Juvenile Court – Family Mediation Project
Wendy L. Sawyer, Director
County Courts Building
401 Bosley Avenue, Room 515
Towson, Maryland 21204
The Family Mediation Project offers parents with children in foster care an opportunity to work with social workers to plan for their children. Mediation services are provided at no cost to the participants.
A mediated agreement provides:
- What parents will need to do to have their child return home and how their social worker can help
- A visitation schedule for parents and children
- A target date to return home, if that is the goal
- A back-up action plan, if the child cannot return home
If the child cannot return home, a mediated agreement allows parents an opportunity to participate in making an action plan for their family. It also increases the possibility for a parent to maintain some connection to their child that is agreeable to the agency, the approved relative and the adoptive family.
The Juvenile Court orders mediation when children are placed in the custody of the Department of Social Services. Parents are given a mediation appointment date and must attend.
Mediation may be ordered at future Juvenile Court hearings when requested by parents, attorneys, social workers or children. If a child cannot return home, mediation may be ordered to help develop an action plan. Action plans promote the best interests of the child and include various services to assist the family.
Issues that cannot be resolved will be returned to Court for resolution.
Benefits of Mediation
The Family Mediation Project:
- Provides parents the opportunity to be more involved in planning for their children
- Builds on family strengths
- Provides parents with a powerful tool to insure that their voice will be heard
- Offers a different way to resolve disagreements between parents, social workers and children
- Promotes open communication and cooperation
- Allows for problem solving in a confidential setting with a neutral party
- Fosters creative problem solving and solutions
Participants and Mediators
Participants vary based on the issues. Birth parents and social workers are primary participants, as are children when recommended. Foster or adoptive parents and other relatives may also participate. Attorneys may be present as observers and to approve of any agreement before it is signed.
The mediators are trained professionals employed by the Court. They act as neutral parties dedicated to helping participants come to agreement on goals and services related to planning for children in foster care. The mediators have extensive experience in matters related to child custody and other family issues.