What is ADR-LINK?
ADR-LINK connects Children’s Aid Societies (CAS) with Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) professionals in the South West Region of Ontario. When a child protection case qualifies for ADR, the CAS contacts ADR-LINK to match the case with a qualified professional accepting cases within that geographical area. In addition, ADR-LINK processes payments, referrals and collects data on the program. In order to facilitate this process, ADR-LINK maintains a roster of qualified ADR professionals accepting cases in any part of the South West Region (Bruce-Grey, Chatham-Kent, Elgin, Huron-Perth, London-Middlesex, Oxford, Sarnia-Lambton, and Windsor-Essex).
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?
In situations where a child is or may be in need of protection, a Children’s Aid Society (CAS) must consider ADR if there is a possibility of going to court or already court involvement. When contested cases go to court, they take a long time to finish and it costs everyone involved a great deal of money, time, and emotional pain. Children may be left in limbo and not knowing what the future holds for them or how they will see their family. Also, the court process becomes a competition where only one side can “win.” When a judge decides the outcome after a trial, someone always walks away unhappy with the outcome and the family has lost the opportunity to develop their own family solution to the problems. ADR provides an opportunity for families to “have their say” and create a workable plan for the children.
What Are The Methods Of ADR
There are four prescribed methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) available through ADR-LINK:
- Child Protection Mediation
- Original Dispute Resolution/Indigenous Approaches
- Family Group Conferencing
- And Other/4th Option
What is the Process?
Each method of ADR (Child Protection Mediation, Family Group Conferencing, Indigenous Approaches and the 4th option) has their own unique processes. The length of process can vary depending on the type of ADR method and nature of the referral. Practitioners require time to consult and prepare participants as part of the ADR process. After the initial consultation, the Practitioner will be able to estimate how long your particular process will take. Typically, the ADR process requires less time than the court process.
What is the Cost?
ADR-LINK is funded by the Ministry of Children & Youth Services to provide ADR to families, Children’s Aid Societies and First Nation communities at no cost to the participants. Additional costs associated with the ADR process are approved on a case by case basis.
How Can I Access Services?
Any family that is involved in a child protection matter involving the Children’s Aid Society where there is a possibility of going to court or there is already court involvement, may fit the criteria to participate in ADR. Participants may include family, extended family, community supports, legal representatives, OCL (Office of the Children’s Lawyer), Elders, Chiefs, Band Representatives and other supports. Referrals to ADR-LINK are made through the Children’s Aid Society with consent from the family and/or caregivers and any children 12 and over. You may contact ADR-LINK at any time for further information about accessing services or if you have questions about how to talk with your CAS worker about making a referral.
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