Kane County seeks mediation volunteers for new program for abused kids

Kane County is seeking volunteer mediators for a new Child Protection Mediation Program intended to bring together families, social service agencies and other parties to speed up solutions in cases of abuse and neglect.

The 16th Judicial Circuit has partnered with the Chicago-based Resolution Systems Institute on the program, which is funded through the end of 2017 with grants from the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, the Illinois Bar Foundation and the state's Supreme Court's Court Improvement Program.

Kevin Malone, Kane County Mediation Program manager for Resolution Systems Institute, said the goal is to bring all parties in abuse and neglect cases for minors to one table to speed up the path for a permanent solution - be it a return home or even adoption going forward.

"We're coming in after a report has been made. Our objective is to help facilitate moving that forward toward getting permanence," Malone said. "Children need a stable environment."

Malone said parents often meet with officials from the Department of Children and Family Services one day, and another service agency another day, and perhaps the Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA on a third day.

The only other time all parties are in the same room is in court; the mediation program works to change that by bringing all the parties together in a safe, secure setting where issues can be resolved, solutions presented and everyone - particularly parents - feels like they have a voice.

"(A courtroom) is not a great environment for open communication," Malone said. "Our hope is we can create an environment where, first, we all sit at the same table."

Malone said the program's aim is not to decide guilt in an abuse case, but to bring people together. Any party can request mediation, but a judge has final say.

Kane County Associate Judge William Parkhurst said he was eager for the program to begin. "When this program launches it will be just the third such program in the state. I am proud that this court can offer the citizens of Kane County access to a much-needed service."

Cook and McLean counties also have mediation programs, Malone said.

Mediators interested in volunteering can contact Malone at (630) 444-3128, email at, stop by Room 432 at the Third Street Courthouse in Geneva. Applications are due Dec. 12.

"We are asking a lot. We're asking for people to volunteer their time and work on very hard cases," Malone said. "(But) the work we're doing is going to help children and families. It will have a significant impact on people."

Officials hope to have their first mediation session in February 2017.

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