Child & Family Services’ Center for Resolution and Justice (CRJ) announces a statewide, online advocacy campaign to restore funding for New York’s mediation programs. The campaign can be found here. We are asking Western New Yorkers to visit this web page to electronically sign a postcard that will be sent to Honorable Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of the State of New York requesting that mediation funding be restored in the upcoming State budget. The entire network of mediation centers is simultaneously asking supporters in all 62 counties to join in the call to action.
Last year’s State budget crisis forced the Unified Court System to make deep cuts, and funding for the Community Dispute Resolution Centers Program was slashed. Child & Family Services Center for Resolution and Justice, which operates this program in 8 Western New York counties, received a 40% cut in funding. This campaign asks the Court to consider whether reducing funding for mediation centers is cost effective. The cost of a mediation case at a local center averages $300. Even the most minor court action will far exceed that cost making the choice to fund mediation a cost-saving measure for the Court.
The goal of this campaign is to collect more than 5,000 electronic signatures statewide. Child & Family Services is coordinating this effort on behalf of participating mediation centers. “Advocating for the restoration of the funding that allows us to do the work we do is arguably the most important job of each and every mediation center. Yet, the cuts to mediation personnel statewide were so deep that we knew that no single center would be able to take on this project alone” said Center for Resolution and Justice Director Julie M. Loesch, Esq.
Last year, the Community Dispute Resolution Centers assisted close to 100,000 people resolve conflicts that could have otherwise resulted in increased cases for an already overburdened court system.