340:75-7-291. Foster care mediation
(a) Foster care mediation program. The Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth (OCCY), Office of Juvenile System Oversight, pursuant to Section 601.6(B)(3) of Title 10 of the Oklahoma Statutes (10 O.S. § 601.6(B)(3)) established in accordance with the Dispute Resolution Act, 12 O.S. §§ 1801 through 1813 a voluntary program for foster parents to mediate complaints concerning the rights of foster parents, as provided in 10A O.S. § 1-9-119, that relate to certain actions, inactions, or decisions of Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS), Department of Juvenile Justice, or child-placing agencies that may adversely affect the safety and well-being of the child in the custody of the state.
(1) The mediation program is confidential, fair, speedy, and free. Participants retain any rights they may have to request a hearing or file a court action or complaint.
(2) Mediation is an effective way to help parties who disagree discuss the problem and come to a mutually acceptable resolution.
(3) Mediation is not a substitute for legal assistance. Legal assistance is not provided by the mediator.
(b) Requests. A request for mediation must meet criteria. The dispute must concern:
(1) the child in OKDHS or Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) custody;
(2) the rights of the foster parent;
(3) the action, inaction, or decision of the child-placing agency; or
(4) an adverse effect on the health, safety, or welfare of the child in OKDHS or OJA custody.
(c) Mediators. The mediator:
(1) is a community volunteer who has special training;
(2) is certified pursuant to the Dispute Resolution Act;
(3) is experienced in mediation;
(4) is trained in issues involving the Foster Parent Bill of Rights, the juvenile justice system, and the Child Welfare system; and
(5) does not judge or decide the issue, but helps parties find their own resolution.
(d) Foster care mediation process. The OCCY toll-free number for the foster care mediation program is 1-800-822-0899 or in Oklahoma City 405-606-4925. OCCY receives requests for mediation and contacts all parties to seek voluntary involvement in the process. When each party agrees, the case is referred to the Alternative Dispute Resolution System of the Administrative Office of the Courts. Early Settlement Centers uses a network of volunteers to mediate the cases within five business days. The procedure in this subsection is followed.
(1) OCCY intake receives the request for mediation.
(2) OCCY intake logs in the information.
(3) The post adjudication review board (PARB) coordinator screens the mediation request for eligibility criteria.
(4) When the request meets criteria, the PARB coordinator contacts the foster parent and child-placing agency to seek the agreement of each party to mediate pursuant to the Dispute Resolution Act, or when the request does not meet criteria, the PARB coordinator recommends an alternative course of action.
INSTRUCTIONS TO STAFF
1.The OKDHS district director is the point of contact for mediation and makes the decision to mediate.The child welfare (CW) supervisor and specialist may attend mediation at the district director's discretion.
(1) The availability of the child protective services appeal process, per OAC 340:75‑1-12.2, allows the OKDHS district director to choose not to mediate issues involving the findings of an investigation.
(2) The due process involved in a court decision allows the OKDHS district director to choose not to mediate court decisions.Mediation may be considered prior to court hearings to obtain recommendations agreed upon by each party.