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Mediation Center of Dutchess CountyThis summer, Dan Weitz and Sheila Sproule, from the New York State Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Court Improvement Programs (ADRCIP) met with a group of board, staff, and volunteer mediators to discuss how the field is growing throughout New York State.  Dan explained that community dispute resolution centers handle almost 40,000 cases per year by providing services to courts and other system partners such as county probation and social service departments.   Because mediation provided by well trained community center mediators provides a cost effective alternative and reduces system involvement, the use of mediation is expected to grow.

With this growth in mind, making sure volunteers feel supported, have opportunities to train in advanced topics as well as learn more about the field is important. Programs are busier than ever and the Center is thankful to have such committed volunteer mediators to provide mediation for cases between business owners and customers, emotional custody and visitation cases referred from Family Court, as well as Restorative Justice cases referred from Probation between youth and those that they harm, to name just a few.  Not only do mediators devote time to advanced training, but for each hour of a volunteer's time in a family or restorative justice mediation, there is the potential to save $75 per hour of assigned counsel fees which are paid for by Dutchess County. Their service has a fiscal impact.