Our Services

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Community Mediation

MCRC offers community mediation services to those who live and/or work in the Howard County community. We have a volunteer-based co-mediation model that provides the highest quality of mediation. Every volunteer mediator is trained in a 40-hour mediation class before being able to mediate. All mediators with MCRC are expected to maintain membership with the Maryland Program for Mediator Excellence (MPME) through The Maryland Judiciary Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office (MACRO) and attend continuing education throughout the year. Community mediation is a neutral, voluntary, and confidential process. The process offers participants the unique opportunity to discuss important topics, make informed decisions, and reach agreements through a greater understanding of each other and the conflict. These services assist with disputes, such as neighborhood, family, landlord/tenant, workplace, parent-teen, and other interpersonal conflicts.

10 Points of Community Mediation

Mediation helps people reach agreements, rebuild relationships, and resolve their disputes permanently. Mediation is a process that lets people speak for themselves and make their own decisions. Community mediation provides a non-profit framework for assuring access to mediation services at the community level with control and responsibility for dispute resolution maintained in the community. Community mediation strives to:

  1. Train community members who reflect the community’s diversity with regard to age, race, gender, ethnicity, income, and education to serve as volunteer mediators
  2. Provide mediation services at no cost or on a sliding scale.
  3. Hold mediations in neighborhoods where disputes occur.
  4. Schedule mediations at a time and place convenient for the participants.
  5. Encourage early mediation to prevent violence, reduce the need for court intervention, and provide mediation at any stage in a dispute.
  6. Mediate community-based disputes from referral sources, including self-referrals, police, courts, community organizations, civic groups, religious institutions, and government agencies.
  7. Educate community members about conflict resolution and mediation.
  8. Maintain high-quality mediators by providing intensive, skills-based training, apprenticeships, continuing education, and ongoing evaluation of volunteer mediators.
  9. Work with the community to govern community mediation programs based on collaborative problem-solving among staff, volunteers, and community members.
  10. Provide mediation, education, and potentially other conflict resolution processes to community members who reflect the community’s diversity with regard to age, race, gender, culture, ethnicity, income, education, and geographical location.

Family Mediation

Co-Parenting Plan Mediation services bring separated parents together to craft a mutually agreeable co-parenting plan to support their minor children. Read more about co-parenting plan mediation services. »

Individualized Education Program (IEP) Facilitation with HCPSS

What is a Facilitated IEP Meeting?
Facilitated IEP meetings offer families and school staff an additional option to promote positive communication and collaboration at IEP team meetings. A facilitated IEP meeting can:

  • Assure meaningful involvement of all participants in the IEP team process.
  • Ensure the focus remains on the student.
  • Be helpful when a substantial amount of new information is reviewed at an IEP meeting.
  • It can be helpful at any stage in the IEP team process and may be particularly helpful when the discussion at an IEP team meeting is challenging.
  • Support team members in developing and maintaining collaborative relationships.
  • Assist in fostering a meeting outcome based on consensus.
  • Minimize the need for more formal means of resolving disagreements.

Who is an IEP Meeting Facilitator?
An IEP meeting facilitator comes from an independent mediation agency and is trained in fostering positive communication. They treat the school and parent/guardian equally. Before the IEP meeting, the facilitator talks to the parents/guardians and the IEP chairperson to support the agenda. The facilitator ensures that all team members have an opportunity to be heard. IEP facilitators do not serve as advocates and are not school system employees. They volunteer their service and remain independent and impartial.

Steps for Requesting a Facilitated IEP Meeting
Facilitated IEP meetings are voluntary; both parties must agree to participate. A parent/guardian or school personnel can request a facilitated IEP meeting through the Family Support and Resource Center, email us, or call 410-313-7161. The request must be made ten days before the meeting.

A facilitator is assigned once the request is made and the parent/guardian completes a release of information form. The facilitator will contact the parent/guardian and the school before the meeting. There is no cost for facilitated IEP meetings.

For questions about facilitated IEP meetings, please contact MCRC via email at 443-518-7693 or the Family Support and Resource Center at 410-313-7161.

221109 IEP Facilitation Video_03_BF from Lynn Hughes on Vimeo.

IEP Facilitation

Re-Entry Mediation

Re-Entry Mediation is a service MCRC provides through a strong and healthy partnership with Howard County Detention Center (HCDC) in Jessup, MD. With the assistance of two professionally trained volunteer mediators, this specific process allows insiders to have a face-to-face guided conversation with outside participants who they may feel are important to their success as members of the community. Re-entry mediation sessions are held at HCDC, and all participants and mediators must abide by HCDC rules and regulations while on HCDC premises.

Participation in re-entry mediation is neutral, confidential, and voluntary. Inmates who elect to mediate are encouraged to use the session to make plans to support their return to the community upon release. The participants can create action plans focusing on essential topics such as employment, living arrangements, school, and relationships.

Research shows that re-entry mediation reduces recidivism by 10% for one session and 7% for each additional session. The program is available in all Maryland state prisons and 11 local detention centers. The Maryland program is considered a national model, and attempts to replicate it are currently underway in three other states.

Conflict Management Education & Training

MCRC, Inc. provides education and training to people within the community of Howard County through Conflict Workshops. Staff and volunteers collaborate to provide quality Conflict Workshops for companies and organizations. In the past, Conflict Workshops have been facilitated at community centers, and schools. Depending on time allowance and other variables, topics may include subjects such as Conflict Awareness, Managing Conflict, and other Approaches to Conflict.

Should you wish to schedule a Conflict Workshop with MCRC, the process is straightforward. Simply contact us directly at (443)518-7693 or email info@mcrchoward.org for more information. We are here to assist you every step of the way.

Group Facilitation

MCRC offers group facilitation, which helps guide positive conversations among groups within the community, organizations, and businesses. Group Facilitation may or may not necessarily be requested for a specific conflict. Still, it provides structure and helps groups in the community focus on their intended purpose of getting together to discuss matters they feel are essential.

MCRC utilizes professionally trained volunteers throughout Howard County who are experienced in effective communication. Group facilitation provides an opportunity to build a strong, vibrant, and safe community.

Restorative Practices

Restorative Justice is a term that encompasses any form of criminal justice that focuses on the rehabilitation of the offender through reconciliation with the community and/or victim(s). MCRC’s primary form of restorative justice is through the Restorative Practices Program, and is offered as a Restorative Reflection or a Restorative Dialogue. These processes allow a youth or youth participants an opportunity to reflect on their behavior(s) and action(s) in a structured conversation. Upon referral from one of our referring partners, MCRC conducts intake and screens the participants (the youth and parent(s) or guardian(s)), then sets up a session with two professionally trained volunteer facilitators. During the scheduled session, the youth reflects on the situation by answering Restorative Questions. In most cases, participants in Restorative Reflections and Restorative Dialogues leave the session with a greater understanding of the behavior(s) and action(s), themselves, and how these behaviors and actions affect others. Eighty-eight percent of participants agree that a session is invaluable.

MCRC’s Restorative Practices Services are selected by referral partners. These partners currently include the Department of Juvenile Services, the State Attorney’s Office, the Howard County Police Department’s Youth Services, and the Howard County Public School System. Depending upon the specific details concerning a case, MCRC may also provide our mediation services for these partners. For more information, see Re-entry Mediation and Parent-Teen Mediation services. MCRC’s Youth Restorative Practices Services currently include Restorative Reflections and Restorative Dialogues. MCRC also provides School-Circles, which are detailed on the School-Based Conflict Resolution page.

Restorative Reflection: A restorative reflection (RR) is a neutral, confidential, and voluntary process. It is an opportunity for a youth participant to be part of a guided discussion with two professionally trained volunteer restorative practices facilitators and their parent(s) or guardian(s). The conversation focuses on reflecting back to a behavior and/or actions that led to their referral to MCRC for Restorative services. The facilitators do not take sides, blame, or place punishment. They help guide a conversation which addresses the five Restorative Questions listed below. RRs are scheduled for a two-hour time-frame and are scheduled seven days a week, morning, afternoon, or evening.

Restorative Dialogue: A restorative dialogue (RD) is a neutral, confidential, voluntary process. It is an opportunity for more than one youth participants to be part of a guided discussion with two professionally trained volunteer restorative practices facilitators and both of the youths’ parent(s) and/or guardian(s). The dialogue among the youths and other participants focuses on reflecting back to the behaviors and actions of both of youths which led to the referral to MCRC for Restorative services. The facilitators do not take sides, blame, or place punishment. They help guide a conversation which addresses the five Restorative Questions, as well as additional victim/offender questions listed below (if applicable). RDs are scheduled for a two-hour time-frame and are scheduled seven days a week, morning, afternoon, or evening.

Five Restorative Questions

  1. What happened?
  2. What were you thinking at the time?
  3. What have you thought about since?
  4. Who has been affected by what has been done?
  5. What do you need to do to make things right?

Additional Restorative Questions for Victim/Offender in RDs

  1. What did you think when you realized what had happened?
  2. What impact has this incident had on you and others?
  3. What has been the hardest thing for you?
  4. What do you think needs to happen to make things right?

MCRC, Inc. has a strong commitment to providing services for youth that encourage thoughtful consideration and accountability around their involvement in violations of codes of conduct and laws. Traditional methods of handling such violations include involvement with the courts and a juvenile record that may negatively effect a youth’s opportunities for employment and higher education opportunities.

Allowing first-time juvenile offenders of low level crimes an opportunity to reflect upon and be accountable for such incidents rather than being led down the more formal trajectory of the juvenile justice system means fewer youth entering the school-to-prison pipeline as illustrated in the infographic.