About the Child Protection Mediation Practicum

History of the Practicum

The Child Protection Practicum (CPP) was launched in the spring of 2006 after a comprehensive consultation period with various stakeholders in the dispute resolution and child-welfare fields. In its six years of operation, the CPP provided opportunities for new mediators and individuals recognized by their communities to develop their dispute resolution skills in a hands-on, mentored environment. Through the program, the CPP hoped to empower communities by supporting child protection dispute resolution processes that were collaborative, culturally adaptive, and responsive to community values.

Development of the CPP began as a means to populate the province with mediators from Aboriginal and geographically remote communities, places which there had previously been few or no mediators or mediation services. The CPP development team helped to facilitate the start-up, organization, and initial training of various community-based practicum cohorts that had been identified as targeted areas of need. These initiatives were developed through a process of consultation with local community stakeholders, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and the Dispute Resolution Office of the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Many different groups collaborated in the development of the CPP. Without the generous funding and support from the Law Foundation, Ministry of the Attorney General, and Ministry of Children and Family Development, the practicum would not have been possible. Several First Nations delegated agencies, such as Carrier Sekani Child and Family Services, Kla-how-eya, Hulitan Family and Community Services Society and several delegated agencies from the interior of the province, were instrumental in ensuring the CPP’s success.

The CPP’s seven major program objectives were to:

  • Support the growth of Child Protection mediation in Aboriginal or geographically remote communities throughout British Columbia, by accepting into the program applicants who would contribute to goal of building capacity for Child Protection mediation in targeted communities throughout the province;
     
  • Recruit candidates for mediation training in specified communities in which it had been difficult to recruit child protection mediators;
     
  • Identify and facilitate the provision of pre-requisite training needed by candidates to ensure they were ready to take part in a practicum;
     
  • Deliver practicum training in child protection cases;
     
  • Support qualified practicum graduates as they applied to the Child Protection Mediation Roster;
     
  • Support a justice and conflict resolution environment that offered a wide range of dispute resolution and collaborative practice options in the justice system in British Columbia; and
     
  • Enhance the profile and credibility of dispute resolution options in the community.

How did the practicum work?

As practicum mediators entered the program they attended a mandatory practicum orientation session before completing four Small Claims Practicum Mediations with mentor mediators from that Mediate BC Program. Once completed, another mandatory orientation session was held specifically to ensure practicum mediators were fully informed on specific child protection issues and concerns. Then practicum mediators were scheduled for individual mediations where they were paired with a qualified mentor who supervised and co-mediated with the practicum mediator. The mentors were skilled and experienced Child Protection mediators and members in good standing of the BC Mediator Roster Society. The mentors worked closely with the practicum mediator to prepare for, and conduct each co-mediation and provided constructive feedback on mediator progress and skill development.  Practicum mediators worked with a variety of mentors throughout the practicum to ensure a diverse learning experience.

The CPP relied on referrals to the practicum from various sources in order to provide the practicum mediators with the requisite mentored mediation experience. Child Protection mediation referrals were made to the CPP by staff from MCFD or a Delegated Agency, parent’s counsel, judges, or parents. Once a case was referred to the CPP, the Scheduling Coordinator contacted the parent(s) or guardian, social worker, lawyers, and any other persons attending the mediation to set mediation times, book mediation venues and make any other necessary scheduling arrangements.  The CPP also booked the mentor and practicum mediators for the session based on availability and the learning needs of the practicum mediator.

What did the practicum accomplish?

In 2005, prior to the development of the CPP, there were 25 Child Protection mediators on the Roster, none of whom self-identified as being Aboriginal, and most of which were located in the lower mainland or other large urban centres. In 2012, after nine cohorts of practicum mediators, the Child Protection Mediator Roster, boasts 81 Child Protection mediators. Thirty-six of these mediators came from the practicum, 23 of which self-identify as being Aboriginal. Many of these mediators also come from smaller communities in BC, helping to fill a need for mediation services all around the province.

The two maps below visually demonstrate the breadth of communities impacted by the CPP’s programs. The blue pins on the maps represent mediators who did not come from the practicum, while the red pins on the second map represent the mediators trained and accepted to the MediateBC Roster through the CPP (some pins may represent more than one mediator).


 



In total, forty mediators from diverse backgrounds completed the Child Protection Mediation Practicum, and thirty-six were accepted to the Roster. Each of these new mediators developed new dispute resolution and mediation skills through the practicum, which they bring not only to their own practices but to their communities as well. Mediators who were not accepted to the Roster incorporate the skills and techniques developed through the practicum in other areas of conflict resolution and use these skills within their communities both formally and informally.

CPP Evaluation in 2010

In 2010, a comprehensive evaluation of the Child Protection Mediation Practicum was completed by Focus Consultants. The evaluation assessed the program’s structure and major program objectives, as well as providing recommendations for future program development.
The full report can be read below:
CPP Evaluation Final Report Revised Sep 28 2010 

Premier’s Award in 2012

In the fall of 2011, the Ministry of Justice nominated the CPP for a Premier’s Award in Innovation and Excellence in the partnership category (the partners being the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Children and Family Development, Mediate BC, The Law Foundation, Carrier Sekani, Kla-how-eya, Hulitan Family and Community Services Society and the Interior Delegated Agencies (represented by Scw’exmx Family Services. We’re very pleased to announce that in the spring of 2012, the CPP was a provincial finalist for the award.

Practicum Completion:

In the summer of 2012, the practicum closed, having achieved its mandate to:

  • Increase the number of Child Protection Roster mediators from underserved areas of the province,
     
  • Increase the number of Aboriginal mediators, and;
     
  • Provide an opportunity for practicum mediators to practice and build their dispute resolution skills

Mediation Support Services Program, in particular the now closed Child Protection Mediation Scheduling Service Project, provided administrative support for child protection mediation in BC following the practicum and co-mediation programs. To find out about these services, please visit the web page

Mediate BC is still committed to supporting child protection mediators and providing professional development programs through:

The Training and Development Department (TDD) provides additional training and professional development for mediators and other dispute resolution professionals. To find out more about upcoming programs or to contact the TDD, please visit their web page.