The Ontario Association for Family Mediation (OAFM) has the responsibility to uphold excellent standards in the provision of Child Protection Mediation services across the province of Ontario by providing training; oversight of the roster which lists members in good standing who provide Child Protection Mediation services; support of professional development for Child Protection Mediators; and promotion and capacity building of Child Protection Mediation as a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This is all done in accordance with a contract between OAFM and the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS).
In 2006, a series of strategies were developed in three key service delivery areas by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, then known as the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, to achieve better outcomes for children and youth involved in the child welfare system. These strategies were called the ‘Transformation Agenda’.
A strategy to reduce court delays and encourage alternatives to court. The Child and Family Services Act was amended to streamline court processes and encourage alternatives to court using alternative dispute resolution strategies (ADR). The focus is on more strengths-based, inclusive and collaborative approaches to help resolve child protection disputes and encourage greater and wider family involvement in decision making and planning for children. ADR processes are managed by trained external facilitators and mediators. Child Protection Mediation is one of the prescribed forms of ADR.
MCCSS continues to Modernize Child Welfare through the review and design process underway since 2020. Child Protection Mediation is seen as a pillar for engaging families by ensuring impartiality, fairness, and balance in the decision-making process.
First, let’s be clear about what the CP Mediator does NOT do. The Mediator does not decide what happens. The Mediator’s job is to help the family describe the parts of the plan they oppose and explain why. The CAS representative – usually the worker assigned to the case – presents the CAS viewpoint. Maybe by having this discussion, they can find a new plan that is acceptable to the CAS and to the family.