Established pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 99, the Child Protection Mediation Program is available to families involved in child abuse, neglect, or dependency proceedings. The program offers an opportunity to resolve issues outside of court with two neutral individuals, called mediators, in an informal and confidential setting. As in court proceedings, the focus of the mediation is the best interest of the child.
After a judge in the Child Protection Division has conducted a temporary custody hearing, any individual involved in that case may request that it be referred to mediation. The judge may either grant or deny the request. The judge may also order mediation over any party's objection. While participation in court-ordered mediation is mandatory, no participant is compelled to enter into an agreement.
Mediation sessions are facilitated by two mediators trained in child welfare issues and generally include parents and their attorneys, caregivers, and social service professionals. Often extended family members and other individuals providing support to the parents and the child participate as well. Issues typically referred to mediation include communication and relationship building, services and placement stabilization, visitation plans, and barriers to reunification or other permanency.
Mediation sessions begin with an orientation followed by openings statements by each of the participants. The issues are then identified and open discussion is held. If appropriate, the mediators may break off into smaller groups or speak with participants individually. If at the conclusion of the session an agreement is voluntarily reached by all the mediation parties, the agreement is signed and presented to the court for review and approval.
The Child Protection Mediation Program is located on the eighth floor of the Juvenile Court Center, 2245 West Ogden Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Mediation sessions are conducted Monday through Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and typically last two to three hours. Sessions are scheduled through the cooperation of the Mediation Program staff, the parties, and court personnel. For more information please call 312/433-5259 or e-mail Cp.Mediation@cookcountyil.gov.