Birth to 3 mediation is a voluntary process that allows parties to work together in an effort to resolve conflict. The process is collaborative and focuses on the needs of the parties. According to both Federal and State law, the mediation is private and the discussion is confidential and allows parents and county representatives to express their views and concerns openly. Research shows that mediation is less adversarial and more time and cost effective than impartial hearings. Mediation does not delay or deny the right to a due process hearing. While the dispute is being resolved, the child must continue to receive early intervention services unless the parents and the county administrative agency agree otherwise. The mediators’ fees are paid for through state funds.
Submit a request form
A parent or county administrative agency, or both, may initiate a request for mediation services. Persons requesting mediation will contact the Birth to 3 Mediation System using a request for mediation form. The request should include a brief description of the dispute and identify both parties. Jane Burns, the neutral system intake coordinator, with Burns Mediation Services, coordinates the case management; including intake, screening, and referral to a mediator.
This can be a Joint Request: A joint request is the most efficient method of requesting mediation. In a joint request, both parties to the dispute jointly sign and mail, fax, or scan and email a single request for mediation form to the system. The Birth to 3 Mediation System will work with the parties to agree upon a trained mediator from the system list.
Or, a Single Request: In a single request, only one party starts the mediation process. The requesting party can mail, fax, or scan and email a request for mediation form to the system. The system intake coordinator will notify the other party within 1 business day of the receipt of the request-with a copy of the request form and a letter. This letter will request that the other party notify the system, within 3 business days after receiving the notice, of its willingness to participate in mediation or not. The Birth to 3 Program or the system is available to either party to explain the benefits of the mediation process and answer questions.
If the other party notifies the Birth to 3 Mediation System of its refusal to participate in mediation or if the system does not receive a timely response, the system intake coordinator will notify the party that requested mediation. If the responding party agrees to mediate, the case will be referred to a trained mediator the parties agree upon.
A due process hearing does not need to be initiated in order to access mediation services. Mediation can be requested at anytime in a dispute. However, mediation may not deny or delay a party’s rights to a due process hearing or any Rights afforded under the Birth to 3 Program. The results of mediation cannot be used in the hearing process without the consent of both parties.
The Mediation Session
Unless both parties agree otherwise, mediation shall begin within fourteen (14) calendar days after the mediator is appointed, mediation shall not delay hearings or civil action related to the dispute. The mediator will contact the parties to arrange the mediation session. Mediation sessions will be conducted at a day, time, and place convenient to all parties. The mediator will ask the parties to sign an Agreement to Mediate, which contains a confidentiality provision that all discussions in mediation are confidential and cannot be used in any future legal proceeding.
The mediator does not impose a decision on the parties, as is done in a impartial hearing, but rather assists the parties to work together to identify issues, generate options, and create their own solutions. Because mediation is voluntary, either party (or the mediator) may end the mediation process at any time.
All discussions that occur during mediation are confidential and may not be used as evidence in any future due process hearing or civil proceeding.
The Written Agreement
If the parties resolve the dispute or a portion of the dispute, the mediator can assist the parties in preparing the written agreement. The parties sign the agreement and a copy of the agreement is given to each party. The agreement is legally binding upon the parties and the implementation of the agreement is solely the responsibility of the parties.