaction that constitutes success. In 2a) Before mediation, I was given information about mediation. the California study, the project had the goal of 100 75% of family participants expressing satisfac- Percent satisfied 80 Percent satisﬁed tion. The evaluation reported that this level of 60 satisfaction was achieved. In the Iowa Media- 40 85.1 88.9 80 73.3 tion Project, the evaluation reported that 90% of 20 participants found mediation to be helpful. The 0 Iowa evaluation included all participants— Mothers Mothers Fathers Fathers Grandparents Grand Parents Other Family Other Family public child welfare case managers, attorneys Type of family member participants Members Members and family members—in that percentage of Type of family member participants helpfulness. In the Iowa study, 16% of the total number of evaluations came from family 2. The great majority of mothers (87.2%), members. In the Michigan evaluation, 30.9% of fathers (86.1%), grandparents (90.9%) and respondents were family members. other family members (70.2%) reported that the mediators explained mediation to them Family members’ evaluation at the beginning of the mediation session. Family member satisfaction was assessed at b) At the beginning, the mediators explained mediation to me. the conclusion of mediation through participant 100 questionnaires. With the exception of children, Percent Satisfied 80 Percent satisﬁed one-quarter to one-half of family participants 60 returned completed participant evaluations. 40 87.2 86.1 90.9 70.2 Family member response rate for participant 20 evaluation of mediation 0 Percent of respondents based on total number at mediation sessions Mothers Mothers Fathers Fathers Grandparents Grand Parents Other Family Other Family Members Members in attendance Type of family member participants Type of family member participants 3. The great majority of mothers (89.3%), Mother Father Child/Children Other Family fathers (88.5%) and grandparents (81.9%) Type of family member Member and a majority of other family members (68.1%) reported that the mediators listened Family members were categorized into four carefully to them in the session. groups; mothers, fathers, grandparents and c) The mediators listened carefully to me. other family members (including aunts, uncles, adult siblings, family friends and parents’ sig- 100 niﬁcant others). Children will be discussed Percent satisfied 80 Percent satisﬁed later. A review of family member reports with 60 89.3 88.5 81.9 68.1 regard to the mediation session(s) resulted in 40 the following conclusions: 20 0 1. The great majority of mothers (85.1%), Mothers Mothers Fathers Fathers Grand Parents Grandparents Other Family Other Family Members Members fathers (88.9%), grandparents (80%) and Type family member participants Type of of family member participants 22 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report 4. The great majority of mothers (89.1%), 7. Although a majority of family members fathers (88.6%) and grandparents (80%) and reported other people in mediation took them a majority of other family members (61.7%) seriously, the percentages reporting this were reported that they talked about all of the lower compared to other aspects of the media- issues that were important. tion (mothers 72.3%; fathers 74.2%; grandpar- d) We talked about all the issues that were important to me. ents 80%; and other family members 63.1%). 100 g) Other people in mediation took me seriously. 90 Percent Satisfied Percent satisﬁed 80 70 100 60 80 Percent satisfied percent satisﬁed 50 40 89.1 88.6 80 30 61.7 60 20 10 40 72.3 74.2 80 0 63.1 Mothers Fathers Grandparents 20 Mothers Fathers Grand Parents Other Family Other Family Members Members 0 Type of family member participants Mothers Fathers Grandparents Other Family Type of family member participants Mothers Fathers Grand Parents Other Family 1. Members Members Type of family member participants Type of family member participants 5. The great majority of mothers (89.1%), fathers (85.7%) and grandparents (91%) 8. Similarly, a majority reported having a better and the majority of other family members understanding of others’ points of view (68.8%) reported that the mediators treated (mothers 71.8%; fathers 72.3%; grandparents everyone fairly. 71.8%; other family members 56.5%). e) The mediators treated everyone fairly. h) I have a better understanding of others’ points of view. 100 100 90 Percent satisfied 80 80 Percent satisﬁed Percent satisfied Percent satisﬁed 70 60 60 89.1 85.7 91 50 40 68.8 40 71.8 72.3 71.8 20 30 56.5 20 0 10 Mothers Mothers Fathers Fathers Grandparents Grand Parents Other Family Other Family 0 Members Members Mothers Mothers Fathers Fathers Grandparents Grand Parents Other Family Other Family Type of family member participants Members Members Type of family member participants Type of family member participants Type of family member participants 6. The great majority of mothers (82.6%), 9. The great majority of mothers (88.6%), fathers fathers (78.8%) and grandparents (90%); (86.1%) and grandparents (81.8%) reported and the majority of other family members that the mediators did not take sides. Other (65.9%) reported that other people at the family members also reported that the medi- mediation listened to them. ators kept a neutral stance (68.8%). f) Other people in mediation listened to me. i) The mediators did not take sides. 100 100 Percent satisﬁed Percent satisfied 80 Percent satisfied Percent satisﬁed 80 60 60 40 82.6 90 88.6 86.1 81.8 78.8 40 65.9 68.8 20 20 0 0 Mothers Mothers Fathers Fathers Grandparents Grand Parents Other Family Other Family Mothers Mothers Fathers Fathers Grandparents Grand Parents Other Family Other Family Members Members Members Members Type of family member participants Type of family member participants Type of family member participants Type of family member participants 23 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report 10. The great majority of mothers (87%), fathers 13. Mothers reported a high sense of full par- (86.1%) and grandparents (90.9%) reported ticipation in the mediation (91.3%). The that the mediators were organized; as did majority of fathers (80%) and grandparents 68.8% of other family members. (70%) also reported full participation, but in lower percentages than other categories. j) The mediators were organized. Other family members reported compara- 100 tively lower, although still substantial, par- ticipation rates (68.1%). Percent satisfied 80 60 87 86.1 90.9 m) I had the chance to fully participate in mediation. 40 68.8 20 100 Percent satisfied 0 80 Mothers Mothers Fathers Fathers Grandparents Grand Parents Other Family Other Family Members 60 Members Type of family member participants 91.3 Type of family member participants 40 80 70 68.1 20 11. The great majority of family participants 0 Mothers Fathers Grandparents Mothers Fathers Grand Parents Other Other Family Family reported that the mediators understood Members Members what the family member was talking about Type of family member participants Type of family member participants (mothers 82.6%; fathers 85.7%; grandparents 80%; and other family members 67.4%). 14. When asked if the mediation helped k) The mediators understood what I was talking about. improve one’s relationship with one or more persons in the room, 53.3% of mothers 100 agreed; 54.3% of fathers; 70% of grandpar- ents; and 52.2% of other family members. Percent satisfied 80 60 Sixteen percent of other family members 40 82.6 85.7 80 67.4 strongly disagreed that mediation helped 20 improve relationships; 6.7% of mothers 0 strongly disagreed (versus 2.9% of fathers Mothers Mothers Fathers Fathers Grandparents Grand Parents Other Family Other Family Members Members and no grandparents). Type of family member participants Type of family member participants n) Mediation helped improve my relationship with one+ n) Mediation helped improve my relationship with persons in room. 12. The great majority of mothers (91.3%), one or more persons in room. 100 fathers (85.7%) and grandparents (90.9%) Percent satisfied 80 reported they were treated with respect. The 60 majority of other family members reported 40 being treated with respect (66.7%). 20 53.3 54.3 70 52.2 l) I was treated with respect. 0 Mothers Mothers Fathers Fathers Grandparents Grand Parents Other Family Other Family Members 100 Members Type of family member participants Type of family member participants Percent satisfied 80 60 40 91.3 85.7 90.9 15 The majority of family participants stated 66.7 20 that the mediation helped with issues they 0 were concerned about (mothers 75.6%; Mothers Mothers Fathers Fathers Grandparents Grand Parents Other Family Other Family Members fathers 69.5%; grandparents 81.8%; and Members Type of family member participants other family members 63%). Type of family member participants 24 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report o) Mediation helped me with issues I was concerned about. r) Whether or not agreement was reached, I understand what others will do. 100 100 Percent satisfied 80 Percent satisfied 80 60 60 40 75.6 81.8 81.8 69.5 63 40 77.7 62.2 63.9 20 20 0 0 Mothers Fathers Grandparents Other Family Mothers Fathers Grandparents Other Family Mothers Fathers Grand Parents Other Family Mothers Fathers Grand Parents Other Family Members Members Members Members Type of family member participants Type of family member participants Type of family member participants Type of family member participants 16. The majority of family participants reported 19 When asked if they would use mediation that the result of the mediation was fair again, 77.3% of mothers, 82.8% of fathers, (mothers 77.3%; fathers 64.4%; grandparents 72.7% of grandparents and 65.2% of other 63.7%; and other family members 65.2%). family members agreed. Those most p) I feel that the result was fair. strongly disagreeing were other family members (19.6%) and mothers (6.8%). 100 s) I would use mediation again. r) Whether or not agreement was reached, I understand Percent satisfied 80 what others will do. 60 100 40 100 77.3 80 percent satisfied 64.4 63.7 65.2 Percent satisfied 80 20 60 60 0 40 77.3 82.8 40 77.7 72.7 81.8 65.2 Mothers Mothers Fathers Fathers Grandparents Grand Parents Other Family Other Family 62.2 63.9 Members Members 20 20 Type of family member participants Type of family member participants 0 0 Mothers Fathers Grandparents Other Family Mothers Mothers Fathers Fathers Grand Parents Grand Parents Other Family Other Family Members Members Members 17. Whether or not an agreement was reached, Type of family member participants Type of family member participants Type of family member participants 78.3% of mothers, 83.4% of fathers, 80% of grandparents and 69.7% of other family 20. When asked if they would recommend members reported that they understood mediation to someone else, 80.5% of what they needed to do next. mothers, 74.3% of fathers, 72.7% of grandparents and 66.7% of other family q) Whether or not agreement was reached, I understand what members responded afﬁrmatively. Those I have to do. most strongly disagreeing with this rec- 100 ommendation were other family members 90 (20%) and grandparents (9.1%). Percent satisfied 80 70 60 50 83.4 t) I would recommend mediation to someone else. 40 78.3 80 69.7 30 20 100 10 Percent satisfied Mothers Mothers Fathers Fathers Grandparents Grand Parents Other Family Other Family 80 Members Members 60 Type of family member participants Type of family member participants 40 80.5 74.3 72.7 66.7 20 18 Whether or not agreement was reached, 0 62.2% of mothers, 77.7% of fathers, 81.8% Mothers Mothers Fathers Fathers Grandparents Grand Parents Other Family Other Family Members of grandparents and 63.9% of other family Type of family member participants Members members reported that they understood Type of family member participants what other people will do next. 25 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report In summary, the evaluation of the media- return, calculated as a response rate (9.1%), tors by family members was generally very provides an inadequate representation of child positive. Mediators were rated to be good lis- and youth attendance. Therefore, these seven sat- teners, understanding, providers of informa- isfaction measures were withheld from analysis. tion, organized, respectful and neutral. Future research should address the issue of how Mediation, overall, was viewed most posi- best to assess child and youth experience with tively and strongly by mothers and fathers. As the child protection mediation process. one mother reported: Attorneys “I learned a great deal about acceptance, brainstorming and facing my situation with The PPMP Program mediation sessions honor and respect.” included a number of attorneys. At the con- clusion of each mediation session, attorneys But, even though the great majority of were given evaluation forms to gain their per- family participants were positive, a small spective on their mediation experience. These number reported less helpful experiences. In attorneys represented ﬁve sets of clients. The the words of another mother: highest number of attorneys providing eval- uation data were attorneys for the children— “… by no fault of the mediators, mediation Lawyer Guardians Ad Litem (LGAL; n=63). was pointless considering the opinions of The second most frequent responses came from the persons involved.” prosecuting attorneys or attorneys represent- ing the Family Independence Agency (FIA; Overall, the group of 48 “Other family n=44). members” (aunts, uncles, girlfriends) reported Evaluations were reviewed from 38 attor- the lowest rates of satisfaction. Such family neys representing the mother in the case; 20 members may have felt marginal to the medi- attorneys for the father; and eight attorneys ation discussion and less able to inﬂuence or representing other parties. contribute to the outcome of the mediation: for participant evaluation of mediation Attorney response rates Percent of respondents “Most of this has to start and end at home based on total number at mediation sessions with Dad and son.” in attendance Another explanation is that the mediator might not have known that some of the family members would be attending the mediation session. Types of attorneys Children Attorneys’ evaluations An additional group of family participants Overall, each category of attorneys is children. Overall, the cases studied included described and rated their mediation experi- 77 children in attendance at one or more of 44 ence very favorably: case mediations. The inclusion of minor chil- dren and youth in mediation is important to 1. Over 94% of all attorneys (except attor- address and assess. Only seven participating neys for fathers=75%) stated that they were youth between the ages of 12 and 17 completed given information about mediation before satisfaction with mediation surveys. This small the session began. 26 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report 2. Over 95% of lawyer guardians ad litem, 9 . Over 94% of all attorneys (except for prosecuting attorneys, fathers’ attorneys fathers’—90.9%) stated that the mediators and other attorneys reported mediation was did not take sides during the mediation. explained to them at the beginning of the mediation (92.3% of mothers’ attorneys). 10. Over 90% of all attorneys reported the mediators were organized. 3. Over 90% of all attorneys reported that the mediators listened carefully to the 11. Over 94% of prosecuting attorneys, LGALs attorneys. and attorneys for the mother stated that the mediators understood what the attorneys 4. Over 90% of attorneys (except for fathers’ were talking about. Only slightly fewer attorneys—86.3%) reported that in the attorneys for the father (85.7%) and other mediation, all of the issues important to the attorneys (87.5%) also felt understood by attorney were discussed. the mediators. 5. Over 94% of all of the attorneys (except the 12. Over 90% of all attorneys reported they fathers’—90.9%) reported that the media- were treated with respect (9% of attorneys tors treated everyone fairly. for the fathers reported they were not respected). 6. Over 90% of all attorneys reported that other people listened to them in the media- 13. Over 90% of all attorneys reported they had tion session. the chance to fully participate in mediation (9.5% of fathers’ attorneys disagreed). 7. Over 90% of LGALs, mothers’ attorneys and other attorneys reported that other 14 Approximately 50% of attorneys reported people at the mediation took them seriously. the mediation helped improve relation- Prosecuting attorneys (86%) and fathers’ ships with one or more persons at the medi- attorneys (86.8%) were nearly as positive. ation. Fathers’ attorneys were less likely The prosecuting attorneys were most likely to make this assessment (43.8%) and were to state that they were not taken seriously most inclined to state that relationships (7%). were neither improved nor worsened by mediation (56.2%). g) Other people in mediation took me seriously. g) Other people in mediation my me with one+ n) Mediation helped improve my relationship seriously. persons in n) Mediation helped improvetook relationship with 100 room. one or more persons in room. 100 95 Percent satisfied 100 90 90 90 95 Percent satisfied 90 Percent Satisfied 86.8 80 86 90 90 90 90 85 60 50 50 86 50 86.8 50 43.8 85 40 80 80 20 75 LGALs Prosecuting Mother Father Others 750 attorneys attorneys attorneys attorneys LGALs LGALs Prosecuting Prosecuting Mother Mother Father Father Others Others Attorney groups attorneys attorneys attorneys attorneys attorneys attorneys attorneys attorneys Attorney groups Attorney groups 8. Between 70-80% of attorneys stated that they gained a better understanding of other 15. Approximately 75-80% of all attorneys people’s viewpoints through the media- reported that mediation helped with issues tion. they were concerned about. 27 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report 16. The majority of attorneys assessed that the rience with mediators positively, the overall result of the mediation was fair (prosecu- assessment of mediation’s helpfulness and tors, 85.7%; LGALs, 82.8%; mothers’ attor- fairness was rated slightly lower yet still posi- neys, 78.9%; fathers’ attorneys, 71.4%; other, tive. Nearly all attorneys, particularly LGALs, 100%). reported they would use mediation again and g) Other p) I feel that the result was fair. people in mediation took me seriously. would recommend mediation to others. 100 100 100 82.8 85.7 78.9 80 95 71.4 Percent Satisfied Relationship to child welfare Percent satisfied 90 90 90 60 90 86 86.8 85 40 80 20 In permanency planning mediation, the role 75 0 of the Children’s Protective Services worker or LGALs LGALs Prosecuting Prosecuting attorneys Mother Mother attorneys Father Father attorneys Others Others attorneys foster care worker is crucial as these profession- attorneys attorneys attorneys attorneys Attorney groups Attorney Groups als oftentimes have signiﬁcant responsibility for the assessment of the safety and well- 17. Over 80% reported that they know what being of vulnerable children. The child wel- they have to do next. fare worker’s overall goal for children includes achieving permanency in a timely manner and 18. 80% or more understand what other people assuring that the child has a safe home with will do next, following mediation. caregivers committed to the child’s well-being. Consequently, child welfare workers are key 19. Over 90% of all attorneys reported they participants in mediation. would use mediation again. Attorneys for A high number of child welfare profes- fathers were least likely to use mediation sionals attended mediation sessions. Partici- again, with 90.9% reporting they would pants included: caseworkers from the Michigan use mediation again and 9.1% indicating Family Independence Agency (n=98); FIA chil- strongly that they would not use mediation dren’s services supervisors and other children’s again. LGALs were most positive. services employees, including delinquency, foster care, adoption workers (n=9) and other 20. Over 90% of all attorneys reported they unspeciﬁed FIA employees (n=3); casework- would recommend mediation to someone ers and others from private, or voluntary, child else, with LGALs most positive and fathers’ welfare agencies and public/private K-12 edu- attorneys most likely not to recommend cation (n=31); and foster or adoptive parents (again, the vast majority responded posi- (n=15). Their assessments of the mediation pro- tively). cess and outcome were gathered immediately after the mediation sessions were completed. Attorneys evaluated the mediators very Response rates varied widely. positively, with the great majority afﬁrming FIA and human services response rate for participant the neutrality, listening skills and organiza- evaluation of mediation tional skills of the mediators, regardless of the attorney’s role or client. Even those with Percent of respondents based on total number at mediation sessions the least positive assessment of mediation— in attendance fathers’ attorneys—still overall rated the medi- ation process and mediators’ skills positively. Mediation was less often reported to build or improve relationships among participants. Although the great majority rated the expe- Type of human services professional 28 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report FIA caseworkers one else, 91.7% of workers said that they would recommend mediation; 5% said they would With regard to the PPMP Program’s rela- not recommend mediation. tionship with FIA caseworkers, caseworkers rated the mediators and the mediators’ skill Other professionals and conduct of the sessions very highly. Case- workers reported they were given informa- In addition to FIA caseworkers, other FIA tion before the mediation (92.8%); mediation children’s services workers provided their eval- was explained at the beginning of the session uation of mediation based on having attended (93.8%); mediators listened carefully to the a mediation. These other FIA workers were caseworker (92.7%), understood the FIA work- comprised of children’s services supervisors er’s views and position (90.8%), treated every- and other children’s services employees, (n=9) one fairly (92.9%), were neutral (91.8%) and and other unspeciﬁed FIA employees (n=3). were organized (91.9%). Most likely at least The majority of other FIA employees (64%) a partial reﬂection of the FIA caseworkers’ at the mediation and other non-FIA human assessment of the mediator, 92.8% stated that service professionals (84%) reported they were they were treated respectfully at the mediation given information about the mediation before session (6% stated they were not respected). the mediation. Slightly higher numbers of With regard to their experience at the medi- other professionals reported having mediation ation, FIA caseworkers reported that the issues explained by the mediators at the beginning of that were important to them were talked about the mediation (67% and 87%). (88.3%); they stated that other people listened With regard to the assessment of the medi- to the FIA worker (88.7%); and that other ators, the majority of other professionals stated people at the mediation took the FIA worker that the mediator listened carefully to them seriously (86.4%). The great majority of work- (FIA 67%; other 90%). Almost one-third of ers stated they fully participated in mediation other FIA workers (not including caseworkers) (91.8%). Most workers noted that whether or stated they were not listened to carefully (com- not there was an agreement as a result of the pared to 6% of caseworkers). The assessment mediation, there was an understanding about of mediators with regard to treating everyone what the worker had to do next (87.4%) and fairly, mediator neutrality, mediator under- what other people had to do next (89.5%). With standing of the other professional and media- regard to the outcome of the mediation, 82.6% tor organization reﬂected similar assessments. judged that the result of the mediation was fair Approximately one-third of FIA employees (7% did not think the outcome was fair). (not including caseworkers) reported a neg- The majority of FIA caseworkers (76.3%) ative response to the mediator. When asked stated that they gained a better understanding if they were treated with respect, a slightly of others’ points of view at the mediation (9.3% higher number responded positively (75%). stated they did not gain a better understanding Other non-FIA human service professionals through the mediation sessions). Sixty-three generally reported very high satisfaction with percent of FIA caseworkers reported that their the mediators and a sense of respectful treat- relationship with one or more persons at the ment (90%). mediation improved through the mediation. With regard to the outcome of the media- When asked if they would use mediation tion, 67% of other FIA professionals (in con- again, 90.7% of FIA caseworkers reported that trast with 83% of caseworkers) stated that the they would; 7.3% said they would not. With result was fair; 33% did not think the outcome regard to recommending mediation to some- was fair. For other professionals, 77% stated 29 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report the outcome was fair. With regard to using • Other factors that could be identiﬁed mediation again, 67% of other FIA profession- through further study. Other studies als (in contrast with 91% of caseworkers) stated have noted that there is considerable they would use mediation again; 84% of other resistance to the concept of mediation professionals said they would use mediation among many professionals, so a nega- again. These results were exactly the same with tive predisposition toward mediation by regard to recommending mediation to some- some professionals would not be sur- one else. prising. Overall, FIA caseworkers (CPS and foster care) were strongly positive about the Perhaps the more important ﬁndings from mediators, the mediation process and the the Michigan experience are the high rates outcome of the mediation sessions. This overall of satisfaction expressed by caseworkers and satisfaction was also expressed by the other most other child welfare and other human ser- human service professionals at the mediation. vice professionals. These two groups represented 91% of the child welfare and human service professionals Foster and adoptive parents at the mediation (non-legal, non-family participants). The participants who reported the least sat- The majority of professionals from FIA, isfaction with mediation were persons asso- who were not caseworkers and who attended ciated with the child welfare system through the mediation, reported a very positive assess- their important role as foster parents and adop- ment of the mediation. However, in rather tive parents. Based on feedback from 15 foster stark contrast to other mediation participants, and adoptive parents: one-third of these professionals consistently reported a measure of dissatisfaction. Why • More reported gaining information about were these professionals less satisﬁed? There mediation before and at the beginning of may be a number of explanations: mediation (73%) than did other FIA pro- fessionals. • This was a small number of respon- dents, so a small number of discontented • Foster and adoptive parents also were people would produce a larger effect; more likely to report that the mediator listened to them, understood them, were • These persons may not have a central, neutral and organized (73%). direct role in the case, so they may have less of a relationship with the partici- • However, although a majority reported pants at the mediation and may have that other people listened to them and been less informed about the case and took them seriously (60%), this was the the mediation due to their more tangen- lowest participant rate of satisfaction. tial role in the work with the family; • Most foster and adoptive parents • With multiple participants in a medi- reported they did not gain a better under- ation session, mediators may need to standing of others’ points of view (60%). prioritize their attention to the direct par- ticipants in the conﬂict and the agree- • Nor did they understand what other ment, others may feel more marginal to people were to do next after the media- the discussion and agreement; and tion (53%). 30 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report • The majority reported that mediation did committed to and presumably to some not help improve relationships with one degree attached to children but, by def- or more persons in the room (57%). inition, children in foster care or adop- tive placement are not in a permanent • The majority (57%) reported that medi- placement. Some foster and adoptive ation helped with issues the foster or parents may be hopeful or ambivalent adoptive parent was concerned about, about becoming a permanent home for but 36% disagreed. the children in their care; and • The majority (67%) stated the result of • Other factors not determined. the mediation was fair. Comparative satisfaction across • Sixty percent (60%) reported they would stakeholder groups use mediation again, and 60% would rec- ommend mediation to others. The participant evaluation items were examined for reliability and found to have an Again, the majority of foster and adoptive acceptable level of internal reliability* (Cron- parents reported a positive assessment of the bach’s a = .985). Each of 20 questions about mediator and generally positive experience their experience of mediation and the medi- and outcome. However, compared to child ators used a ﬁve point scale from strongly welfare agency workers and to family mem- disagree to strongly agree. A total score was cal- bers, foster and adoptive parents were the least culated for each respondent. Computed scores likely to be satisﬁed with mediation. Why? across the 20 items on the evaluation form There are several possible explanations: ranged from a low of 20 to a high of 100. The mean level of satisfaction based on 444 partici- • Similar to the satisfaction ﬁndings for pant evaluations was 81.4 (sd=19.7). The most other FIA professionals, there was a small frequent total score value was 100, accounting number of respondents, so the less posi- for 10.6% of the respondents. tive experiences of a few parents would The mean satisfaction of family members produce a greater effect; was compared to the mean satisfaction of attor- neys and child welfare personnel. The three • Similarly, foster and adoptive parents groups were statistically signiﬁcantly differ- may have felt (and may have been ent, as revealed by a one-way analysis of vari- treated) as more marginal to the discus- ance (F=12.4, df (2,441), p < .001). Further sion and agreement than other media- analysis of paired group comparisons (using tion participants; a Scheffe post-hoc test) found that family members (mothers, fathers, grandparents and • Foster and adoptive parents may have others, taken together) had a signiﬁcantly more complicated relationships with lower average satisfaction (M=75.1) than either family members; group of professional participants, attorneys (M=86.1) and child welfare/human services • Foster and adoptive parents have a com- professionals (M=82.5). Taken as whole, family plex role and status as persons who are members had an overall mean rate of satisfac- *Cronbach’s alpha values between .60 and 1.00 indicate that the questions measure related aspects of the same phenomenon and can be combined by adding them together to create a total score. 31 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report tion of 75.1 (as compared to 86.1 for attorneys tor perceptions of child protection mediation and 82.5 for child welfare personnel). effectiveness. Comparison of average evaluation ratings 1. What is your perception of the effective- for mediation participant stakeholder groups ness of mediation in child protection/foster Stakeholder groups Means Group sizes care cases? Full sample 81.4 444 Family members 75.1 141 Child welfare/human 2. In your opinion, does mediation have an services/education 82.5 147 effect on the time it takes for a child to Attorneys 86.1 156 reach permanency in comparison to cases that are not mediated? Although comparatively lower than profes- sionals, the rate of satisfaction of family mem- 3. What impact, if any, has child protection bers was high and at least matched the goal mediation had regarding parental compli- of the California study. An examination of spe- ance with court orders? ciﬁc categories shows that the rate of satisfac- tion among parents (mothers and fathers) was 4. What is your perception of the impact, if even higher. any, that mediation has had on relation- No routine collection of satisfaction or par- ships between the child welfare system ticipant assessments of their experiences exists stakeholders in your community, i.e., FIA, for other court-related services; it is not pos- families, foster families, private agency sible to compare these satisfaction rates with workers, prosecutor’s ofﬁce, LGALs, other family evaluations of other court services. attorneys and the court? However, the rates of satisfaction reported in this study are comparable to the satisfac- 5. What advice would you give another FIA tion that family members express concerning county ofﬁce that was interested in imple- other non-adversarial, conﬂict resolution inno- menting the Permanency Planning Media- vations such as family preservation or family tion Program? reuniﬁcation programs. Satisfaction rates also are comparable, or superior to, rates of satisfac- These questions mirror the questionnaires tion reported by other mediation evaluations. sent to judges in the same communities. Responses were received from ﬁve FIA ofﬁces, Public child welfare stakeholder and respondents held various ofﬁce positions. questionnaires Questionnaires were returned by two county directors, two children’s services supervisors To complete the picture of the larger public and one unidentiﬁed position. child welfare perceptions of permanency plan- With regard to FIA perceptions of using ning mediation, a brief questionnaire was used. mediation in child protection cases, three Questionnaires were sent to all local county respondents believed permanency planning FIA ofﬁces afﬁliated with the PPMP Program mediation was effective. sites and family courts. Letters requesting input from each county FIA and a copy of the instru- “Of the cases mediated, there appears to ment were sent by email and fax to nine FIA be enhanced communications between FIA ofﬁces. The questionnaire posed ﬁve questions and the parents as well as other players regarding FIA’s thoughts and experiences with at the table. Having everyone in the room the PPMP Program. The series of open-ended with skilled mediators allows everyone to questions assessed supervisor or administra- get their issues expressed in a fairly “safe” 32 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report environment, and the participants are more a response. One of these respondents also indi- likely to actually hear what is being said.” cated that an effect on time to permanency was shown for only 25% of cases that had media- “Very effective, it allows both the agency, tion. This supervisor did indicate that media- family and parties involved to reach an tion: agreement over the petition. Often parents will agree to a petition after the wording of “has given parties an opportunity to have the petition is changed to suit all parties.” their questions answered and concerns addressed. There have been parties that once “My perception is that it has been effective they had a more clear understanding of in allowing all parties to be heard and all what was expected of them who would then issues to be covered. The facilitators are be more cooperative and work better with knowledgeable, and the court has been coop- others or realize that they weren’t capable of erative.” the demands/expectations.” Two respondents indicated that mediation The perceived impact of mediation on may be more appropriate or effective for foster parental compliance was mixed. The unique- care cases. ness of responses warrants sharing the exact responses. “In foster care cases, it has been effective by providing a safe forum to discuss issues “This depends on the case, those that are that would take too long to discuss in a court very compliant would have probably have hearing.” been compliant either way.“ All respondents believe that, at least for “Some parents are not compliant even some if not many cases, mediation was effec- though they attended mediation and agreed tive. Effectiveness was uniformly attributed to to the decisions.” the opportunity afforded by mediation to have all parties discuss issues and concerns in a safe “…the parents remain uncooperative, or neutral space that allows time for discussion though they verbalized a willingness to and agreement or willingness. One respondent comply with the recommendations in medi- described mediation in this way: ation. They continue to be resistant.” “One of the main things I think it does is “There seems to be more compliance with to assist in educating parents on the court court orders once the parents are able to rec- system and how things work.” ognize that FIA is not “out to get them” or just being mean to them. Once the commu- With regard to time to permanency, one nication lines are open, the plan of action to respondent indicated that, having only limited achieve a safe return moves forward.” experiences with the PPMP Program: “At pre- and post-dispositional hearings, “Mediation did not facilitate the time to we have outlined what the agency and the reach permanency.” courts expect, this has been very valuable in cases that are brought to the attention of the Two additional responses indicated that court. It makes everyone aware of the expec- their experiences had been too few in number, tations of the family. It allows all parties to or that not enough time had passed to warrant have input or court orders and increases the 33 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report families’ compliance with orders.” staff to understand that PPMP does not decide whether abuse/neglect has occurred, “… all mediation sessions provide an oppor- it helps to determine what happens to the tunity to have clarity on expectations which child and family after that determination is does have an impact.” made by FIA. Being willing to listen to all parties and opinions about the best interest These comments reﬂect an overall senti- of the child and family is strength-based and ment that the PPMP Program is effective in solution-focused, not being “right.” at least some cases. The impact of the PPMP Program is noted as being in regard to enhanc- Finally, with regard to advice they would ing communication and understanding among offer to another FIA ofﬁce interested in imple- parties. Despite a mixed response to the effec- menting permanency planning mediation: tiveness of the PPMP Program for decreasing time to permanency or its effect on parental “I would advise them to elicit the support compliance, FIA ofﬁces acknowledge increased and commitment of the court.” understanding as a beneﬁt of using mediation in child protection. “Make sure that the funding source is stable With respect to the impact of permanency and secure. Our PPMP Program is con- planning mediation on relationships among stantly in danger of losing funding and child welfare system stakeholders in their com- losing the gains made. The SCAO should munity, respondents identiﬁed the importance recognize this need and fund the projects of cooperation among the involved agencies. accordingly. We have a great relationship Several individuals indicated that the PPMP with our [local CDRP] program, and we Program had improved or built upon relation- beneﬁt from an effective coordinator. It’s ships among professionals involved in child important to work closely with an indepen- welfare in their communities. Without details, dent and impartial mediation service, and one noted that good relationships had already this is a project that cannot work if one of existed in the community and that, in some the players oversees it. This helps parents instances, these relationships became strained feel they are equal partners and players.” after one or more mediations. One respondent shared a more detailed answer: “Everything is positive, mediation saves time, energy and money. I have nothing but “[Our] County has not had that many cases positive statements about mediation.” involved in PPMP, and my opinion is based on the outcomes and progress that [a neigh- “Take the opportunity to use the program boring] County has made and my own as a means to resolve things that the court personal experience as a CPS and Foster doesn’t have time for. It is an excellent Care Specialist in three counties. I recall method of getting parties together to arrive that the most successful resolutions, both at solutions aimed at bringing the case to return home and stable permanent place- permanency and minimizing confusion on ments, were achieved only when there was gray areas.” a solid working relationship among all the parties listed and the level of communica- “Give it a try!” tion was high. PPMP offered that to families to help them gain a better understanding The importance of having the support of what is happening and why. It is also and/or cooperation of other stakeholders, important for public and private agency such as the court and attorneys, was implied 34 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report or directly noted across the ﬁve questions child welfare systems. These groups provided answered by responding counties. Overall, PPMP Programs the opportunity to orient new public child welfare workers, supervisors and professionals, e.g., newly-elected judges, pros- administrators perceived permanency plan- ecutors, court-appointed attorneys and public/ ning mediation as a positive service with good private child protection administrators and results in terms of parent understanding and offer routine review of the purpose and uses for participation and as a cooperative forum for a PPMP Program within each sector of the child stakeholders to support family participation welfare system. The integrity of these groups and compliance in achieving timely perma- and stakeholder commitment to making alter- nency for their children. native dispute resolution a permanent, acces- sible aspect of each community’s child welfare system, were described as necessary precon- Local program impact ditions for successfully implementing a PPMP Program. Interviews with PPMP Program coordina- Successful maintenance of a PPMP Pro- tors and other CDRP staff provided insight gram within the child welfare system was into the implementation of child protection dependent upon regular contact of PPMP mediation in the communities and judicial cir- Program coordinators with each stakeholder cuits served by the seven PPMP Program sites. group and individual judges. Repeat partici- CDRP Centers described the implementation pation in mediations also was described as an of their programs across as much as a three- important means for institutionalizing the use year time span between program startup and of a PPMP Program and obtaining referrals evaluation. Their reports included lessons they from non-court sources, such as the prosecu- had learned, things they would do differently, tor’s ofﬁce or foster care workers. lessons they learned about introducing and All programs described challenges to the providing a PPMP Program, things they would implementation and expansion of the PPMP do again or would recommend to other agen- Program. Although speciﬁc barriers varied by cies planning to implement a similar program community and over time, a common thread in their own community. indicated recurring obstacles. Since prosecu- The predominant and most widely shared tors and judges are elected ofﬁcials, turnover observation concerned the importance of in the judiciary and prosecutor’s ofﬁce pre- having at least one judge to champion the use sented an ongoing challenge to the survival of permanency planning mediation. Without a and growth of a PPMP Program in any given judge willing to make referrals to mediation community. In addition, the high turnover of and compel all parties to participate in good child welfare workers within the public child faith, the implementation of a PPMP Program protection sector (CPS and Foster Care) pre- was described as difﬁcult, at best, and, more sented a challenge since new, often young, inex- often, as nearly impossible. Having the sup- perienced workers, continually were coming port of other key court personnel, i.e., court into the local system. Turnover among child administrators, court clerks, was also described welfare supervisors and administrators also as extremely important or helpful. The judges’ affected the use and development of the PPMP support was essential. Program. All programs had a multi-stakeholder com- These two realities, one political, the other mittee or group that met a number of times service-based, were referenced widely by the throughout each year. These groups were PPMP Program sites. Each site was able to described as critical for cultivating ongoing describe either successful activities or proce- support for the PPMP Program within local dures they followed and would use again, or 35 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report things they would do differently if they could of programs described strong positive implement the program over again. These sug- relationships with each stakeholder group. The gestions will be compiled and appear in a next most common type of relationship is subsequent description of PPMP Program best described as either mixed positive and negative practices based upon the Michigan experi- or non-interactive. There were no reports of ence. strained or negative relationships with any An additional picture of the local impact of the courts, legal system professionals or and connections related to mediation can be child welfare workers in public and private provided through an eco-map—a diagram- agencies. matic representation of mediation center rela- tionships with community stakeholders. (See Appendix C.) Five out of seven PPMP Pro- Court perceptions of the gram coordinators (n=5) reported on the exist- mediation process ing relationship between their program and various sectors of the child welfare system in A survey of Michigan family court judges each county they serve. Two programs did (n=9) with some experience with mediation not have a coordinator available to complete yielded a judicial perspective on permanency the assessment. These ﬁve programs served planning mediation. Questionnaires were sent and reported on relationships in nine different to judges in the courts that have a PPMP counties. Program to which they can refer cases for The chart below summarizes the nature mediation. The brief survey contained seven of relationships within the nine communities open-ended questions, which were emailed by child welfare stakeholder groups within and faxed to the identiﬁed courts. Judges local child welfare systems. A solid majority replied by email, fax and postal mail. The Frequency for the reported nature and strength of stakeholder relationships between PPMP programs in nine communities, as reported by PPMP coordinators at ﬁve program sites Nature and strength of relationships between PPMP program and indicated stakeholder groups Community Strong, Mixed Tenuous, Stressful, child welfare system positive or no strained negative stakeholder groups relationship relationship relationship relationship Families Involved with Child Welfare Parents 9 Relatives 8 1 Court/Legal System Family Division Court 8 1 Prosecutor’s Ofﬁce 9 Lawyer Guardians Ad Litem 8 1 Attorneys for Parent(s) 1 N/A 8 Child Welfare Workers Public CPS 9 Public Foster Care 9 Child Welfare Agencies 3 N/A 6 Foster Parents 8 1 CASA 2 N/A 7 36 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report response rate (90%) was high. Nine out of 10 to effectiveness, parental compliance, cost questionnaires were returned. effectiveness and overall utility. Responding Judges were asked to respond to the fol- judges provided the following assessment of lowing questions: mediation: With regard to effectiveness, four judges • What is your perception of the effec- noted that the PPMP Program was very effective. tiveness of mediation in child protection This effectiveness was particularly noted in cases? moving cases from contested adjudication to pleas; in breaking down barriers and promoting • In your opinion, does mediation have less adversarial decision-making; and in an effect on the time it takes for a child promoting full discussion and attempting to to reach permanency in comparison to ﬁnd their (family) own solutions. One of these cases that are not mediated? judges noted a PPMP Program can completely resolve a case, resolve speciﬁc issues in a case, • What impact, if any, has child protection or lead to a “delayed impact,” with agreements mediation had regarding parental com- reached a short time after mediation. Another pliance with court orders? judge noted that mediation is effectively used routinely and is requested by contract • What is your perception of the impact, attorneys. if any, that mediation has had on Three judges categorized mediation as relationships between the child welfare somewhat effective—more effective than some system stakeholders in your community, people thought but not a cure for all cases; some i.e., FIA, families, foster families, private successes but expensive due to attorney time; agency workers, prosecutor’s ofﬁce, and some positive results and some negative LGALs, other attorneys and the court? results. Another judge stated that mediation had not been effective due to resistance from • Do you perceive that there are cost or child welfare professionals. time savings when mediation is used in With regard to mediation’s effect on time to child protection cases? permanency, ﬁve judges answered there was a positive effect by engaging families in timely • At what point/event do you consider a decision-making (rather than waiting for court case has achieved permanency? dates) and removing emotional obstacles and promoting cooperation. One judge noted it • What advice would you give another affects time positively only if the parties reach court that was interested in implement- a mediated agreement. One of these judges ing the Permanency Planning Mediation noted that in some cases, people who fail to Pilot Program? achieve timely permanency would likely fail regardless of the circumstances. Two judges Levels of experience with permanency noted particular points of time when media- planning mediation varied approximately from tion was effective in achieving permanency: one to ten referrals in the lower range and 24 to 48 referrals in the higher range of experience. “For cases in which children will return to Extent of experience did appear to be related to their parents, mediation can speed up the judicial perceptions of permanency planning process by avoiding adjudication or negoti- mediation; greater experience corresponded to ating conditions of the child’s return home. more positive endorsements and assessments For cases involving a request to terminate of permanency planning mediation with regard parental rights, mediation can avoid the 37 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report delays involved in conducting a hearing “I believe the process routinely results on a termination petition and more impor- in huge savings in court time and in tantly, avoid the time consumed to resolve attorney fees…avoiding a contested adju- the appeals that often follow a termination.” dication saves $7,000-$10,000 in attorney fees. Avoiding a contested termination and “Primarily by shortening the early resolu- appeal saves another $10,000-$15,000.” tion by resolving adjudication and disposi- tional issues at the same time, mediation “Each of these hearings has at least a can cause a gain of as many as 90 days of lawyer, guardian ad litem, plus one, two or services in cases adjudicated.” three other court-appointed attorneys. The savings can be signiﬁcant.” One judge indicated that it was not possi- ble to tell if mediation affected time to perma- Or due to reduction in length of placement nency. Two judges responded that mediation for children: did not affect time to permanency. With regard to mediation’s impact on parental “The most important time savings is getting compliance, ﬁve judges noted that mediation a dispositional order in place sooner to increases parental compliance as the process allow for a full year of services before the enhances parental understanding of the plan permanency planning hearing.” and its importance. Two of these judges noted that the agreement provides a solid basis One judge said that there was no cost to remind parents of the plan elements and savings; one said that hadn’t been the court’s re-establish compliance when necessary. One experience yet; one stated it was difﬁcult to judge was uncertain, one judge had no infor- say due to the incomplete implementation of mation available for comparison, and one judge mediation; one said there were not savings in said that mediation does not have an impact regard to court time, but there were savings, on parental compliance. when agreements were reached, as the length With regard to mediation’s impact on the child of out-of-home placements was reduced. welfare system, four judges noted a positive impact As noted earlier, there are differing perma- attributable to an enhanced spirit of cooperation nency definitions among professionals and across and lessening of confrontation and antagonism sectors of child welfare systems. Judges were between caseworkers and family members asked to describe their own deﬁnition of per- and between caseworkers and attorneys. Two manency in order to document the variety of judges observed no impact on the child welfare judicial deﬁnitions. With regard to the point system; one judge was uncertain; and one at which permanency has been achieved, there judge noted that there was little impact because were a range of responses: when a child is good working relationships already existed. returned home or rights have been terminated; With regard to cost savings, four judges when a case is closed; when there is a return stated that mediation results in cost savings. home and a monitoring period has ended; These savings were attributable to fewer attor- return home, guardianship, longer-term foster ney hours (hence, lower fees), fewer foster care care, or termination and adoption; when the days, fewer trials, avoiding unnecessary hear- child is placed in a situation that is intended to ings and fewer hearings as plea and disposi- be permanent; there are many facets to perma- tional issues take place in one hearing. The two nency—it is speciﬁc to each case. themes were that costs are lessened due to a When asked what advice would you give to reduction of court costs: other courts with regard to mediation, judges replied: 38 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report “Talk to judges involved.” ated with the PPMP Program and present an assessment of costs. “Contact a judge who is using it….” In Michigan, the average length of a perma- nency planning mediation session was three “Even though it seems repugnant to abuse/ hours. This length of time ranged from 30 min- neglect scenarios, review the materials on utes to seven hours and 45 minutes. The aver- the program and different points it can be age amount of time that paid staff spent on used and give it a try.” a mediation case was six hours (ranging from one hour to 59 hours); and this included intake, “Be very detailed in the planning with con- assessment, mediation arrangements, paper- crete guidelines for length of time of media- work and follow-up. The average amount of tion and for timing of the mediation case.” time that volunteer mediators spent on cases was ﬁve hours (including time in mediation for “Put resources elsewhere.” up to two mediators). There was considerable variability from case to case, but an average “Do a better job of educating all the players mediation case would require approximately before beginning, so they are all willing to 11 hours (including time expended by both use the process.” paid staff and/or mediator volunteers). Assessing cost savings requires looking at: “Ignore the initial negative reaction by attorneys and social workers.” • The cost of mediation versus the cost of traditional court services; and “Assure attorneys that the court will not force mediation to avoid trials.” • Savings for the child welfare system (court and child welfare agency) attrib- “Design a system that assures conﬁdential- utable to reduced length of placements ity of the mediation process.” and achievement of permanency for chil- dren. The majority of judges reported positive experiences and assessments of mediation. Sev- Court costs eral expressed a mixed assessment. Each judge provided advice to other courts based on their An essential element in computing the cost experience. and cost savings associated with permanency planning mediation is the ability to compute: Cost and time implications • The average cost to the social service or child welfare agency for a contested Pioneering programs aim to demonstrate court hearing; cost savings over expenses associated with traditional approaches. Most child protection • The average cost to the judiciary for a mediation programs claim they result in sig- contested hearing; niﬁcant cost savings for courts. However, it is sometimes difﬁcult to be precise about this • The average cost to the judiciary for non- savings. There is also the risk that legitimate contested cases; and expenses would be overlooked or other bene- ﬁts to the court would be left out of the picture. • The average cost of a permanency plan- This discussion will describe the time associ- ning mediation. 39 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report In Michigan, with what degree of validity • Related to the judge’s (or referee’s) time; can one calculate: • Multiple attorneys’ time; • The average costs associated with a contested child protection case? • Other court costs; and • The average costs associated with a non- • Overhead. contested hearing(s)? In Michigan, attorney costs differ from • Can one assume that each mediation case county to county and may differ depending prevents a contested hearing? on the time/place in the court process, con- tract terms or other conditions. In the counties • What time and cost savings result from included in this evaluation, attorney costs were streamlining or expediting other court paid in a variety of ways. Some attorneys processes? received hourly remuneration ranging from $30 to $100 per hour. • To what extent is it possible to calculate In other jurisdictions, attorney costs were these costs given that the mediation is paid based on per court event fees, ranging used at a variety of points in the child from $225 for attendance at mediation sessions protection continuum in Michigan? to $500 for an entire case, i.e., from prelimi- nary hearing to court case termination. These • To what extent is it possible to calculate ﬁgures are associated with a speciﬁc point in these costs given the variation of court- time—Fall 2003—and are subject to variation related expenses from Michigan county within counties, based on special or individual to county? circumstances and over time (see Note 2). As attorneys are generally reimbursed for The average cost of a child protective con- work related to mediation, the cost of media- tested hearing for the child welfare agency will tion with regard to attorney costs is in relation include: to number of hours as opposed to rate of pay. The average duration of a mediation is three • Expenses related to child welfare worker hours. The average hourly rate of pay for a time, i.e., CPS, foster care, adoption Michigan attorney appointed to a child protec- workers; tive case would range from $30-100 an hour. For the study purposes, we will assume an • Expenses related to legal representation average hourly rate of $55, so the average attor- for the agency; ney cost for mediation would be $165. In Michigan, standard attorney time for • Costs associated with expert testimony preparation and presentations in an or other gathering of evidence; and uncontested child protection case and a contested court case have not been determined. • Administrative costs (supervision, travel, Given the same hourly rate as with mediation staff support, etc.). (not always the case, as in some jurisdictions there is a reduced rate for mediation The average cost of a child protective reimbursement), savings on attorney costs contested hearing for the court will include would be realized if the billable hours for an expenses: uncontested or contested hearing exceeded, on average, three hours, and if those proceedings 40 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report could have been reduced or prevented by Cost savings related to permanency mediation. The cost associated with a Michigan judge To attempt to answer the question about the has not been determined. To the extent that timeliness of permanency and if it is enhanced judge and court room time and personnel are through mediation, some comparisons can be needed on a case that could have been reduced made: or prevented through mediation, mediation According to federal AFCARS data, the results in cost savings. A contested case and median length of stay in foster care in the state trial could result in a number of hours of of Michigan in the year 2000 was 15.3 months judge time. There are additional court and trial (approximately 467 days) (see Note 3). expenses (staff expenses, witnesses and expert According to federal AFCARS data, the witnesses, etc.). There are reductions in the length of time to achieve permanency in Mich- demands on a judge’s time as a result of suc- igan differed based on permanency outcome cessful mediations, but there are no savings in (Year 2000). The median length of time to dollar costs because the judge is being paid achieve reuniﬁcation with parents was 10.4 the same amount to work on other matters. months (approximately 312 days). The median Although not a money savings, this is judicial length of time to achieve a ﬁnalized adoption economy. was 29.6 months (approximately 888 days). Consequently, mediation program savings = The median length of time to achieve guard- judiciary expenses [(attorney hourly costs X ianship was 10.6 months (approximately 318 number of hours X number of attorneys) + days). (judge costs X number of hours) + (court costs In the PPMP Program, the median length of and trial expenses) + (overhead)] plus/+ child time from petition to permanency for all cases welfare agency costs [(children’s services work- (foster care, adoption, guardianship) was 14.5 er’s hourly rate X number of hours for court months. The median length of time to perma- work/trial and associated agency expenses nency for all cases from referral to mediation related to supervision and overhead) X number to permanency was 8.5 months. This compares of children’s services workers)] minus/- medi- favorably to the Michigan AFCARS median ation costs [(attorney hourly costs X number of of 15.3 months of out-of-home placement (for hours X number of attorneys) + (costs associ- children in foster care only). ated with mediators, including supervision) + The average length of time to reuniﬁcation (child welfare agency hourly rate X number of was nine months (the average is often higher hours X number of workers) + (overhead)]. than the median) and 15.75 months from peti- Add to this equation any savings related tion to permanency, on average; compared to to reduced time in out-of-home care (foster a median of 10.4 months in AFCARS data. The boarding home rates, worker time, additional average length of time to adoption was 13.25 administrative time and costs, other related months following mediation and 19 months expenses) that result from mediation. Consid- from time to petition to permanency, com- ering the length of time that a child is in out-of- pared to a median of 29.6 months according home care and the ways that time varies, based to AFCARS data; and less than seven months on cases receiving mediation or not, affects from mediation to permanency and 13 months costs. from petition, compared to AFCARS medians Also important to note, as in the Connecti- of 10.6 months for guardianship. This is a very cut mediation program (1999), even when there tentative comparison. Although it is difﬁcult to is not a mediated agreement, the mediation compare, the time from mediation to perma- process can result in clariﬁed issues and, there- nency appears to provide fewer days in foster fore, time savings in relation to court costs. care and awaiting adoption. This time savings 41 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report is particularly noted in adoption cases when contested), this saves attorney time and counting from time of petition or time from expense. Mediation signiﬁcantly reduces mediation to permanency. judge time and court costs if agreements The Michigan Family Independence can be reached outside of court. Agency reported an average cost for out-of- home placement per child in foster care in 2002 In addition, mediation costs are modest was $1,732.43 (see Note 4). So, on average, due, in part, to the use of voluntary trained if mediation prevented a child from entering mediators in Michigan. This practice increases foster care, it resulted in an annual savings the cost savings associated with permanency of $1,732.43 per child based on this average planning mediation in Michigan. If in a number (not including administrative costs). Other of cases, the time in out-of-home placement programs have calculated greater savings. can be reduced and the time to permanency is even slightly accelerated, signiﬁcant addi- • To the extent that mediation reduces tional cost savings are achieved through per- the length of time in care by returning manency planning mediation. children to their biological parents, Due to the multiple factors to be consid- negotiating guardianship arrangements, ered, hidden costs and county variability, the placing the children in relative care, ability to calculate the precise ﬁnancial sav- or voluntary relinquishment of parental ings for Michigan due to permanency plan- rights then signiﬁcant ﬁnancial savings ning mediation may remain elusive. However, are achieved. concluding that there is a ﬁnancial savings to be gained from mediation, based on the above • If mediation requires fewer hours than equations, seems to be quite reasonable. There a court process, this saves children’s ser- also are incalculable beneﬁts associated with vice worker time and expense. improved family satisfaction, construction of individualized and detailed treatment plans, • If mediation requires fewer hours than a plan compliance and attentiveness to the per- court process (uncontested or particularly manency needs of children (see Note 7). 42 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Lessons learned B ecause this evaluation is concerned with “More time devoted to individual points of Michigan’s pilot programs, learning from view.” program site experiences is essential for deciding whether to offer mediation and, if • Greater understanding: offering mediation, for guiding replication of program features. “It clariﬁed things for everyone and provided them more history.” PPMP Program coordinators and family court judges stressed that the support and “Some issues resolved, opened up communi- commitment of the court is critical to have cation more.” from the beginning of efforts to introduce child protection mediation to the various stake- As a result of these mediation features, there holder groups in local child welfare systems. was more information introduced to inform Without buy-in from judges, the primary refer- case decision-making and planning. And, there ral source, program implementation and stake- was a clearer understanding of family circum- holder engagement will be difﬁcult, if not stances and planning options. impossible. Although not all feedback from partici- Many participants experienced mediation pants was positive, the majority of the criti- as a signiﬁcantly different experience than cisms voiced by participants were instructive: going to court. In particular, there were a great number of positive features of mediation noted • Feeling “ganged up” on by an attorney by participants that distinguished mediation at the session; from traditional court processes such as those listed below: • Anger with attorneys who did not appear to respect conﬁdentiality (e.g., by note • Active and full participation, with every- taking at the session or refusal to relin- one getting to be heard: quish notes at the end of mediation); “Dialogue.” • Concerns related to angry, oppositional “More interchange, sharing, viewpoints, and difﬁcult family members; options, discussions, focus on decisions.” • Concerns related to the mental health of “Everyone, including families, is involved in a family member; problem solving and encouraged to take part in solving problems.” • Hostility and animosity between family members; “There is a free ﬂow of communication with- out fear of consequences.” • Perceived stonewalling or intractability of FIA caseworker and attorneys; • Informality, less pressure, less conﬂict and less confrontation: • Fear for physical safety (despite the fear expressed, there were no reported inci- “Less judgmental.” dences of violence at PPMP Program mediation sessions); and • Time for problem solving: • Concerns about intellectual competence “Less rushed.” of family members. 43 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report These participant comments have implica- 2. Dispositional phase: Mediation focuses on the tions for mediator training. Mediators must be nature of and elements in the service plan trained to assess mental health and other barri- and sometimes the child’s placement. This ers to communication and decision-making; to involvement of parents and other interested assess and plan for participant safety; be pre- parties, in the negotiation of the service pared for conﬂict and negative emotions and plan may have positive implications for be capable of engaging court-ordered family parental compliance (versus a case manager members, attorneys and other professionals in crafted service plan). This family involve- the mediation process. ment also may increase the consideration of relative placements. Stages of intervention 3. Review hearings: Issues arising at regularly scheduled review hearings may be One of the evaluation ﬁndings is that medi- addressed in mediation. This suggests that ation was used and was useful, at any stage in some families could have multiple medi- the history of a case. Two sites used mediation ations at different phases in the process at the dispositional phase of the court process. either due to the routine nature of review For four of the sites, mediation was primarily hearings or because of crises and compli- used with regard to the case service plan and cations arising during case service plan the corresponding phase of the court process. implementation. Cases referred to the PPMP Program either had to be in court or be headed to court under 4. Permanency planning hearing: Issues typically the neglect/abuse statute. This requirement arise during this special review hearing encompassed a number of points of interven- held one year after the ﬁling of the initial tion, including: petition and may be discussed in media- tion. As this one-year date is a signiﬁcant 1. Pre-adjudication: The purpose of a mediation one in the life of the child and family, prior to adjudication is to assist the parties reviewing case process, identifying and and court in acting upon a pending abuse confronting obstacles to successful compli- and neglect petition in a timely manner ance with the service plan and considering without a trial. Mediations at this stage permanency options are key components generally involve discussion of a possible of mediation sessions held at this stage. plea to the petition. Sometimes mediations at the pre-adjudication stage also address 5. Pre-reunification: Mediated issues involving dispositional issues thus allowing parents transition of the child from foster home to to begin services earlier in the process. parent’s home include consistency, dealing If agreement is reached as to a plea or with changing relationships and parent- withdrawal of the petition, a trial can be foster parent relationships. avoided. If the issues, usually handled at adjudication and the dispositional review 6. Termination: Mediation seems most appro- hearing can all be addressed at one medi- priate when one or both parents have indi- ation, considerable court time and inter- cated a willingness to consider a voluntary vening time between multiple court relinquishment of parental rights rather proceedings can be eliminated. than an intention to aggressively contest a termination recommendation. 44 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report 7. Post-termination decision-making: Mediation 8. Miscellaneous child welfare disputes: Other cir- may be used to assist in deciding who is cumstances related to the child welfare the appropriate permanent parent when system may present themselves for consid- there are multiple persons who identify eration through mediation. themselves as potential adoptive parents. This parallels similar decision-making at the In summary, one of the lessons learned dispositional stage when selecting between from the Michigan experience is that media- two or more placement options. tion can be used at a number of points in the child welfare and judical process. 45 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Conclusion T his exploratory study of Michigan’s of longer, more costly traditional court Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot processes. Program has found that: • Mediation achieved results in a broad range • Conferences can be convened and a of potentially time-consuming cases. range of issues can be resolved through mediation. Conditions that contributed to the success of mediation included: • Well-trained and supervised voluntary mediators can facilitate mediation con- • Support from the courts and child welfare ferences. system. • Mediation can be used at a variety of • The presence of both parents during points in the child welfare and court mediation. process. • Experienced mediators. • These conferences can successfully involve not only parents, but also a range The conditions valued during mediation of extended family members and com- included: munity professionals. • Broader participation. • There was a high rate of reaching writ- ten agreements in mediation; and in a • A less adversarial process. number of cases where written agree- ment was not obtained, there was still • Time devoted to problem solving. some measure of agreement, understand- ing and clariﬁcation of issues. Reducing the length of stay in out-of- home placement and movement toward timely • There was a high rate of family compli- permanency were achieved in cases with ance with agreements. signiﬁcant degrees of conﬂict. Permanency might not be quickly and easily achieved. • A large majority of parents who partici- In addition, sometimes, cases that have been pated in mediation evaluated this expe- intractable or have worn out other approaches rience positively. are referred to new programs as a last resort. So, it is noteworthy that mediation achieved • A large majority of lawyers and child positive results with high conﬂict cases and welfare workers also evaluated the medi- probably a number of cases that had proven ation experience positively, with over difﬁcult to work with in the system. The 90% of each stating they would recom- accomplishments of the program are not based mend mediation to others. on working with the easiest of cases. The PPMP Program experience in Michigan • Permanency outcomes were better for supports the National Council of Juvenile and mediated cases than non-mediated cases. Family Court Judges’ recommendation that “all juvenile and family court systems should have • Cost savings can be presumed due to alternative dispute resolution processes avail- the use of volunteer mediators and able to the parties. These include...mediation time saved through mediation in place and settlement conferences.” (NCJFCJ, 1999) 46 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Recommendations for further study I n conducting an exploratory evaluation of a inform program design and implementa- new program, a number of areas for further tion. Similarly, other subsets of participants or future study can be identiﬁed. Several could be the focus of in-depth analysis (for areas for further study are noted here: example, fathers, or child protective service workers or prosecuting attorneys). Relat- 1. This evaluation looked at a number of cases from edly, focus on types of abuse/neglect peti- the first three years of the PPMP Program. It tions, family histories in the child welfare would be instructive to look at the cases system, or family characteristics is impor- mediated in 2002 and 2003 through to the tant for reﬁning referral criteria. present day. This would allow for an exami- nation of a PPMP Program at a later stage of 4. In the early stages of the PPMP Program, development and implementation in Mich- mediations took place at a variety of times igan, and these ﬁndings could be compared and points in the court process. Isolating a to the implementation experience in the particular point of referral and intervention beginning years. It is possible that when and designing an analysis of that point introducing a new approach and program, of entry also would add to knowledge gaining some experience with the model of the PPMP Program. With subsets of and developing a corps of veterans would participants and different referral points, have a positive impact on the program and one of the challenges would be gaining its outcomes. a sufﬁciently large enough sample so that there is reasonable conﬁdence in the 2. The use of an experimental design should be generalizability of the ﬁndings. considered. There are many drawbacks to such a design, including the need for a In addition to topics for further research, large sample size and the challenges with there are other recommendations for further matching groups for comparison purposes. study that address deﬁnitions, data collection, Also, the withholding of an intervention methodological considerations and the exten- when the intervention and model are newly sion of this initial study: introduced may be difﬁcult to implement. However, the exploratory nature of this • Definitions of permanency differ among stake- ﬁrst evaluation provided some detail and holder groups and across communities. It is description that is helpful for understand- helpful to have deﬁnitions documented ing permanency planning mediation. With whenever evaluation is undertaken. Ide- experience gained with the model and ally, only one operationalized deﬁnition knowledge gleaned from evaluation, con- should be used when studying achieve- sidering an experimental design or some ment of permanency or measuring lengths variation seems warranted. of time to reach permanency. 3. There are a number of questions that can be • Retrospective collection of public court records explored with regard to populations involved in may entail retrieval of paper files from storage mediation. For example, this study had a facilities. Electronic retrieval of public very small participant response rate from records may be cost prohibitive because children and youth in attendance at medi- of the need for already overburdened ation sessions. A study focusing on the court administrators, clerks or support experiences and the impact of mediation staff to search for the information. Speciﬁc on children and youth who participate in arrangements and timeframes should mediation can yield information that can be negotiated with individual court 47 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report administrators and chief judges prior to use of mediation can be measured most beginning evaluation. effectively if pre- and post-measures of system functioning and/or intra-system • Matching case records across stakeholder perceptions among stakeholders are col- groups is challenging and sometimes nearly lected. Instruments for assessing each impossible, despite the existence of elec- local system can be both qualitative tronic case information systems. At pres- and quantitative. Validated collaboration ent, no common, inter-system case or measures are available, as well as the child identiﬁers are used for record keep- modiﬁed eco-map used in this initial ing. Petitions ﬁled by Children’s Pro- evaluation. Interviews and focus groups tective Services workers do not include also can provide valid intra-system infor- the unique FIA child identiﬁer or FIA mation. Using multiple measures allows case number. This omission impedes for systematic collection of data and rich, electronic retrieval of child protection detailed information about the unique- and foster care information on children. ness of local child welfare systems. Court case ﬁle numbers vary tremen- dously in format from one court to another and sometimes from one judge Topics for further consideration to another. Various subdivisions within any given court may or may not be Parental compliance with child welfare service apparent from the court case ﬁle number. plans, court orders and mediation agreements should Requesting public court record informa- be assessed. The current evaluation examined tion is challenging and may need to parental compliance with agreements 60 to 90 be done through more than one ofﬁce. days after the mediation session. No consistent PPMP Programs assigned still other iden- compliance information was available for cases tiﬁers to cases referred for mediation. referred but not mediated, or for cases medi- These identiﬁers are not systematically ated but not reaching a written agreement. catalogued with corresponding court or Longer-term compliance also should be exam- FIA assigned case and child identiﬁers. ined. Child welfare caseworkers may provide PPMP Program identiﬁers are submit- the most reliable assessment of compliance ted quarterly on the mandatory PPMP throughout each case. Parent, family and case- Program reports submitted to the Ofﬁce worker satisfaction and perception of media- of Dispute Resolution. These mediation tion’s effectiveness should be assessed beyond identiﬁers do not necessarily match paper the mediation session itself. Focus groups, ﬁles kept at each pilot program site. mailed surveys and phone interviews allow This patchwork of case identiﬁcation for post-mediation follow-up. does not impede case services within any Future evaluations should include follow-up stakeholder sector; however, the varia- through surveys or interviews with FIA caseworkers, tion substantially can affect the use of legal professionals and other participants who have case records as reliable data sources for expressed an interest in sharing their thoughts and evaluation. experiences. Contact information is available through expressions of interest included at the • Within each community, history, relationships end of participant satisfaction surveys. These and collaboration among stakeholder groups surveys are sent regularly to the Ofﬁce of involved with child protection mediation Dispute Resolution. should be assessed. Assessment of system An advisory group should be convened to inform changes wrought by the introduction and a more rigorous cost/benefit analysis than was 48 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report possible in this evaluation. Selected locations ments states have developed a “case manage- could be used to compile speciﬁc, validated ment” system, called a SACWIS, that serves ﬁnancial estimates of costs and savings in as the electronic case ﬁle for children and fam- identiﬁed communities. Such estimates should ilies served by the States’ child welfare pro- include projected or calculated court costs, grams. One of the reports that is produced legal professional time commitments and child from SACWIS is the AFCARS data sent to welfare agency expenses. the Administration for Children and Families Contact should be made with the state public (ACF). In order to qualify for SACWIS fund- child welfare administrative offices with respect ing, states’ systems must, among other things, to identifying comparison values for lengths of meet the AFCARS requirements in 45 CFR time to permanency. Comparison groups or 1355.40. The State of Michigan has developed matched cases might be possible to identify. such a system to meet the federal require- Such arrangements would enhance future ments. This electronic warehouse of case infor- evaluation design and strengthen the general- mation potentially could furnish case speciﬁc izability of evaluation ﬁndings. information, which was inaccessible for this In fulﬁllment of federal reporting require- evaluation. 49 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report References Baron, Steve. “Dependency Court Mediation: The for child welfare systems,” Advocate (Idaho), 42, Role of Participants,” Family and Conciliation 2 (February 1999), p. 15. Courts Review, 35, 2 (April 1997), 149-159. Landsman, Miriam, Barber, Gail and Thompson, Barsky, Allan. “Community Involvement through Kathy. “Expediting Permanency Through Com- Child Protection Mediation,” Child Welfare, 78, 4 munity Decision Making” Juvenile and Family (July/August 1999), pp. 481-502. Exploration of Court Journal, 53, 4 (Fall 2002), pp. 79-88. community involvement in mediation and the Landsman, Miriam, Thompson, Kathy and Barber, advantages and disadvantages of community Gail. “Using Mediation to achieve permanency involvement in mediation. for children and families.” Families in Society, Barsky, Allan. “Why Parties Agree to Mediate: The 84, 2 (2003), p. 229. Case of Child Protection,” Family and Concil- Maluccio, Anthony, N. and Fein, E. “Permanency iation Courts Review, 35, 2 (April 1997), pp. planning: A redeﬁnition.” Child Welfare, 63, 2 164-183. (1983), pp. 195-201. Barsky, Allan. Child and Youth Services Review, 20, 7 Maresca, June. “Mediating Child Protection Cases,” (August 1998), 629-656. Child Welfare, 74, 3 (May 1995), pp. 731. Barsky, Allan. Mediation Quarterly, 14, 2 (Winter Mayer, Bernard. “Mediation in child protection 1996), 111-134. cases: The impact of third-party intervention on Carruthers, Susan. “Mediation in child protection parental compliance attitudes. Mediation Quar- and the Nova Scotia experience,” Family and terly, 24 (Summer 1989), pp. 89-106. [Based on Conciliation Courts Review, 35, 1 (January 1997), his dissertation at the University of Denver 102-126. (1988).] Cunningham, Alison, evaluation conducted; pro- Michigan Supreme Court, State Court Adminis- gram by Judy VanLeeuwen. Centre for Chil- trator’s Ofﬁce, Ofﬁce of Dispute Resolution. dren and Families in the Justice System, (2002). “Permanency Planning Mediation Program Edwards, Leonard and Baron, Steve. “Alternatives Mediation Manual.” Lansing, MI, 2002. to Contested Litigation in Child Abuse and National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Neglect Cases,” Family and Conciliation Courts Judges. “Key Principles for Permanency Plan- Review, 33, 3 (July 1995), 275-285. ning for Children,“ Technical Assistance Brief Edwards, Leonard, “Dependency Court Mediation: (October 1999). The Role of the Judge,” Family and Conciliation Rowe, Andrew, “Cost Effectiveness in FGDM,” in Courts Review, 35, 2 (April 1997), 160-163. Widening the Circle, Pennell, J. and Anderson, G. Etter, Jeanne. “Levels of Cooperation and Washington, DC, NASW Press, (2005). Satisfaction in 56 Open Adoptions,” Child State of Michigan Family Independence Agency, Welfare, 72, 3 (May-June 1993), pp. 257-267. “Children’s Foster Care Manual, CFB 2004-001.” Etter, Jeanne. “Use of Mediated Agreements in Lansing, MI, 2004. Adoptions,” Techniques and Results in Family Thoennes, Nancy, “Mediation and the Dependency Mediation/Mediation Quarterly, 22 (Winter 1988), Court: The Controversy and Three Courts’ Expe- pp. 83-89. rience.” Family and Conciliation Courts Review, Firestone, Gregory, “Dependency Mediation: Where 29, 3 (July 1991), pp. 246-258. Do We Go From Here?” Family and Conciliation Thoennes, Nancy, “Child Protection Mediation in Court Review, 35, 2 (April 1997), 223-238. the Juvenile Court.” The Judges Journal, Winter Giovannucci, Marilou T., “Understanding the Role 1994, pp.14-19. of the Mediator in Child Protection Proceed- Thoennes, Nancy and Pearson, Jessica. “Mediation ings,” Family and Conciliation Courts Review, 35, in Five California Dependency Courts: A Cross- 2 (April 1997), pp. 143-148. Site Comparison.” Report to the California State Giovannucci, Marilou. Mediation of Child Legislature, November 1995. Protection Proceedings; the Connecticut Juvenile Thoennes, Nancy, Child Protection Mediation: Court’s Approach. May 1999. Where We Started. Family and Conciliation Courts Giovannucci, Marilou. Mediation of Child Review, 35, 2 (April 1997), 136-147. Protection Proceedings; the Connecticut Juvenile Thoennes, Nancy, Hamilton County Juvenile Court: Court’s Approach, 1999. Permanent custody mediation. Center for Policy Jensen, Linda. “Permanency Mediation—new tool Research, Denver, CO, 2002. 50 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Notes Note 1. Two hundred seven cases were 0-12 years) and $17.68 a day (13-18 years), not selected by working in decreasing chronologi- including administrative costs (FIA, 2003). cal order from cases seen in 2001 back to 1999, based on length of time the PPMP Program Note 5. The recognition that permanency had been operating at the existing pilot sites planning mediation results in cost savings in 2003 to ensure representation of most recent for the judicial system is not the same as cases served. The total number of mediation saying that mediation is inexpensive. Media- cases for 1999-2001 was 338 cases. tion requires careful recruitment, training and supervision of mediators to ensure that the Note 2. For example, in Kalamazoo County use of volunteer mediators results in skillful, court-appointed attorneys are paid $72 an respectful and effective mediation processes, hour; in Gogebic, $50; in Iron County, $50. If agreements and overall results. The investment the attorney does not have a court contract; in of attorneys and child protective services is Ontonagon, $40 an hour; in Cheboygan, $150 essential in the mediation process to ensure up to two hours (including mediation) and safe and feasible agreements that respect the a ﬂat rate of $50 an hour; in Sanilac, $50 rights of family members and underscore the an hour; in Marquette, $50 an hour; and in safety, permanency and well-being of children. Kent, $60 an hour. Preliminary to termination, The recruitment and training of mediators and $400-$500 in Washtenaw County and $55 an networking with courts and agencies, com- hour thereafter. munity education and linkages that advance mediation programs require educated and Note 3. The Adoption and Foster Care committed professional program leaders. An Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) is investment in mediation results in quality, a federal data reporting system that states are professional mediation services that result in required to use to report on children who come effective agreements. This requires a ﬁnancial into contact with state child welfare systems. commitment. However, it is ﬁnancially less AFCARS collects state-speciﬁc case level infor- expensive than formal, traditional court pro- mation on all children in foster care, for whom cesses and may result in other positive out- state child welfare agencies have responsibil- comes for families and communities, including ity for placement, care or supervision and on more timely permanency for children. children who are adopted under the auspices of the state’s public child welfare agency. Indi- Note 6. The reduction in time to permanency vidual state data proﬁles are available for the (and cost savings) associated with the PPMP seven major national child welfare outcomes. Program most likely is estimated conservatively Among these outcomes are time to perma- as some of the impetus for the introduction of nency for reuniﬁcation of children in foster care mediation in Michigan. Some of the judicial with their parents and time to permanency for support was generated by the desire to use children freed for adoption. The most recent mediation as a tool for the resolution of high statistics for Michigan are from 2000. Michi- conﬂict child welfare cases—most frequently gan AFCARS statistics are offered only as a those cases that had been in out-of-home point of comparison, in the absence of more placement for an extended length of time. analogous statistics. The Michigan AFCARS Reductions in length of stay and movement reported median time to reuniﬁcation for chil- toward timely permanency were achieved in dren in foster care was 15.3 months. cases with a signiﬁcant degree of conﬂict— hence the need for conﬂict resolution and Note 4. The per diem rate for foster care in alternative dispute resolution strategies. Such Michigan in 2003 was $14.10 a day (children cases are less likely to be cases in which 51 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report permanency can quickly and easily be achieved. to care for children and families through its In addition, sometimes, cases that have been child welfare system. The Michigan Family intractable or have worn out other approaches Independence Agency’s performance was are referred to new programs as a last resort. audited by the federal government in 2002. This So, it is noteworthy that mediation achieved audit noted that “children and families were positive results with high conﬂict cases and not consistently involved in case planning.” probably a number of cases that had proven Stakeholders noted untimely permanency difﬁcult to work with in the system. The hearings due to continuances or limited time on success of the program is not based on working court dockets. Permanency planning mediation with “easy” cases. provides a means for involvement of parents and children in the case planning process Note 7. In addition to cost savings, there is and, in at least some cases, an alternative to the related issue of service delivery and federal repeated continuances and waiting for court accountability. The State of Michigan is audited docket time. Measures to improve the State by the U.S. Department of Health and Human of Michigan’s performance in the Child and Services through the Child and Family Service Family Service Reviews will promote best Reviews (CFSR) to assess the state’s ability practice and prevent ﬁnancial penalties. 52 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Appendix A Review of program and evaluation literature A s noted in the background section, the One ﬁnal note should be made about those use of mediation in child welfare cases cases that do not result in a mediated agree- is a relatively new experience that has ment. The process itself can help to identify been tried in a number of locations and is in and to narrow the issues which will be taken different stages of development and evalua- up at the trial” (Giovannucci, 1999, 7). tion. This section will survey some of the spe- An evaluation of the Connecticut media- ciﬁc child welfare mediation projects that are tion program noted that the program had set- underway in the United States and Canada. tlement rates between 60-80% in the cases they These projects have a number of elements in served. Mediation seemed to work well in a common in both model implementation and in broad range of cases. Cases involving ques- evaluation experiences and challenges. tions of child placement were less likely to result in agreements. Parental participation appeared to have positive beneﬁts. The eval- Other pioneering states uation noted that parental compliance prob- lems were common, but parental compliance Connecticut. Mediation has been used in was improved with mediation. Resistance to the child welfare system in Connecticut longer mediation from all quarters (child protection than other states. In Connecticut in 1983, the agencies, the court) was reported. The study Court Services Unit was established to assist concluded: the Court in neglect-related matters to provide services to these cases. Court Services Ofﬁcers • Mediation represented a “signiﬁcant were trained in mediation techniques and con- improvement over pretrial approaches” ducted case status conferences in the Juvenile as all relevant parties met together to Court. The number of Court Services Units clarify issues and arrive at decisions with grew from four units in 1983 to 20 by May full and accurate information; 1999. All units in locations across the state con- ducted mediation conferences. • A neutral facilitator is needed rather than Descriptions of the program focused on the having unfacilitated meetings; characteristics of mediation, the responsibili- ties of mediators, mediation participants and • Early intervention should be encour- difﬁculties faced in mediation and the com- aged; and petencies and training required for mediators. The beneﬁts of mediation were identiﬁed as • Mediation programs should make “spe- participants gaining skill in problem solving, a cial efforts to involve parents in the medi- better chance for the long-term success of the ation session.” (Thoennes, 1994) case and the prospect of more durable parent- ing arrangements (Giovannucci, 1997). California. Mediation in child protective With regard to the Connecticut mediation cases has been used in California courts for a programs, Giovannucci noted, “It is generally number of years. These programs were ﬁnan- concluded that the real difference between cially supported through state legislation and mediated and non-mediated cases is that medi- through a fee attached to state birth certiﬁ- ated cases result in the parents and children cates. There have been at least two evaluations receiving appropriate services and increase the of mediation in California. likelihood of compliance with those services. One study examined mediation in two 53 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report counties in California (and this study included This extensive study arrived at ten conclu- Connecticut as reported above). The Califor- sions: (1) mediation is preferred by parents nia programs had settlement rates of 60% to and most participants; (2) a variety of media- 80% in the cases they served. Similar to Con- tion models are effective; (3) mediation is effec- necticut, mediation seemed to work well with a tive with all types of maltreatment and at all broad range of cases. Cases involving questions stages in case processing; (4) preliminary ﬁnd- of child placement were less likely to result in ings suggested that mediated agreements are agreements. Parental participation in the medi- more detailed than non-mediated agreements, ation meetings argued for routine inclusion more likely provide services to families and of parents in the negotiations. Although there make greater use of kinship care; (5) medi- was little difference between mediated agree- ation appears to reduce the immediate need ments and non-mediated agreements, medi- for contested review hearings; (6) preliminary ated agreements were produced on average 30 ﬁndings suggest that mediated agreements days earlier than non-mediated agreements. “enjoy greater compliance by parents, at least The study found that compliance problems in the short run;” (7) very preliminary evidence were common in California, as they were in found that mediation reduces the amount of Connecticut, but in one of the two California time in out-of-home care; (8) conﬁdentiality is sites, parental compliance was better in cases important to assure acceptance of mediation; that were mediated. Also similar to Connecti- (9) mandating mediation may be useful; and cut, resistance to mediation from child welfare (10) in these pilot programs, hiring skilled and professionals and court personnel was widely trained mediators was necessary to provide reported. The evaluation noted similar conclu- quality services. (Thoennes and Pearson, 1995) sions in California to those noted in Connecti- With regard to the California pilot projects cut (Thoennes, 1994). and their evaluation, there were several limi- In a study of ﬁve California dependency tations acknowledged in the study. For exam- courts using mediation, the effectiveness and ple, the time line did not allow the evaluators cost of mediation were considered. These pilot to follow cases over a lengthy period of time projects had the objectives of: (1) resolving 70% or discover what ultimately transpired with of matters coming before the court in a more respect to savings in court time, length of out- timely manner through mediation rather than of-home placement or compliance patterns. litigation; (2) increasing creative solutions of In addition the programs were evolving even family problems; (3) reducing foster care place- while the mediation took place. ments by 25%; and (4) ensuring that at least 75% of participants were satisﬁed with the Wisconsin. In 1998, the Center for Public mediation process. Policy Studies with the Wisconsin Supreme Data sources included (1) mediator forms Court received funding from the State Justice completed after the session; (2) a review of Institute to introduce mediated child protec- court ﬁles for descriptive information, hear- tive conferencing in criminal and civil child ings and evidence of compliance with the treat- abuse and neglect cases. Two southwestern ment plan; (3) self-administered questionnaires counties were selected for the pilot. The major to parents; and (4) interviews with represen- goals were: (1) less adversarial handling of tatives of primary professional groups partic- child abuse and neglect cases so that families ipating in mediation. Forms from mediators cooperate and comply with treatment plans; were received in 968 cases; there were 499 (2) expand the involvement of extended family parent surveys and 606 court reviews of medi- and other relevant parties as these persons ated cases. Over 200 non-mediated cases were may have contributed to the problem or might reviewed in four of the counties. contribute to the solution; (3) speed up the res- 54 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report olution of cases—mediated case conferences Community Decision Making Project.” Both of were scheduled 20-30 days after an initial court these projects were three-year projects funded hearing; and (4) develop a coordinated resolu- by federal grants from the U.S. Department of tion of the case. The model included: (1) refer- Health and Human Services, Administration ring all civil and misdemeanor child abuse and for Children, Youth and Families. neglect cases to a mediated child protection The Iowa Mediation for Permanency Project conference that included the accused, other was an Adoption Opportunities grant designed family, children, foster parents, caseworkers, to attempt to change the existing adversarial other service providers; (2) the conferencing and lengthy permanency decision-making pro- was also extended to companion felony cases cess. It introduced mediation at a variety of and to resolve termination of parental rights points along the permanency continuum. This matters. model also had multiple sessions over time Thirty-seven conferences were held. Find- and used “shuttle mediation,” i.e., not meeting ings included: (1) conferences can resolve child with all of the parties in the same room. There abuse and neglect cases; (2) tough cases and were four stages: recruitment and screening, routine cases could be handled; (3) there were assessment, mediation and follow-up. Media- beneﬁts such as increased parental understand- tors were paid as independent contractors and ing and improving relationships; (4) there were recruited from social workers, attorneys and advantages in criminal cases, including better other mental health practitioners. coordination of efforts and focus on the chil- The evaluation described the proﬁle of dren; (5) mediators needed to be ﬂexible in the families in mediation, had process mea- their approaches; (6) continuity of justice, social sures for mediation progress and identiﬁed service and mediators was important; and (7) outcomes. There was no comparison or con- a collaborative infrastructure is necessary to trol group. Over a four-year period, 118 fami- support these projects. lies were served. The largest numbers of cases were referred at the point of making a per- Ohio. With funding from the federal gov- manency decision. The second largest time for ernment and the Hamilton County Juvenile referrals was at the time of termination of Court, a child protective mediation program parental rights. It took 35 days from initial was introduced in Hamilton County, Ohio. This referral to the date that mediation was agreed program used contracted community media- to, an additional 69 days to draft an agree- tors, and the focus was on permanent custody ment through mediation and 39 more days in adoption cases and degrees of openness in to sign a ﬁnal agreement. The time for han- the adoption between adoptive parents and dling a mediation case averaged ﬁve months; biological parents. There were 49 cases over mediators spent an average of 32 hours per two years, with a comparable case control case (including paperwork). Thirty-nine per- group of 37 cases. Findings included: (1) 40% cent of families reached a ﬁnal, signed medi- of cases reaching agreement; (2) a wide range ated agreement. The evaluation noted “often of cases resolving permanent custody issues; the process of problem solving with a neutral (3) high levels of satisfaction with mediation; third party helped to effect changes in relation- and (4) even when there wasn’t agreement, the ships that could not be measured by the devel- issues in the dispute were narrowed. opment of a formal document alone.” Outcome data identiﬁed permanency status Iowa. The State of Iowa had two child pro- with the goal being a degree of permanency tection mediation projects: the “Iowa Medi- resolution. Participant satisfaction was mea- ation for Permanency Project,” followed a sured by a mailed survey: 16% of the total year later by “Expediting Permanency through number of evaluations received came from 55 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report family members, 24% from public child wel- based on the perceptions of community teams fare case managers and 20% from attorneys. (37 individuals reporting). In 12 months, 180 The response rate for managers was 47%; for cases were served. A high level of satisfaction attorneys, 39% and for family members, 40%. (95%; combined participants) was reported; Ninety percent of all participants found medi- and a savings of bench time and court costs. ation to be helpful. To calculate ﬁnancial savings, there were The cost of mediation was calculated by estimates with regard to time and court multiplying the number of hours that the medi- expenses. Mediation professionals estimate ator spent on the case by the hourly rate for reducing court time by 40 hours per case for each mediator ($902 median); the cost was cases referred prior to court involvement. The higher for cases with a signed mediation agree- cost of court time was estimated at $10,680 per ment ($2,189 median). The study concluded case. Mediation is estimated to take ﬁve hours that mediation was “reasonably priced and cost of time (including one hour of paperwork) at a effective in light of the positive permanency cost of $400. Consequently, there was cost sav- outcomes.” Follow ups began at six months ings of $10,280 per case prior to court involve- following mediation, but data was incomplete; ment. After adjudication, reported time savings contact was attempted with 39 families, and related to these strategies ranged from a half- nine of these could not be located. Eighty- day to three days in court. Once the court is seven percent indicated that agreements were involved, there was an estimated savings of still in place at six months following media- $1,064 per case. tion. (Landsman, et. al., 2003) Court expenses were computed based on This ﬁrst grant-funded project was funded hourly wages for one experienced judge, a by the State of Iowa for one year following the court reporter, a county attorney, guardian ad conclusion of the federal grant. It was ended litem and two attorneys. Savings from medi- after that year due to state budget cuts. A ation, compared to contested cases at perma- second federal grant was received from the nency and termination, were estimated to be U.S. Department of Health and Human Ser- $1,862 per day. The average per case cost of vices for three years ($600,000) to implement a mediation after court involvement was $1,093. community collaborative model for child pro- Iowa recruited and paid professionals experi- tection mediation. In this program, six pilot enced in child welfare to conduct mediation sites from across the state were selected. Com- sessions (Landsman, et. al., 2002). munity collaborative teams composed of rep- resentatives from the judiciary, child welfare, Oregon. One of the ﬁrst states to implement CASA, attorneys, school, faith community, pri- negotiation of voluntary termination of paren- vate agencies, mental health providers, foster/ tal rights was Oregon. There has been some adoptive parents and substance abuse treat- discussion as to the nature of this program and ment agencies were formed. These teams pro- the extent to which it is comparable to other moted and guided the use of two alternative child welfare mediation programs. It will be dispute resolution strategies with families— described here, but it differs from other pro- child protection mediation or family group grams in that it focuses on the termination of decision-making (FGDM). parental rights and the negotiation of an open The sites accepted referrals after the court adoption. There have been a number of ques- had taken jurisdiction. Two pilot sites also took tions raised about this model, including about cases before any court involvement to divert the voluntary nature of the mediation when cases from the court system. Families were the consequences of not participating may be offered mediation or FGDM. The evaluation the involuntary termination of parental rights; reported on the effectiveness of the strategies and biological family high compliance seems 56 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report to be supported by the risk of forfeiting the the estimated costs of contested termination open adoption if there is noncompliance. proceedings needed to be determined. The The Oregon project focused on the use cost analysis of the Oregon project did not of mediation for voluntary relinquishment of include costs to the public child welfare agency parental rights and development of an open in managing the prosecution of these cases adoption agreement written between birth and (administrative and CPS/foster care worker), adoptive parents (Etter, 1988). Open adoption nor the cost of foster care. It did include was deﬁned as “an ongoing channel between legal assistance to the agency at the time of biological and adoptive parents with commu- trial and appeal, costs of expert witnesses nication going both ways” (p. 260). This pro- and investigations to support the state’s case, gram reported that the average number of indigent defense costs for the parents and hours in mediation was 19 hours per dyad; children including attorney fees and transcript 25-30 hours per family group. The focus was costs. on educating about parenting, about adoption Costs were generally calculated by looking and the opportunity for a voluntary relinquish- at hourly costs including fringe for the court ment and open adoption. The provisions of staff in attendance. Case costs for four cases the open adoption were part of the mediation ($28,886; $19,909; $8,945; and $6,927) were negotiations. presented, averaging $16,176. According to The The cases averaged three months to Oregonian, in a 1995 editorial supporting a bill completion of mediation. There were ﬁve to require parties to a petition of parental rights months to adoptive placement, on average. try mediation before going to court, it was In a study of the outcomes of mediated stated that the average cost of traditional court open adoptions, a questionnaire was mailed termination proceedings (with a contested to adoptive and birth families. Out of 72 trial) was $22,000 (excluding foster care costs, adoptions, either an adoptive parent or staff time, overhead and expenses related to biological parent responded from 56 adoptions. appeals). The average cost of mediation, using There was both an adoptive parent and paid staff mediators, was $3,500. biological parent responding in 32 cases. An average of 4.5 years after the adoption, 129 Washington and Idaho. In the State of biological and adoptive parents demonstrated Washington, beginning in 1994, mediation was high levels of compliance with adoption proposed in three child welfare areas: (1) agreements (98.2%) and satisfaction with up-front child protective concerns to promote having an open adoption (93.8%). case planning and prevent contested hearings. There was 92.8% compliance by the adop- This approach was found to take two to tive parents; 100% by the biological parents three mediation sessions, averaging one hour who returned questionnaires. If a biological a session; with a cost of approximately $212 family violated the agreement, they risked combining the expenses of mediator time, losing all contact with the adopted child. With supervision, administration, contracting and regard to the mediation process, 78.2% of all overhead; (2) permanency planning to avoid parents were satisﬁed with the mediation pro- contested termination of parental rights trials. cess (10% were dissatisﬁed and 12% reported This approach was estimated to take eight to 38 being neutral; satisfaction reports were identi- sessions and on average costing at least $2,000 cal for adoptive and biological parents). There for mediation; and (3) cooperative adoption was no comparison with non-mediated, closed planning for an open adoption through adoptions. mediation with biological and adoptive In order to evaluate the potential cost- parents. This approach took from two to 20 beneﬁt of investment in Oregon’s program, sessions at an average cost of at least $935. 57 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report This Washington state model was based London, Ontario. The Child Protection Medi- on the Oregon model. Proposed by Lutheran ation Project in London, Ontario reported that Social Services in Washington and Idaho, a they will study case outcomes for 25 families federal grant proposal to support mediation using mediation. These 25 families will be com- noted that in Lutheran Social Services pared with 25 similar families selected from mediation programs, 76% of children achieved the service area prior to the advent of the medi- permanence (70% released for adoption) in an ation. Outcomes will focus on satisfaction of average time of 13.1 months. These programs parties, ability to address the best interests of were based on the Oregon model. children, timeliness of resolution, settlement rate, durability of mediated agreements com- pared with court orders and relative costs of Canadian mediation projects mediation and the status quo. This study will also investigate the process Toronto, Ontario. Child protective media- of implementation. Principal sources of infor- tion was conducted in Toronto through the mation include: (1) interviews with parents at Centre for Child and Family Mediation, which intake, after mediation, six months later and was founded in 1990. A program report noted one year later; (2) tracking of cases using ﬁle that the mediators had conducted 45 media- data sources; (3) interviews with mediators and tions between 1991-1994. There was partici- lawyers; (4) prospective tracking of costs asso- pant agreement in approximately 85% of the ciated with both court processing and media- cases. The study reporting on these 45 media- tion; and (5) feedback from stakeholder groups tions noted that the average cost per case was about mediation. This study began in 2002 and approximately $1,100. This compared to the will be completed in 2004 (Cunningham and average cost of an uncontested case in court VanLeeuwen, 2002). placed at $1,500 in legal fees alone. In describ- ing the length of mediation, the average cases Nova Scotia. In an analysis of a child pro- took about eight weeks to complete from the tection mediation program in Canada, imple- date of referral to the date of agreement or ter- mented in Nova Scotia in 1993, a number mination. Approximately 10-15 hours of medi- of criticisms were identiﬁed: (1) for not safe- ator time were required. guarding children from neglect and abuse; (2) The study found that participant satisfac- for redundancy with respect to settlements tion was universally reported to be high (no offered by child protective service workers; (3) speciﬁc percentages). Social workers reported its nonuse of child protective service workers high compliance rates in cases with mediated as mediators; and (4) for power imbalances agreements. The primary challenge facing the between negotiating parties. It also suffered mediation program was low referral rates for from a low number of referrals. The author use of mediation. Low rate of service was suggested that, based on this experience, gain- attributed to child welfare agency inertia, resis- ing support from child protection leadership tance from workers who did not want their and front-line staff is necessary to create a judgment questioned and worker reluctance to stable and beneﬁcial mediation program (Car- give up control of the process (Maresca, 1995). ruthers, 1997). 58 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Appendix B Notes on cost M any challenges emerge when deter- 5. Identify the number of hours required mining the costs of a new program of each professional in the program. and comparing that new program to existing service delivery. For example, the cost 6. Multiply the number of hours worked of traditional service delivery may not be pre- by the hourly rate for each staff cisely known. Analysis is further complicated person. by the variety of cases and locations served by the Michigan PPMP Program. Other PPMP 7. Sum the individual case totals for all of Programs, such as the Wisconsin mediation the staff/professionals thus calculating conferencing program, were conducted in one the total salary costs for the case. county. Other evaluations, such as the Ohio and the Oregon programs, examine a fairly 8. Perform these calculations for the new precise decision point (in these cases issues program and for the traditional pro- related to termination of parental rights and grammatic response to the case. negotiating an open adoption). All permanency-planning programs assert 9. Compare these numbers to make an that their programs are cost effective. Some assessment of comparative cost and claim large ﬁnancial savings for the savings with regard to salaries. jurisdictions in which the programs are implemented. In Michigan, with multiple sites, 10. Identify other costs associated with the with multiple attorney reimbursement rates new program and with the traditional and with multiple decision points in the legal service response. Add these costs to the process, documenting precise cost savings will equation to get a more expansive com- be a challenge. parison of total program costs. Formulas Additionally, other costs may be difﬁcult to There are a number of strategies for calcu- determine such as child welfare worker super- lating cost savings. One strategy has the fol- vision, case consultation, training and other lowing elements to calculate the salary costs forms of programmatic support. Calculations spent on a case: also might factor in time and cost savings that are relatively ﬁxed in nature—a judge’s salary 1. The calculation begins by identifying will not be reduced due to mediation resulting the annual salary of each paid profes- in more timely movement of a certain number sional involved in the program. of cases. That is not to say that there are not beneﬁts in reducing the demands on judge’s 2. There should be a calculation of the time, such as more time to spend on other number of working days. troublesome cases or a more timely ability to manage an overall set of cases. 3. Dividing the annual salary by the In addition to considering costs, it is impor- number of working days results in a tant to consider the beneﬁts, both concrete and daily rate of pay. intangible ones. In this regard, “costs are the value of everything that goes into providing a 4. Dividing the daily rate by the number service, and beneﬁts are the changes that a ser- of working hours calculates the hourly vice generates (Rowe, 2004). The combination rate. 59 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report of costs and beneﬁts results in a description 3. Average cost of a permanency planning of program effectiveness that can be compared mediation, $3,500. to a traditional response or reasonable alterna- tive. Measuring the beneﬁts of mediation poses So, the average savings created by media- additional challenges. Most mediation eval- tion per case was calculated to be $54,500. uations state that increased parental under- standing, involvement and progress toward Based on 2,000 permanency planning an agreement, even if an agreement is not mediations in the state of California, annual reached, are positive, although unmeasurable, savings for the state, based on the provision beneﬁts of mediation. In the Michigan study, it of mediation services, was $108,500,000; with may be possible to describe a modest beneﬁt in cost savings of $44,500,000 for social service reduced time in temporary foster care with the agencies and $64,000,000 for the judiciary. resulting cost savings and presumably human This savings projection assumed that these savings, as well. 2,000 cases would have resulted in contested All elements of assessing cost are more dif- hearings and that those hearings’ expenses ﬁcult in a retrospective study. A recommenda- would meet the above-stated average expenses tion for further study is the construction of a (http://consortforkids.org/Financial). record that makes it possible to account for A report on the Oregon permanency plan- time and costs with some precision. ning process stated that a contested termina- Overall, the key elements in determining tion of parental rights hearing in Oregon cost cost are time spent on the mediation, the the state judiciary $22,000 (not including child expenses in relation to that speciﬁc time and welfare agency expenses or court overhead). the programmatic/overhead costs that are part The mediation program that negotiated vol- of the program. There also may be additional untary relinquishments (versus court ordered costs in starting up a new program; these terminations) cost $3,500 per case (with paid expenses may be lessened with experience and professional mediators). There are missing the development of programmatic templates, values on both sides of this computation, but it guidelines and decision rules that reduce the seems reasonable to conclude that negotiating amount of time needed for each case. a voluntary relinquishment rather than litigat- ing termination of parental rights results in a Mediation cost effectiveness reports ﬁnancial savings to the court (and presumably It may be helpful to look at cost effective- to the agency) in addition to the potential ben- ness and savings as computed in other media- eﬁts for the children, biological parents and tion studies in child welfare. In an analysis of adoptive parents (more timely decisions). permanency planning mediation in California, In Wisconsin, mediation routinely was used the following ﬁgures were reported (the for- early in the child welfare case. The fees for mula for calculating these expenses was not in the mediator, guardian ad litem and adversary the report): lawyer were calculated to be $37,580. This cost did not include court overhead or direct 1. Average cost to social service agency costs such as supplies and space. This study for contested hearing, $24,000. reported serving 37 cases. The evaluation did not present the traditional court costs. The 2. Average cost to judiciary for a contested study concluded that the court viewed these hearing, $34,000. costs as a worthy investment and valued the non-monetary beneﬁts (such as better case So, the average combined costs for one coordination and better outcomes for children contested hearing were $58,000. and families, including saved time). These 60 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report beneﬁts were assessed to “far exceed” new costs Summary associated with the introduction of mediation. The Michigan evaluation includes consid- The Ohio study—which focused on a erably more cases, but the point of intervention relatively precise decision point of permanent varied widely, even within sites. These sites custody in one county—addressed mediation were located in a number of different counties. and cost savings in two ways. The ﬁrst way These conditions and other programmatic real- was to ask participants if “in at least one case, ities pose challenges to calculating cost sav- mediation reduced the amount of time” spent ings. Different from the studies cited, Michigan on a case; and “in at least one case, mediation generally used two volunteer mediators. The increased the amount of time.” The second mediators in the states cited above were paid method was a mathematical calculation similar professionals. In Michigan, sometimes one of to the process described above in which time is the mediators was the paid site coordinator. accounted for and matched to personnel costs. The above-noted studies generally did not This involved a number of assumptions (for account for programmatic costs such as admin- example, that there was a three-hour “down istration, supervision and training. time” built into each case due to waiting for A more precise discussion of costs will a hearing or ﬁnding that a case was being require the identiﬁcation of a number of continued). assumptions with regard to time, more precise The study calculated the costs per case record keeping and identiﬁcation of variable settled pre-trial with no mediation, the costs costs related to type and timing of the medi- per case settled in trial with no mediation; ation. Identifying the cost of traditional ser- mediation costs for cases settled in mediation vice provision and court involvement needs and those not settled in mediation; and then to take place to make a comparison. The ben- a comparison. Assuming that all cases cost eﬁts of the PPMP Program should also be con- the same, mediation saved $2,327 per case. A sidered—as they were in Wisconsin—with an signiﬁcant part of that savings was attributable afﬁrmation of certain values and by calculat- to time and salary savings with LGALs in ing cost savings associated with more timely mediated cases versus nonmediated cases. permanency. Case records were designed to capture time spent on various aspects of the case. The Ohio study examined 49 cases. 61 Reporting Period:________________________________ Center Name:___________________________________ Permanency Planning Mediation Program Evaluation Data Collection Form PPMP- 04/05PP Instructions This form should be completed using the quarterly supplement to the center’s CDRP-03QT. Centers using the CDRP statistical software can easily code PPMP cases to generate quarterly PPMP case reports on the CDRP-03QT form. Centers not using the statistical software must complete an 62 individual CDRP-03QT (PPMP) form by hand. Either of these forms are acceptable sources for the information needed. If the project incorporates more than one county, please use an identifier to note which county cases are received from, e.g., Case 123 (M) or Appendix C (J), for Monroe or Jackson Counties. Cases should be counted in the same manner as other mediation cases. Multiple sessions leading to one agreement (or no agreement) counts as one case disposition. If that same case returns to mediation at a later stage in a protective proceeding, the matter should receive a new case Quarterly Report Form number. The opening of a new file on a previously mediated matter returning to mediation should be designated on the form in the column provided. Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Evaluation data collection forms and required PPMP program reports C:\CDRPProjects\PPMP\PPMPForms\PPMP04PP.doc, 12/2002 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Quarterly Report Form (continued) Reporting Period:________________________________ Center Name:___________________________________ Other Client FCRB Attorney for Parent Referral Source Lawyer GAL (for child) Private Agency FIA Court Returnee Permanency Planning Mediation Program Previously Mediated Case Returning to Mediation Evaluation Data Collection Form – 04PP Conciliation w/o agreement Conciliation with agreement Mediation Disposition Closed prior to mediation No Agreement Partial Agreement Full Agreement Post-Termination Related to Permanency Planning Hearing Post Disposition/ Review Hearing Prior to Disposition Case Referral Point Prior to Trial/ Adjudication Prior to Prelim Hearing Prior to Initial Petition Center Case No. 63 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Quarterly Report Form (continued) Spent by Staff and Volunteers Approximate # of hours Approx. Time spent on case by center volunteers Approximate # of hours spent on case by center staff Modification/Rejection Court Acceptance/ Of Agreement Non-Court Referral Rejection in Full Court Modification Accept in Full # of days between Referral-to-Disposition Mediation Duration/ Initial Referral and Mediation Disposition Mediation Duration in Time Minutes Other Family Member Macintosh HD:ROSE's STUFF:MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY:PPMP folder:PPMPEvalForms Folder:PPMP0405PP.doc Foster Parent CASA Child/Children Participating Parties (Insert the number of each participating party in Father the corresponding category, i.e. 2 foster parents, 1 mother, etc.) Mother Prosecutor Attorney for Child (if different from Lawyer GAL) Lawyer GAL Father’s Atty. Mother’s Atty. Private Agency Worker FIA Worker Case No. Center 64 60-90 Day Follow-up (Check all boxes that apply and make sure compliance of all parties to the agreement is reported, i.e. a box or boxes should be checked that indicates compliance of both parents and other parties - if there was nothing for either parents or other parties to do in the agreement, please indicate this by writing either n/a parents or n/a other parties). No Compliance with No Compliance with Full Compliance with Full Compliance with Agreement by parents Agreement by parents Full Compliance with Partial Compliance with Partial Compliance with Agreement by Parents Agreement by all parties Center Case Agreement by other parties Agreement by other parties Agreement by Other Parties No. 65 Quarterly Report Form (continued) Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Macintosh HD:ROSE's STUFF:MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY:PPMP folder:PPMPEvalForms Folder:PPMP0405PP.doc Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Appendix C Evaluation data collection forms and required PPMP program reports (continued) Annual Report Form Other (Please indicate) Permanency Outcome (Check only one) Independent Living Long Term Foster Care Permanent Foster Family Agreement Guardianship Permanency Outcomes PPMP-05PP Reunited with Either Parent Macintosh HD:ROSE's STUFF:MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY:PPMP folder:PPMPEvalForms Folder:PPMP0405PP.doc Adoption No. of days between the date of Mediation Referral and the Permanency Outcome No. of days between the filing of the initial Duration of Case petition and the Permanency Outcome Case No. Center 66 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Appendix C Evaluation data collection forms and required PPMP program reports (continued) PARTICIPANT EVALUATION OF MEDIATION CDRP-10PP Michigan Permanency Planning Mediation Program Evaluation Michigan State University School of Social Work 1. I am the (please check one): Mother Father Child/Teen (please list your age): Family Member Caseworker Prosecutor Guardian Ad Litem Other (please specify): __________________ Attorney for (please specify: ______________ ) 2) The following statements are about the mediation Does Neither not process. Please indicate to the extent you agree or Strongly Agree nor Strongly apply See disagree by marking (x) for each statement. Agree Agree Disagree Disagree Disagree to me Comments a) Before mediation, I was given information about mediation. b) At the beginning, the mediators explained mediation to me c) The mediators listened carefully to me. d) We talked about all the issues that were important to me. e) The mediators treated everyone fairly. f) Other people in mediation listened to me. g) Other people in mediation took me seriously. h) I have a better understanding of others’ points of view. i) The mediators did not take sides. j) The mediators were organized. k) The mediators understood what I was talking about. l) I was treated with respect. m) I had the chance to fully participate in mediation. n) Mediation helped improve my relationship with one or more persons in the room. o) Mediation helped me with issues I was concerned about. p) I feel that the result was fair. q) Whether or not an agreement was reached, I understand what I have to do next. r) Whether or not an agreement was reached, I understand what other people will do next. s) I would use mediation again. t) I would recommend mediation to someone else. 67 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report PARTICIPANT EVALUATION OF MEDIATION CDRP-10PP Michigan Permanency Planning Mediation Program Evaluation Michigan State University School of Social Work 3) Additional Comments (from Question 2 above): __________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ 4a) Was an agreement reached? Yes No 4b) If there was no agreement, do you think mediation helped you with your situation? Completely Mostly Somewhat Not at all please explain: ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ 5) How can mediation be improved? 6) How was mediation different from what happens in court? 7) Could we contact you in the future about being interviewed about your experience in mediation? Yes No If yes, Name(optional):______________________________________________________ Address (optional):_________________________________________________________ Phone number (optional):____________________________________________________ Thank you for completing this evaluation. 68 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Appendix C Evaluation data collection forms and required PPMP program reports (continued) MEDIATOR EVALUATION OF MEDIATION Permanency Planning Mediation Program Evaluation Michigan State University School of Social Work PPMP-11PP 1. Please check the anticipated issues in this case, i.e. what appeared to be the issues prior to mediation when you were assigned this case. Please check all that apply. Wording of petition/plea Compliance with service plan/parent/agency agreement Personality/communication problem Service plan/parent-agency agreement Visitation Permanency options Other (please indicate): ___________________________________________ 2. Please check the actual issues, i.e. the issues that were actually discussed during the mediation. Please check all that apply. Wording of petition/plea Compliance with service plan/parent/agency agreement Personality/communication problem Service plan/parent-agency agreement Visitation Permanency options Other (please indicate): ___________________________________________ 3. How many mediation sessions were held? _______session(s) How many minutes was the entire mediation? _______minute(s) 4. Please check all that apply: All issues were resolved Some issues were resolved There was no agreement on any issues New issues were identified Issues were clarified Communication improved between the parties Other (please indicate): ___________________________________________ 5. Please check the participants involved in the mediation. No discrepancies 6. Did anything happen in the mediation that proved difficult to handle and/or that you felt unprepared to handle? No Yes (if yes, record comment) 7. Please describe any modifications you would recommend for the training of permanency planning mediators: None provided Yes, see comment (Record comment in full) 69 PPMP Case Record Review Form CDRP COURT: RECORD REVIEWER: RECORD REVIEW DATE: PROGRAM SITE: Referral Date: / / PPMP CASE NUMBER: COURT CASE NUMBER: FIA CASE NUMBER: JUDGES: REFEREE: PROSECUTOR: CASA: ATTORNEY MO: ATTORNEY FA: GAL: CASE WORKER: 70 ATTORNEY SPECIFY: OTHER1: OTHER2: OTHER3: Appendix C PPMP COORDIN ATOR: PPMP MEDIATOR 1: PPMP MEDIATOR 2: REFERRING AGENCY: NAME OF REFERRAL SOURCE: MEDIATION DATE: / / LENGTH IN HOURS: START TIME: END TIME: DATE FIRST CONTACTED: / / DATE OF PRELIMINARY INQUIRY: / / CASE CLOSED DATE: / / DATE PERMANENCY WAS ACHIEVED: / / Mediation Case Record Review Form NUMBER OF CHILDREN CONCERNED: DISPOSITIONAL HEARING Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report / / REVIEW HEARING / / ADJUDICATION HEARING / / ONGOING HEARING 1 / / Evaluation data collection forms and required PPMP program reports (continued) PERMANENCY PLANNING HEARING / / ONGOING HEARING 2 / / CONTINUATION PERMANENCY / / ONGOING HEARING 3 / / PLANNING HEARING 1 CONTINUATION PERMANENCY / / ONGOING HEARING 4 / / PLANNING HEARING 2 CHILD INFORMATION CHART CHILD INFORMATION CHART LIST CHILDREN BY NAME: PRE-MEDIATION POST MEDIATION PERMANENCY DOB RACE SEX FIA RECIPIENT ID (list oldest to youngest) PLACEMENT PLACEMENT PLACEMENT M F M F M F M F M F 71 M F M F M F M F M F M F Mediation Case Record Review Form (continued) M F Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report M F Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Appendix C Evaluation data collection forms and required PPMP program reports (continued) Name ________________________________ Print Version for return by Court ________________________________ mailing or faxing Judges’ Questionnaire Permanency Planning Mediation Program Evaluation Please provide a brief summary of your thoughts and experiences with the Permanency Planning Mediation Program. We have included several questions to structure your answers. However, we are interested in any feedback you have about the use of mediation for child protection cases. What is your perception of the effectiveness of mediation in child protection cases? In your opinion, does mediation have an effect on the time it takes for a child to reach permanency in comparison to cases that are not mediated? What impact, if any, has child protection mediation had regarding parental compliance with court orders? What is your perception of the impact, if any, that mediation has had on relationships between the child welfare system stakeholders in your community? i.e. families, foster families, FIA, private agency workers, Prosecutor, GAL, other attorneys, and the Court. Do you perceive that there are cost or time savings when mediation is used in child protection cases? At what point/event do you consider a case has achieved permanency? What advice would you give another Court that was interested in implementing the Permanency Planning Mediation Program? 72 Return to School of Social Work PPMP Evaluation, 254 Baker, Michigan State University, East Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Appendix C Evaluation data collection forms and required PPMP program reports (continued) Child Welfare Agency Questionnaire Name & Job Title ________________________________ Print Version for County _________________________________________ return by faxing Public Child Welfare Questionnaire Permanency Planning Mediation Program Evaluation Please provide a brief summary of your thoughts and experiences with the Permanency Planning Mediation Program. We have included several questions to structure your answers. However, we are interested in any feedback you have about the use of mediation for child permanency planning cases. We need to receive your response as soon as possible to guarantee inclusion in the final report of the PPMP evaluation. What is your perception of the effectiveness of mediation in child protection / foster care cases? In your opinion, does mediation have an effect on the time it takes for a child to reach permanency in comparison to cases that are not mediated? What impact, if any, has child protection mediation had regarding parental compliance with court orders? What is your perception of the impact, if any, that mediation has had on relationships between the child welfare system stakeholders in your community? i.e. FIA, families, foster families, private agency workers, Prosecutor’s Office, GALs, other attorneys, and the Court. What advice would you give another FIA County Office that was interested in implementing the Permanency Planning Mediation Program? 73 Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Appendix C Evaluation data collection forms and required PPMP program reports (continued) Program Implementation Interview PPMP Evaluation Site: Permanency Planning Mediation Program Implementation Process 1. Program Name: 2. Program Implementation A Implementation Dates Start Date: End Date: B Compare your actual implementation schedule to the planned program schedule: (choose one) ? Generally on schedule ? Ahead of planned schedule ? Behind planned schedule C If implementation differed from the originally planned schedule, what caused the differences? D To what extent did the differences affect the program? 3. Reflections and Lessons Learned A. If your agency were to implement the program over again, what would you like to do differently? What lessons did you learn? B. What would you be sure to do again? C. What advice might you share with another agency that was planning to implement a similar program? D. What suggestions or advice can you offer to the evaluation team about interpretation of the information you have shared about this program or Permanency Planning Mediation overall? Evaluation conducted by Implementation form Michigan State Univ School of Social Work 74 Page 1 Prosecutor’s Parents Office Family Division Relatives Court Public Child Protective Services Parents’ FIA Attorneys Community Dispute Resolution Program 75 Foster Parents Appendix C Guardians Ad Litem Public Foster Stakeholder Relationships Care Workers FIA Court Appointed Special Legend Advocate Permanency Planning Social Services Non-interactive = / / / / / Mediation Permanency Planning Mediation Pilot Program Evaluation Final Report Strong, positive = ---------------- Program CDRP Stressful, negative = - - - - - - - - Modiﬁed Eco-Map for Assessing Child Welfare System Evaluation data collection forms and required PPMP program reports (continued) Tenuous, strained = - / - / - / - / - Community Child Welfare System Eco Map. For use in evaluating PPMP pilot program