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Research Report: Assessing Mediation in Washoe County, NV

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Mediation is a recommended form of alternate dispute resolution that is becoming increasingly popular in the juvenile dependency court system, as it allows parties to settle contested matters in a non-adversarial way that provides all individuals involved with a vioce in the decision-making process. In 2011, Washoe County implemented a mediation program for child abuse and neglect court cases. The Nevada Administrative Office of the Courts contracted with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to evaluate this program. The program was evaluated with a multi-method approach, including structured interviews, online surveys, satisfaction surveys, and case file review. Overall, results of the study were positive, with high satisfaction with the program and a general indication (from parents), that they felt heard and respected as part of the process. Challenges to implementing a mediation program were highlighted in the study, as well as outcome differences between mediated and non-mediated termination of parental rights cases.