(Neighbor, Breach of Contract, Special Education, Restorative Justice, Lemon Law, Eviction Prevention)
Community/Neighbor Mediation: Issues such as neighbor complaints, property disputes, harassment claims, landlord/tenant disputes, violation of town/city ordinances, consumer/merchant disputes and other interpersonal issues may be appropriate for mediation. Most often, the opportunity to air grievances, gain clarity, and make informed decisions leads parties to feel confident reaching a mutually acceptable agreement that in turn alleviates their stress and returns them to a better quality of life. For more information call (914) 963-6500 ext 219 in Westchester, or (845) 512-8730 in Rockland.
Breach of Contract/Small Claims: Our mediators serve close to twenty small claims courts throughout Westchester and Rockland. Homeowner/contractor disputes, personal loan defaults, consumer/merchant complaints, and other breach of contract issues may be appropriate for mediation, in or out of the court setting. Agreements reached between the parties, whether it be for payment plans, work completion, or reparation for harm done, are complied with at a much higher rate because of participants’ direct involvement in the process and investment in the outcome they’ve reached voluntarily. For more information call (914) 963-6500 ext 219 in Westchester, or (845) 512-8730 in Rockland.
Special Education: Special Education Mediation is a process by which parents of children with disabilities and school districts meet with a neutral person, a mediator, to work out their differences. It is often chosen instead of an impartial hearing as a way of resolving disagreements about a student’s special education placement, services, evaluation, or classification. In most cases, the mediator is able to help develop a solution that is acceptable to both the parent and school. For more information call (914) 963-6500, ext 206 in Westchester, or (845) 512-8731 in Rockland.
Restorative Justice Mediation provides a lens through which to view our response to crime and its impact on those affected. The criminal justice system is offender driven and asks three basic questions:
- What law was broken?
- Who broke that law?
- How do we punish the lawbreaker?
Restorative Justice is a victim driven process and seeks to restore the balance disrupted by crime and its aftermath. Restorative Justice asks these three basic questions:
- What harm was done?
- Who created that harm? (Still a strong focus on accountability)
- How can that harm be repaired and/or prevented in the future?
The Westchester and Rockland Mediation Centers of CLUSTER’s Restorative Justice Initiative focuses on youthful crime and as a result we employ a Group Conferences Model, allowing the participants to have support people, which likely include a parent or guardian, involved in the discussion. Cases are referred by Probation, The Family Court and occasionally Department of Social Services.
- Victim-Offender Group Conferencing brings together a court involved youth, who has acknowledged committing the crime and wishes to repair the harm done, and the victim, who has expressed a desire to bring his or her voice into the ultimate resolution of the case. Parties meet with trained mediators to work their way towards resolution that might include restitution, community service, service to the victim or some other suitably agreed upon action.
- Weapons Group Conferencing brings together a young person arrested for bringing a weapon to school and members of the Guardians Association, a fraternal organization of black officer in law enforcement, which essentially represent the community but serve to help the youngster process why he or she brought the weapon to school in the first place and what the risks and consequences could have resulted from these actions.
Restorative Justice gives voice to victims, holds offenders accountable and restores a sense of community. For more information call (914) 963-6500 ext 254.
Lemon Law Arbitration: Consumers who think their car purchase may be a “lemon” can request Lemon Law Arbitration via the Attorney General’s office. If a car does not conform to the terms of the warranty and the manufacturer or its authorized dealer is unable to repair the car after a reasonable number of attempts during the first 18,000 miles or two years (whichever comes first), the owner may be entitled to a full refund or a comparable replacement car. For more information go to http://www.ag.ny.gov/
Eviction Prevention Our Eviction Prevention Program is designed to assist individuals and families that are capable of capturing future rents but who have fallen behind and are at risk for homelessness. Our coordinators work with the Department of Social Services and collaborating community-based organizations to provide one-time financial assistance and guidance in order to help these individuals and families preserve their homes. The long-term impact of homelessness on children, in particular, has been well documented and stabilizing families and helping them preserve their homes are key components in support of a healthy community and strong community. Landlords also reap the benefits of our services as turnover is the single most costly expense for any landlord. The Eviction Prevention program helps to maintain a stable tenant population and promotes a better relationship between landlord and tenant. At present, the Eviction Prevention program is Westchester based only. For more information contact (914) 963-6500.
- Divorce/Separation Mediation tends to be less stressful, less costly, and faster than the traditional process. With the help of an experienced mediator, couples will be informed about their options and will be supported in gaining all the information needed in order to make the best possible decisions for themselves and their families. Couples will work together with the mediator to make decisions regarding living arrangements, division of property, assets and debts, parental responsibilities and schedules, and financial support for children and/or spouse or partner as needed. Couples may also consult with legal council and other professionals at any time during the mediation process and are encouraged to do so before signing final documents. Westchester Mediation Center serves married couples, same-sex couples and domestic partners. Services are available in English, French and Spanish. Fees are on a sliding scale based on income. For more information call (914) 963-6500 ext 252 in Westchester, or (845) 512-8731 in Rockland.
- Custody/Visitation Mediation is a process that encourages parents to create a parenting plan and make decisions in the best interest of their children. Mediation provides a setting where parents can discuss holiday schedules, living arrangements, parental responsibilities and how decisions will be made moving forward. 85% of our Custody-Visitation mediations result in agreement between the parents. Cases that are referred by the Family Court and result in agreement can be submitted to the Judge to be approved as a court-ordered document in place of the Judge’s decision. Mediators provide limited legal information about what issues must be covered in an agreement for the Court, and parties may consult a lawyer before, during or after the mediation for legal information and counsel. For more information contact (914) 963-6500 ext 252 or ext 254 in Westchester, or (845) 512-8731 in Rockland.
- Elder Mediation is designed to help families facing change make difficult but important decisions. So many older adults must face challenges related to aging and complicated family dynamics. Mediation is an opportunity to have everyone’s voice at the table. This may be relevant to:
- New and different living arrangement
- Complicated relationships between adult children of aging adults
- Decisions concerning legal, financial and estate matters
- Disagreements with healthcare providers about medical treatment or quality of care
- Conflicts with friends or neighbors
- Conflicts with caregivers
Mediation can help bring clarity to a situation that often produces anxiety and continued family strife. It is a process rooted in respect for older adults and their families and has many important benefits, such as increasing the role of the older adult in decisions that impact him/her, helping all family members express their emotions and concerns, and building a more collaborative relationship between family members and/or with healthcare professionals. For more information call (914) 963-6500 ext 206 in Westchester, or (845) 512-8731 in Rockland.
- Parent/Teen Mediation helps parents or guardians and their children resolve difficulties and build greater understanding between one another. It is a process that allows those at the table to discuss their differences and express openly their needs and interests. Parent/Teen Mediation may continue over the period of four sessions with a specially trained mediator. This is not counseling, but rather, an opportunity for young people and their parents or guardians to build agreements that are mutually acceptable and sustainable. Topics that are frequently covered include:
- Sibling Relationships
- Visitation with Non-Custodial Parents
Anyone may contact our office to request mediation directly or to make a referral. Mediations are based on a sliding scale and the ability of the parties to pay. For more information, call (914)963-6500 ext. 254 in Westchester, or (845) 512-8730 in Rockland.
Our mediators can be sent to places of business to mediate disputes between coworkers, managers and employees, and even between clients and service providers. An opportunity for both sides to vent their frustrations and hear more clearly the other’s perspective often leads to a better working relationship and the prevention of future conflicts in the workplace. These mediation sessions can also be held at one of our locations.
For a more sustaining change to the working environment and corporate culture, check out more information about training in the corporate sector.
Our Peer Mediation Programs have been in operation for over 15 years and have grown from involving just part-time coordinators in four local high schools to becoming a well established resource for school districts county-wide. We have on-site coordinators in eleven middle and high schools throughout Westchester County. Students are trained to assist their peers when a conflict arises and on average, a peer mediation program may address as many as 25 -35 cases a month. More importantly, the program supports the development of leadership skills and a collaborative community. Students may be referred into the program by school staff or administration. Students may also self-refer into mediation and often do so.
In addition to our Peer Mediation Programs, we provide a broad range of student and teacher training programs in Conflict Resolution, Restorative Practice and Collaborative Negotiation.
Conflict Resolution Training helps everyone in the school community see conflict not only as a destructive force but also as an opportunity for growth. In a world so fraught with conflict, it is essential that students learn to understand conflict and develop tools to manage it.
Restorative Practice Training focuses on helping teachers build a more collaborative community with their students, enriching the learning environment with a sense of safety and support.
Collaborative Negotiation Training teaches students how to negotiate effectively and to understand the need for mutual respect as the lynchpin for sustainable agreements.
Our School-Based Programs provide the opportunity for students and staff to:
- address conflict in a collaborative manner
- create a stronger sense of community
- improve the learning environment
- reduce the need for schools to rely on zero tolerance strategies
Our School-Based Programs reduce the likelihood of student violence, suspensions and incarceration.
For more information, call (914) 963-6500, ext. 202 in Westchester, or (845) 512-8731 in Rockland.