Earlier this year the Michigan Supreme Court released the results of a study that evaluated Michigan’s Child Protection Mediation (CPM) process when used as an alternative means of achieving permanency in child welfare cases. (The term ‘permanency’ in this case means children being returned to their permanent homes where they live with their families, as opposed to being in foster care, which is viewed as transitional.)
In total, the study found that CPM results in much better compliance from parents, improves the efficiency of the judicial process, and also yields more positive perceptions from stakeholders. But most important, it shortens the time that children spend away from their birth families and produced faster reunifications for families in the system.
Where and why was this study conducted?
The study focused on cases from Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Jackson, Marquette, and Traverse City. Participants in these counties, where CPM services were used, reported higher satisfaction scores than other families involved in traditional court proceedings. CPM actually started in 1998 in Michigan, so it’s been around for a while. The program was designed to be used at any or every stage in the Child Protection proceedings.
The study was conducted by the Grand Valley State University College of Community & Public Service and School of Criminal Justice. The goal was to find out whether mediation makes any difference to the outcome of a case after children have been removed from their parent’s care and placed into foster care. Did mediation help families get their kids back sooner? Or at all? Did it make any noticeable difference to how the parents handled the separation, and what they did to make reunification possible?
The results were clearly in favor of mediation for families fighting for their kids.
According to the study, mediation is most often used during the pretrial stage of a case, and that it results in better, and speedier outcomes for families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines the term “permanency” as “a legal permanent family living arrangement, that is, reunification with the birth family, living with relatives/guardianship, or adoption.” With any child in foster care, the goal is to achieve ‘permanency’, preferably with their own family in a safe environment.
Mediation helps in CPS cases because it allows everyone involved in the case – the child’s parents, their attorney, the child’s caseworker, the guardian ad litem, and anyone else directly involved in the child’s case, to come together in a less formal setting. They discuss the options for reunification, hash out concerns, and make sure that everyone is on the same page. On the whole, because they’re less formal than a court hearing, and everyone involved is present and gets a chance to speak, they help move the case forward faster and make it easier to reach a resolution.
We can help you with every stage of your CPS case!
If your children have been removed from your care, or your parental rights are at risk of being terminated, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5145. Our skilled and experienced CPS defense attorneys have been fighting for parents’ rights in Michigan for decades. We’re dedicated to defending families against being torn apart, and will do everything in our power to help you reach a suitable resolution in your case. Don’t wait – call us now and make sure your family is protected from the start!