Last night, RSI presented its Service to Community Award to Honorable Patricia Martin, Presiding Judge of the Child Protection Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. The award is granted to “an individual whose cumulative activities have substantially and meaningfully furthered and enhanced court-annexed ADR systems in the State of Illinois.” RSI presented the award at a reception for Northern Illinois University College of Law alumni who are now judges.
We selected Judge Martin for her work in establishing and improving the Child Protection Mediation Program. We have been impressed that she not only started the program in an effort to improve the experience of the families and children who are brought into the child welfare system, but also that she made sure to evaluate the program to see how well it was working. She didn’t hesitate to make improvements when weaknesses in the program were identified. Since the mediation program was established as a pilot in 2000, Judge Martin has expanded the program to include all case types and made mediation mandatory after the court has ruled that the children should be taken into temporary custody. The program is now averaging almost 80 mediations a month.
Disclosure: I conducted the evaluation of the program. Both Judge Martin and Susan Storcel, the program’s director, were not only open to having the program be evaluated, but were open to learning about issues with the program along with what was working well. Given how stressing evaluation can be to those being evaluated, this was quite impressive. What’s more, when they received suggestions for improvements, they used that information to improve the program.
Tags: court programs