Our projects promote mediation to resolve conflict and create win-win solutions.
Our projects focus on three areas - providing affordable mediation services to anyone who is seeking to avoid traditional litigation, teaching mediation skills and educating future mediators, and providing avoidable parent workshops and communication building classes. Our affordable mediation services allow more of our community to access justice. Our parent workshops and communication classes teach conflict management techniques and useful tools, that help our attendees acquire practical knowledge in recognizing and diffusing their own disputes. Our trainings increase the supply of skilled mediators in our community, and help grow mediation. We regularly speak at engagements on the topic of mediation, and we also host special events to expand our community's knowledge of mediation. This encourages our community to resolve disputes peacefully.
We offer affordable mediation services.
Mediation is a great tool for resolving disputes peacefully. We work with the courts in the greater Richmond area to provide free mediation for both civil and family disputes. These costs are funded by grants and private donations. Our private mediation fees are on a sliding scale based upon income. This ensures that everyone in our community can afford mediation and access justice.
COURT MEDIATION AND COORDINATION PROGRAM
Last year, the Supreme Court of Virginia provided us with $178,856.75 to help fund our court mediation program. Last year, this grant helped more than 3,000 individuals in the Greater Richmond area receive mediation services.
We coordinate and provide mediation services for Chesterfield Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. Our trained intake staff contact parties referred to mediation by the Court. The intake staff answer questions on mediation, ensure the parties are suitable for mediation and schedule a mediation if appropriate. One of our experienced mediators sits in court twice a week to mediate referral cases during the docket. We also hold scheduled mediations at our office. We thank the Court for promoting mediation and their support of us.
We teach mediation skills and raise awareness.
Orientation to mediation
We introduce mediation to our community through our free bi-weekly Orientation to Mediation course. This course explains the mediation process and its benefits.
We teach our United Parents, Separate Homes and Communication Matters parent workshops monthly. The goal of these workshops is to help parents understand the effects of separation on children and teach them to work together to effectively parent across two homes. These workshops are provided free to parties when referred by the Court.
We introduced a new program with the support of the Department of Social Services and DCSE to provide free parent workshops and mediation for parents with an open child support dispute. The parent workshops are separated for mothers and fathers and are to be followed by mediation. The workshops offer vital mediation tools to help parents communicate with each other and work together for the benefit of their child. With these new tools, parents come to mediation to work on parenting plans, child support, and custody and visitation concerns. Mediation is more successful when both parents have attended a parent workshop. This program is aimed at those with difficult or complex issues. Its goal is to help children have better access to both parents; this is core to children's human rights.
Domestic violence in the workplace
We partner with businesses to provide workshops, brown bag breakfasts and lunches on mediation and domestic violence issues. Domestic violence is a pandemic in our society today, affecting one in four females and one in seven males in the United States.[i] It is a threat to our peace and security as it feeds a cycle of conflict. Domestic violence costs employers billions of dollars each year. Most abusers threaten or harass their partners at work and it is one of the most significant threats to workplace safety. This results in a loss in productivity and the termination of good employees. We work with managers to raise awareness of domestic violence so that they recognize the signs and create a zero tolerance policy for violence. Employers can use mediation to help survivors maintain their jobs, and therefore their financial independence and ability to escape the situation. Raising awareness of domestic violence is essential to stopping this pandemic. While it remains a taboo topic, we lack the ability to help survivors of domestic violence and jeopardize our safety.
We educate future mediators.
We develop and implement peer mediation programs for local area schools and colleges. We created a new training program to train Resident Advisors and other residential life staff members at local colleges last year. Our Residential Life Education program teaches students how to effectively communicate and listen, overcome various barriers to conflict resolution, and create plans in order to avoid future conflict. Our goal is to help students strengthen and improve their school community by promoting a calm and safe environment and a healthy approach to conflict resolution. This helps reduce violence as a means of problem solving.
The elderly are the fastest growing population demographic in this country. Since we are typically living longer, we must face difficult family conversations on elder care, estate and trust planning and other highly emotive life decisions. These conversations often cause family strife. There is currently no organization that provides mediation services focused on elder issues in the Richmond community.
Last year, seven of our mediators trained in elder law and issues. It is our goal to raise awareness of elder mediation and increase its use in family disputes involving elders. Mediation is a confidential process that can successfully navigate family dynamics and emotions. Mediation allows each party to be heard; this is particularly important for seniors who are often overlooked in the decision-making.