During Fiscal Year 2020, the Parent Mediation Program operated in its usual fashion, providing services to eligible parties referred by Probate & Family Court Divisions and non-court sources in Massachusetts until March 16, 2020 when non-emergency access to the court was curtailed, and constraints on inter-personal contact were urged due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Program persevered with its functions for the remainder of the fiscal year by converting as many of its operations as possible into electronic form. All five centers participating in the PMP offered parties the opportunity to mediate remotely. The annual referral and mediation targets set up for the year were surpassed but to a lesser extent than the previous year. A decline in PMP activities during the final third of the year was probably attributable to the general pandemic shutdown. PMP mediation impacted parties, including remotely mediating parties. An agreement rate of 89% and a parenting-plan development rate of 79% were produced. Mediation helped most parties improve their interactions with one another, such as bettering communication, reducing conflict, and increasing civility. minorities of parties acknowledged progress at their mediation sessions with respect to child-related issues that concerned access, visitation, parent’s time with the child, the other parent’s involvement with the child, and parent participation in the child’s education or extra-curricular activities. PMP services won the approval of over 90% of participating parties. Post-mediation survey responses from parties who engaged in remote mediation exhibited the same trends regarding mediation satisfaction and outcomes as those of the entire group of surveyed PMP parties.
Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration. (2020, July). Parent Mediation Program Evaluation Report: Fiscal Year 2020. Boston, MA: Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration, University of Massachusetts Boston