CENTRAL SUSQUEHANNA VALLEY MEDIATION CENTER, INC.
The Central Susquehanna Valley Mediation Center, Inc. (CSVMC) was founded in 2010 to provide a place where people in conflict could be assisted in having constructive conversations. The Center’s 30 volunteer mediators, working together in pairs of two, facilitate communication between people in conflict and help them find constructive ways to move forward. All mediators participate in at least 40 hours of professional training. Three of the center’s mediators are permanently certified by the international Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and the Executive Director is a nationally certified trainer. In all, volunteers provide more than 160 hours of service per month to the Center.
CSVMC serves primarily Union and Snyder counties but also helps people from nearby counties. Since its founding seven years ago CSVMC has received more than 1800 cases involving nearly four thousand individuals. While the majority of those served are referred by the courts for custody and visitation issues, many others have also used the Center’s services to deal with other kinds of conflicts.
The results of the services provided have been very consistent over the seven years of the center’s operation. 85% of the 4,000 individuals served said that mediation helped them communicate with the other person and get clearer about their situation. 68% said that mediation helped the other person understand their point of view. Nearly 90% said that they would consider mediation for resolving future situations and/or recommend mediation to others.
One added benefit of the center’s work is assisting the courts in dealing with their caseload. Of the court referred mediations held in 2016, about half resulted in a written agreement or withdrawal of the court complaint. In addition, during mediation new communication patterns often emerge that reduce the likelihood of cases coming back to the court. And, of course, if parents can deal with their conflict in a constructive way the children will ultimately benefit.
In addition to mediation services, the Center also provides an instructive workshop for separating parents called “Kid’s First.” Children react to the separation or divorce of their parents in very different ways. The purpose of this workshop is to help parents identify those things that may hurt their children and encourage those things that can help them. During 2016, 325 parents participated in these workshops and 90% reported that it enabled them to help their children move through the difficult transition caused by parental separation and/or divorce.
CSVMC’s funding is derived from grants from the counties served, fees assessed by the courts, and private donations.
Many people “self-refer”, calling the clinic to schedule mediations for personal conflicts, which range from custody/divorce to elder care to neighborhood and consumer disputes.
Mediations are held in both Selinsgrove and Lewisburg.