This is the final post in our “On Co-Mediation” series. Read the other posts here:
Through most of this series, posts have focused on individual co-mediation experiences, personal experiences of mediators who commonly mentor newer mediators and the business benefits and opportunities co-mediation may afford. What about from a larger, program perspective? Between May 2011 and March 2012 Mediate BC and the Child Protection Mediation Program operated a joint Child Protection Co-Mediation Pilot Project. Colleen Getz of C.A. Walker & Associates produced an Outcome Assessment of this pilot project.
The project had three main objectives:
- To provide professional development and practice support for child protection mediators
- To increase internal capacity of the Child Protection Mediation Program (CPMP) to deliver culturally relevant mediation services through mediators on the Child Protection Mediation Roster
- To design, develop, and provide opportunities to explore the effectiveness of a new model of mediation service delivery in child protection mediation.
A brief note about the process is probably important, as the project differs from how a private practice might engage in co-mediation.
Interested child protection mediators identified areas of interest for professional development through the co-mediation opportunity. Mediate BC received mediation referrals from various sources throughout the province and tried to match co-mediators by area of interest and background to the mediation referrals received (co-mediators were assigned, not selected by participating mediators). BC is a big province, and this approach quickly created budgetary problems so location was introduced as a primary consideration in co-mediator matching.
Splitting fees in co-mediation wasn’t a consideration as both mediators on each case were paid their standard rate set by the Child Protection Mediation Program so discussions around fees for the co-mediators were not a part of this project. The question of client billing for co-mediation also wasn’t a factor given child protection mediators are not paid by the participating families, but through their service contract with the Child Protection Mediation Program.
Highlights from the Outcome Assessment of the Child Protection Co-Mediation Pilot Project
From the Mediators
What were the mediators’ experiences of the co-mediation pilot project?
- 72% of mediators found the feedback from their co-mediator was beneficial or very beneficial
- 92% reported they would be interested in co-mediating again
- 44% of Mediator Survey respondents indicated the primary purpose of co-mediation is connected to learning opportunities (training and continuing professional development)
So what did mediators identify as the benefits of co-mediation?
“I found this to be a wonderful piece of experiential learning. The coordination of our different approaches required me to really think about what I was doing and to see the mediation unfold from another perspective then the one I am immersed in.” – a Mediation Survey Respondent
“Overall, this was a great experience and the opportunity to get feedback on my mediation style was invaluable. I would be willing to co-mediate again and, specifically, to co-mediate with this mediator. Thank you for this opportunity!” – a Post Mediation Evaluation Respondent
From the mediation participants
Interesting feedback also came from the mediation participants in how they perceived co-mediation.
Mediation participants identified large mediations, with multiple parties or participants (81%) and mediations in which there is significant conflict between the parties (75%) as the two types of cases most ideally suited to mediation. Mediators agreed with regard to large mediations (92%) but selected mediations in which the subject matter or other technical/legal requirements of the mediation are outside a particular mediator’s area of expertise as the other type most ideally suited to co-mediation (92%).
“2 sets of ears were a lot better than one set. Having 2 mediators present were able to hear all involved & perhaps different views.” – a Co-Mediation Services Questionnaire Respondent
Capturing some highlights from the report does not give a full and nuanced view of the co-mediation pilot project overall. If one is interested in co-mediation, it is well worth the time to read the Outcome Assessment and consider these findings along with the experiences and thoughts shared earlier in this series.
Outcome Assessment of the Child Protection Co-Mediation Pilot Project
Read more about the Child Protection Co-Mediation Pilot Project. Those particularly interested in the service delivery model question may want to learn more about the Child Protection Mediation Scheduling Services.
 Funded by the Legal Services Society of BC, the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development, Mediate BC, and the Law Foundation of BC.
[Editor’s note: Many of the posts in this series refer to the personal experiences of the author. When considering applying to a Mediate BC Roster, please be sure to review the requirements at mediatebc.com.]