ADR-Link is funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) and housed at the London Family Court Clinic. There are four prescribed methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) available through ADR-Link:
ADR-Link connects families involved in child protection matters with Children’s Aid Societies to ADR-Link Practitioners in the South Region of Ontario. To qualify for the MCCSS funding available through ADR-Link, there must be a clear decision that a court intervention is being considered, is pending or is in progress. When a child protection case does meet this criteria, the CAS or the Indigenous community that the child is affiliated with makes a referral with the family’s consent to ADR-Link. ADR-Link then matches the referral with a qualified professional within the South West Region of Ontario. To fulfill the role of broker, ADR-Link maintains a roster of qualified ADR Professionals. These Practitioners are qualified through the George Hull Centre, Ontario Association of Family Mediation or qualified as an Indigenous Approaches/ODR Practitioner.
According to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services Policy Directive CW 005-06:
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a strategy to streamline court processes and encourage alternatives to court. It focuses on a more strengths-based, inclusive and collaborative approach to resolving child protection disputes, and encourages the involvement and support of the family, extended family, and the community in planning and decision-making for children.
The Child and Family Services Act (CFSA), as amended by Bill 210 identified the following occasions where a prescribed method of ADR must be considered and/or may be used pursuant to the following provisions of the CFSA:
- If a child is or may be in need of protection, a children’s aid society must consider whether a prescribed method of ADR could assist in resolving any issue related to the child or a plan for the child’s care (section 20.2(1)).
- The court, at any time during a proceeding, and with the consent of the parties, may adjourn the proceeding to permit the parties to utilize a prescribed method of ADR to attempt to resolve the issues in dispute (section 51.1).
- On applications to vary or terminate an openness order before or after an adoption, the court may, with the consent of the parties, adjourn the proceeding to permit the parties to utilize a prescribed method of ADR to attempt to resolve any disputes related to the proceeding (sections 145.2(7) and 153.1(10)).