The state’s dispute resolution agency, the Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration (MOPC), and its 12 local Community Mediation Center partners (CMCs) last month celebrated six years of consistent legislative support for their state-sponsored grant program established to promote the use of mediation and create broad access to these services for all citizens of the commonwealth.
“This is a unique program that uses an investment from the state to ensure that core center operations can leverage an army of volunteers whose programs, training, and a wide range of conflict services allow cities and towns and their citizens to save many times that investment,” said David Cash, dean of the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where MOPC is housed.
In fiscal year 2017, the CMCs received $600,000 collectively to support their network of 500 well-trained and committed volunteers, who handled over 4,300 court-referred and community-based mediation cases for primarily low-income citizens. During the year, the network created an estimated $12 million annual return on investment in cost savings and resources, according to MOPC’s FY2017 Year End Program Evaluation Report. The report highlighted the continued need for increased funding to stabilize and grow the services provided to meet local community needs, thus maximizing return on investment and building new opportunities for funding.
Since 2012, the statutory CMC Grant Program administered by MOPC has earned substantial bi-partisan legislative support in both the House and Senate, championed in the first five years by the program’s original leads, Senator Benjamin Downing and Representative Sarah Peake. This year Senator Adam Hinds and Representative Paul Tucker have taken over as legislative leads and both participated in a recent State House briefing.
“Centers work, with very limited budgets and staffing, to develop and grow the services they offer to make sure they are meeting the particular challenges of the day,” said MOPC Executive Director Susan Jeghelian.
She explained that two areas of growth emerged with the introduction of restorative practices in schools to reduce costs around truancy and suspensions and to improve school climate as well as a pilot program to provide pre-release prisoners with services to build supportive relationships and plans with people on the outside to significantly reduce recidivism. Other areas of services offered by the CMCs include mediation of consumer, neighborhood, family, divorce, school, housing, work-place, minor criminal, harassment prevention and juvenile diversion cases, facilitation, conflict coaching and conflict management training.
The CMCs and MOPC celebrated the significant support of the legislature on January 23, aiming to further grow support on Beacon Hill by demonstrating the value of this effective evidence-based program and the cost benefits it brings to state government and communities across the commonwealth.
For more information about the CMC Grant Program and the CMCs it supports, visit the center's website.
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