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FAQs about community mediation

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Here are some frequently asked questions about Community Mediation Programs with answers from the California Coalition for Community Mediation, or CCCM:

Frequently Asked Questions about Community Mediation:

1.  What is a community mediation program?
2.  What kinds of disputes do community mediation programs address?
3.  What other services do community mediation programs offer?
4.  Is mediation within the community context different than other forms of mediation?
5.  Can mediators advise me of my legal rights?
6.  What is the mission of the California Coalition for Community Mediation?


1. What is a Community Mediation program?

A Community Mediation program in California is generally an independent nonprofit organization, or a program sponsored by a public agency, social service or educational institution, that has one or more of the following characteristics:

  • The program makes available at least some of their services either for free, low cost, or sliding scale to individuals or groups in their local communities depending on income or ability to pay.
  • The program may use trained, experienced volunteers from their local communities as mediators in some or all of these services.
  • The program may receive funding to provide mediation and other conflict resolution services to their local communities through the California Dispute Resolution Programs Act (DRPA).


2. What kinds of disputes do community mediation programs address?

Typical situations community mediation programs assist with include:

  • Disputes involving neighbors dealing with such issues as property lines, fences, noise, or parking.
  • Landlord and tenant concerns such as security deposits, maintenance and rent.
  • Disputes between merchants or contractors and consumers.
  • Disputes between businesses.
  • Disputes between family members, including parent-teen conflicts
  • Plus, co-workers, youth, schools, homeowner associations, seniors, and many, many more!



3. What other services do Community Mediation Programs offer?

In addition to mediation services, Community Mediation Programs often also offer training in mediation skills, communication techniques, and other tools for dealing with conflict.

Many programs have services focused on schools including training for students, teachers, and parents, as well as supporting school-based peer-mediation programs.

Community mediation centers may also offer group meeting facilitation services for community forums, non-profit organizations and other groups.


4. Is mediation within the community context different than other forms of mediation?

Within the community setting, mediation provides an alternative method of resolving problems without having to go to court. Through the mediation process, the individuals involved in a dispute work out their own solutions with the help of a neutral third-party acting as a mediator.

Mediators usually are either trained, volunteer non-lawyers who reside in the community, or are paid individuals with backgrounds in law, psychology, or counseling.  Volunteers are trained as mediators.  They understand the mediator’s role is to work with all of the parties in a dispute to identify the issues, reduce misunderstandings, clarify priorities, vent emotions, find points of agreement, explore new areas of compromise and collaboration, and negotiate an agreement. They have learned they cannot take sides or decide the outcome of the mediation.

These mediators help guide the parties so they can find their own solutions to their problems. Community mediators understand the importance of not forcing a decision on the parties. Because the individuals involved in the dispute play active roles in resolving the problem, they usually are comfortable with and supportive of the solution.

Successful mediations often result in written agreements that are signed by both individuals in a dispute. If the parties do not reach a mutually agreeable solution, either or both of the parties may still file a court action.


5. Can mediators advise me of my legal rights?

It is not part of a mediator’s role to provide legal advice. Mediators are neutral parties, and their main responsibility is to help parties reach a mutually acceptable conclusion or resolution to a problem.  Mediators are not advisors. They are impartial, and they work equally on behalf of all parties. Therefore, a mediator can not advise an individual party of their rights.


6. What is the mission of the California Coalition for Community Mediation?

The California Coalition for Community Mediation seeks to advance the interests of community mediation and provide opportunities for information sharing and collaboration among community mediation programs. The Coalition is a group of mediation centers in California that have been working together since spring of 2004.

Additionally, the California Coalition for Community Mediation (CCCM) increases statewide collaboration of community mediation organizations in order to develop and present a clear and compelling voice in all areas where decisions are made that affect community mediation.




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