Of all our adaptations to the COVID-19 environment, the most inspiring has been the innovation and flexibility of our volunteers and staff to bring the highly personal and nuanced work of VORS and FARS mediations to a video conferencing format.
After much technical preparation and pilot testing, we debuted online mediation with immediate success. CYS Mediation Unit Specialist Jennifer Sanchez noted that families seem willing and eager to participate in online mediation. “We’re seeing fewer cancellations and serving more families than before!” Mediator Martha Sardinas said of her first online mediation, “It was wonderful. Full of good communication, very much like the in-person experience.”
While mediators have reported that many youth open up more easily in this remote format, some youth are challenged by distractions in their home environment. Mediators are getting creative for effective alternatives to community service in a time of social distancing, by turning to the educating power of the web, having youth view motivational TED Talks and YouTube presentations on vital subjects like the power of apology.
Early successes point to a strong possibility of continuing online mediation as an available option in the future.