Permanency Planning Mediation Program

To provide a collaborative, problem-solving process for a case involving a juvenile adjudicated to be abused, neglected, or dependent.

Permanency planning mediation is a guided conversation that allows for those involved in a case to address communication and relationship issues impeding progress. Additionally, mediation seeks to help parties collaboratively address problems the court may not have time to explore.


In permanency planning mediation, a trained professional mediator helps parties speak honestly about complicated situations. Time can be saved by coming together outside of court to discuss viable options.

Some of the goals of permanency mediation are to:

  • Facilitate the productive exchange of information between the parties.
  • Search for a co-operative resolution of the referred issues.
  • Expedite the permanent placement of children within the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) guidelines.
  • Reduce the number and length of court hearings.
  • Reduce the return to court and delays caused by appeals.

The Permanency Planning Mediation Program will be implemented in phases in local court districts and requests will be fulfilled based on the availability of mediators.

Eligible Issues for Permanency Mediation

The court may order parties to participate in permanency planning mediation from the permanency planning stage forward.

Visitation issues may be referred to mediation prior to the entry of a permanent order or upon a motion for review where the court has retained jurisdiction.

Other permanency issues such as case planning, modifications of case plans, communication, permanent placement, voluntary relinquishment, and any other issues that may facilitate permanence for a child may be ordered to Permanency Mediation.

    The Process

    Participants in the mediation shall include the parties and their attorneys, including the guardian ad litem and attorney advocate for the child. Others may participate by agreement of the parties, their attorneys, and the mediator, or by order of the court.

    Local Administration

    The referring judge will complete AOC-J-135 or provide an order informing the mediator of the issues for mediation as well as the names and contact information of all the parties ordered to attend.

    The local custody mediation office will then send the form to the NCAOC Permanency Mediation Office for assignment of trained mediators. If the local custody mediation office does not have the administrative support required to assist with appointment setting and the attending paperwork, the referring judge will assign a staff member or party to the action to assist and coordinate these duties with the NCAOC Permanency Mediation Office.

    Any stakeholder can ask the judge to order the case to permanency planning mediation. Once the form or an order is complete, it could take 2-4 weeks to assign a mediator and select a date when all parties ordered to attend can attend.

    Mediation shall include the following steps

    • Referral, mediator assignment, appointment setting
    • Intake and assessment
    • Orientation of the parties to mediation
    • Issues to be discussed
    • Caucus sessions as appropriate
    • Written agreement and/or termination of the mediation

    The mediations will be held remotely via video web conferencing.


    Do you have a question or concern? Email the Permanency Planning Mediation Program


    (919) 890-1368