Qualitative analysis of private mediation: Benefits for families in public child welfare agencies

D. Terri Heath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A pilot project of mediated adoptions was offered to parents in permanency planning units in seven branches of a state's public protective child welfare agency. Three research questions guided the study: First, can mediated agreements provide an effective and efficient alternative to adversarial Termination of Parental Rights procedures within a public protective service agency caseload of highly abusive and neglectful parents? Second, can mediated agreements enable birth parents and caseworkers to reach a resolution to the family's crisis more quickly, and therefore less costly, than is true for the customary adversarial method? Third, of the parties involved (attorneys, birth parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, caseworkers, and agency supervisors) which find mediation to be beneficial? It was decided that three areas of program evaluation would be tested using three unique sources of data, collected independently to ensure the highest standard by which to evaluate this program. These three sources were: 1) interviews with caseworkers, 2) written questionnaires by parents and service providers, 3) empirical data on families who entered into cooperative agreements. Mediation was found to be effective by all three measurements, thereby providing first-time evidence that mediation can change parents' views regarding adoption and provide them with an avenue for voluntary relinquishment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-627
Number of pages23
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 1998
Externally publishedYes


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