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Vermont Considering Mediation to Help with CPS Backlog

Tuesday, September, 17, 2019

Those overseeing the backlog of Child Protective Services cases in the state of Vermont could turn to mediation to help alleviate some of the burden. This comes after there has been an influx of reason cases related to allegations of child neglect.


According to the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Children and Families, Ken Schatz, the state’s family courts have been overwhelmed with child welfare cases. As a result, he has made arrangements to speak to the Vermont Legislature after the first of the year and ask that “an alternative dispute resolution” program be funded by the state. He believes it could result in the resolution of many of the cases before they go to court.


Schatz explained, "We do think that that is a really important tool to have to try to enable some of these matters to move through the system in a more collaborative manner and hopefully have better outcomes and results.”


In addition to the Scott administration supporting the mediation program, a work group created by the Legislature also believes the program would be helpful. The group has been studying a similar mediation program in Arizona and believes it could be equally successful in Vermont. The Arizona program has offered mediation services to 1100 families and it saw a success rate as high as 90 percent during the course of the program.


Officials in Vermont called the Arizona program “family-centric, family-led, and therapeutic” and able to save the state millions of dollars. They want to duplicate those same benefits for families in their state.