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Child Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Mediation Pilot Project

NCJ Number
Juvenile and Family Court Journal Volume: 53 Issue: 4 Dated: Fall 2002 Pages: 67-77
Louis A. Trosch Jr.; Linda Thomas Sanders J.D.; Sharon Kugelmass Ph.D.
Date Published
11 pages
This article describes Mecklenburg County, North Carolina’s Child Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Mediation Pilot Project designed to achieve a 1 year goal from removal to permanence for children taken into protective custody.
After describing how, in 1998, the 26th Judicial District in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, was one of three judicial districts selected by the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts to pilot a Family Court, the authors explain how when the Family Court began in 1999 it did not yet meet the Federal Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) established goal of 1 year from removal to permanence for all children taken into protective custody. Discussing the Child Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Mediation Pilot Project (CANDM) as one approach selected by Mecklenburg County Family Court to help achieve ASFA’s 1 year goal, the authors detail the development of a stakeholder group as key to getting individuals involved in a mediation process that incorporated their goals. After describing the CANDM Pilot Project’s objectives as reducing the amount of time from removal of a child from his or her home to the development and achievement of a permanent placement for the child, to increase parental compliance with case plans, to improve the quality of case plans, to ensure satisfaction with the mediation process, to reduce the number of court hearings by 40 percent, and to reach full or partial agreement in at least 60 percent of mediated cases without having to resort to litigation, the authors evaluate this pilot project. The authors found that the mediated sessions improved communication among family members, created a better understanding of the Department of Social Services’ expectations for parents, and eliminated the need for a protracted court trial. While not all of the initial goals of the pilot project were met, the authors are optimistic that continued use of CANDM will accomplish all of Mecklenburg County’s goals for dependency mediation.


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