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Archive for the ‘Special Topic’ Category

Grant-Funded Research Adds to Evidence on How to Make Eviction Mediation Effective

Eric Slepak-Cherney, November 21st, 2022

Last month, RSI reached the end of an 18-month grant from the American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution (AAA-ICDR) Foundation. A primary goal of the grant was to provide guidance to courts nationwide about addressing the eviction crisis arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. As that project has come to a close, we at RSI would like to look back at what we accomplished, and learned, from the experience.

Our Eviction Mediation Program and Special Topic

The first focus of the grant was to help us establish a local court mediation program, serving Kane County, Illinois. While it may seem counterintuitive that a project with a focus on national guidance invest in a local program, our approach at RSI is to utilize our mediation programs as “laboratories” for the research and evaluation that is core to our mission. We have a long history of designing and administering programs, and as part of that work, we implement established best practices, set up robust monitoring and evaluation systems, and carefully and thoughtfully test out different approaches to help us achieve the goals we set for our programs. The Kane County Eviction Mediation program is no exception (See related article above), and it served as the basis for many exciting accomplishments of the project, detailed further below.

Our next big milestone was developing the Eviction Mediation Special Topic. Special Topics are collections of resources RSI curates around court alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as it relates to different subject matter (e.g., child protection mediation and restorative justice) or interested parties (e.g., judges and lawyers). For eviction, we sought to develop a Special Topic collection that was both topical to the present crisis and also highlighted the best research, guidance and tools for those invested in the development and administration of effective eviction diversion programs.

Blogs and Evaluation Projects

Throughout the 18 months of the grant, the RSI team was regularly blogging about our experiences developing and administering our programs, and what we were learning from others across the country. A few highlights from our blogging include glimpses into innovative program models in Hawaii and Philadelphia, and program design considerations such as working with rental assistance programs and cultivating buy-in from landlords. Additionally, a pair of Q&As with our Programs Manager Chris Riehlmann and our Kane County Program Coordinator Christina Wright provide a great look into what it really takes to make these program work day in and day out.

Finally, and most significantly, the grant supported several evaluative projects we embarked on over this past year and a half. We analyzed the results of our post-mediation surveys to assess whether our programs were providing procedural justice to participants. After reflecting on the steps we’d taken to develop programs and conducting interviews with key program personnel and partners, RSI published program implementation guides to give others nationwide a manual of sorts for building and tweaking their own programs. The project culminated in an evaluation of the Kane County program’s first 13 months (summarized in the article above by RSI Director of Research Jennifer Shack), assessing program use, services provided, mediation outcomes and participant experience.

A Few Key Findings

The amount of information we have learned and done our best to share during the course of this project has been staggering. While any summation is sure to be incomplete, we’d like to leave you with a few key findings from the project:

  1. Integrated and holistic service delivery approaches truly made for better outcomes. Programs that took a comprehensive and progressive approach to combatting eviction saw more agreements and fewer evictions. Similarly, programs that brought more partners to the table, including social service agencies, advocacy groups, state and municipal representatives, and others, saw greater success. While eviction cases are ultimately resolved by courts, the underlying issues are economic and social in nature, and collaboration with entities that address those causes is highly valuable.
     
  2. Good eviction mediations take time. Prior to the pandemic, mediation in housing disputes, in many jurisdictions, was typically an event that took place on the day of the first court appearance and lasted no more than half an hour. Unsurprisingly, agreement rates in this context were generally low. A number of programs we worked with noted that utilizing a model where mediation was done outside of court (and the time constraints that usually entails) resulted in greater agreement. Allotting more time for the session gave greater opportunity to work through impasse, and scheduling mediation for an advance date gave parties the time to better prepare for mediation, including taking stock of finances, asking for support, applying for rental assistance, and consulting attorneys.
     
  3. Remote mediation, which is the norm for RSI’s programs and many others still, continues to offer mixed blessings for participants. The flexibility afforded parties by doing remote mediation meant many more parties could participate without taking a day off work, critical for parties trying desperately to pay back past due rent. On the other hand, our data noted that about 1 in 6 needed to borrow a device or leave home to participate virtually, and 1 in 5 experienced some sort of technical difficulty. Making sure that in-person accommodations could be offered to those who could not or would prefer not to participate virtually ought to be a priority to ensure access, and RSI did so with our Kane County program.

We are tremendously grateful to the AAA-ICDR Foundation for its support of this project.

Two New RSI Special Topics Available

Susan M. Yates, December 21st, 2021

RSI is pleased to announce we have added two new Special Topics to our Resource Center. One is about Restorative Justice and its relationship to court ADR and the other is about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility in court ADR. RSI develops Special Topics from time to time to respond to issues people who work with court ADR are facing. These latest Special Topics join others on subjects such as eviction mediation, online dispute resolution and child protection mediation.

Both these Special Topics were made possible by a grant from the American Arbitration Association – International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation. Thank you to the AAA-ICDR Foundation!

New Eviction Mediation Special Topic Offers Courts Guidance in Midst of Housing Crisis

Eric Slepak-Cherney, June 25th, 2021

This article is part of a series of perspectives on eviction mediation program development that is being supported by the American Arbitration Association-International Centre of Dispute Resolution Foundation. The AAA-ICDR’s grant is enabling RSI to expand our outreach to other court ADR colleagues working in the fast-evolving eviction field, and we are tremendously grateful to the Foundation for their support.

Those of you familiar with Resolution Systems Institute will know that over the past year, we have been heavily focused on the rise in eviction cases in the aftermath of COVID-19. This evolving eviction crisis has begun to, and will continue to, test the capacity of our court systems in a way likely not seen since the foreclosure wave of the last decade.  RSI’s mission is to strengthen access to justice through court ADR, and with many courts looking at diversion efforts to address a surge in eviction cases, we see both significant opportunities and challenges ahead to ensure that participants receive due process.

We are thus very proud to share with you our new Eviction Mediation Special Topic. In the past, we have shared with you our Special Topics collections on subjects such as Child Protection Mediation, Community Mediation and Online Dispute Resolution, to name a few. These resources provide background on how court ADR programs address these cases, share insight into how to evaluate such programs and share relevant resources such as articles, evaluations and sample materials.

The Eviction Mediation Special Topic contains all of this information, with a slight twist. Due to the topical nature of this subject, we have prepared this resource in the context of the current crisis. Background information and certain resources are therefore presented with current events in mind, and we also have a section about key considerations we have learned thus far into the eviction crisis. Additionally, we have done our best to collect information on active court ADR eviction programs, captured in our Eviction ADR Across the Country database. We plan to update the Special Topic regularly as developments unfold, and new collective knowledge becomes available to the field.

We are sincerely grateful to the American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation, whose generous funding has enabled us to create and share this resource.

RSI and NAFCM’s Community Mediation Special Topic Now Available for Download!

Nicole Wilmet, August 27th, 2019

RSI’s Special Topics summarize and explore various topics related to court ADR and are categorized by profession and subject. Last year, RSI and the National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM) collaborated and released a Community Mediation Special Topic. We are pleased to announce that this Special Topic is now available for download!

In this Special Topic you will find:

  • The background and history of community mediation
  • The relationship between courts and community mediation
  • Information on how to track and evaluate community mediation programs and activities
  • A list of exemplary studies on the effectiveness of community mediation and research that helps centers to better address issues surrounding the provision of services.

We hope you find this resource to be helpful in your work!

RSI Receives Irwin Cantor Award and Two New Resources Now Available on AboutRSI.org

Susan M. Yates, June 14th, 2019

Dear Friend of RSI,

We have had a wonderful start to the summer here at RSI! From a trip to Toronto to new updates to AboutRSI.org, I am delighted to share some exciting updates and our latest resources with you!

RSI Receives Irwin Cantor Award

In May, Director of Research Jennifer Shack and I attended the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts’ 56th Annual Conference in Toronto, Canada. While there, RSI was awarded the AFCC’s Irwin Cantor Innovative Program Award. The Irwin Cantor Innovative Program Award was created to recognize innovation in court-connected or court-related programs. All of us at RSI thank the AFCC for this honor and for recognizing the work we are doing. We look forward to continuing to serve the court ADR community!

Jennifer Shack, me, and AFCC Executive Director Peter Salem at the AFCC Conference.

Introducing Our New Online Dispute Resolution Special Topic!

I am excited to introduce our new Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Special Topic with you! With courts across the country exploring ODR at a rapid pace, our latest special topic provides a thoughtful context and guidance on how court administrators and stakeholders should approach the intersection of technology and dispute resolution. The special topic contains a history of ODR, considerations for courts, and a compilation of helpful resources.

RSI’s Newly Updated Court ADR Across the U.S.

Are you curious about what court ADR looks like across the country? Look no further than our Court ADR Across the U.S. which is the most comprehensive collection of court ADR resources for state courts throughout the country. Our newly updated resource contains the latest court ADR information for each state. Each state page provides an overview of relevant statutes, statewide court ADR rules, policies, evaluations, studies, and articles.

If you enjoy or utilize our resources, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to RSI here. Your donation will be put to work improving access to justice through quality court ADR.

Thank you as always for your support and your interest in our mission of improving access to justice by enhancing court ADR.

Susan M. Yates

Executive Director

Resolution Systems Institute