Moving meditation forward: Grants help services expand in Michigan


by Dr. Jane Millar   |   Michigan Bar Journal


There are 17 citizen dispute resolution program (CDRP) centers in the state of Michigan. They are non-profit organizations partially funded by the Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) and hence, are accountable to the SCAO.

The centers offer mediation and restorative practice services to Michigan residents and rely on volunteer mediators trained in the use of the facilitative model of mediation to guarantee that they remain neutral; all participants’ voices are heard; the disputing parties are the ones making the agreement, not the mediators; and that confidentiality is ensured. CDRP mediators are required to complete 40 hours of SCAO-approved general civil training or 48 hours of SCAO-approved domestic training, have practical experience supervised by seasoned mediators, and participate in continuing education.1

“Our mediators are highly skilled and trained on how to best serve their community members facing conflict in a respectful, professional manner,” said Shannon Taylor, executive director of Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress conflict resolution program and the Michigan Community Mediation Association (MCMA) training committee chair.2

CDRP volunteer mediators will be instrumental in implementing two new, grant-funded programs available to Michigan residents: the Michigan Agricultural Mediation Program (MAMP) and the Michigan Behavioral Health Mediation Services (MBHMS) program; both require specialized training beyond the basic training discussed above. The MAMP requires an additional 20 hours3 while the MBHMS requires an additional eight hours.4

The MAMP grant was awarded to the MCMA by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). MCMA is a professional organization made up of the 17 CDRP centers in the state. Its mission is to help advocate for the CDRP centers and educate Michigan residents on the importance of mediation and restorative practices.

MAMP offers free mediation services to Michigan farmers to help them resolve disputes outside of court. Disputes covered by this grant can include contract issues, estate and probate complications, adverse determinations by the USDA, bankruptcy, and any other conflicts they may face.5

“Our association is honored to have been awarded this grant to provide a vital alternative to resolving disputes for our farmers,” said former MCMA Executive Director Gabriella Reihanian Havlicek in a prepared statement.6

The executive directors of the 17 CDRP centers and their staffs, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, industry stakeholders, and local leaders are working diligently to inform the state’s farmers about this golden opportunity by making presentations at service clubs, going to farmers’ markets, and generally doing whatever it takes to get the word out.

“Michigan’s farmers work to feed our communities and families 24- 7, 365 days a year, and mediation provides an avenue for them to be an integral part of the conflict resolution process,” Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Gary McDowell said in a press release. “MDARD is proud to support MCMA [and] I encourage farmers to look into mediation as a viable option for resolving conflict.”7

“Farmers already have heavy issues to navigate on a daily basis whether it’s a supply chain shortage, finding workers, or navigating continually changing weather conditions,” said Michigan Potato Industry Commission CEO Kelly Turner in a statement. “What they don’t need is to have extra legal issues hanging over their head for years to come. Now they can contact MCMA and request a free mediation to resolve any dispute they may be facing.”8

Buddy Sebastian, president of the Michigan Ground Water Association, echoed Turner’s sentiments. “We at the Michigan Ground Water Association are excited to be partnering with MCMA and the 17 community dispute resolution program mediation centers,” Sebastian said in a release. “The services they provide to our residents — and now our farmers — allow Michiganders the opportunity to resolve disputes in a free and faster way.”9

Farmers who wish to request mediation can contact the Michigan Community Mediation Association at www.micommunitymediation.org via email at micommunitymediationassoc@gmail.com, or by calling (800) 616-7863.

The second community mediation grant was presented by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to the Michigan Behavioral Health Mediation Services (MBHMS) program. Specifically, MDHHS awarded the grant to the Oakland Mediation Center as part of an effort to develop and implement a statewide system of local mediation services to resolve disputes related to behavioral health services provided by community mental health services programs (CMHSP) and their contract providers.10

“We are honored to have been awarded this grant to provide a vital alternative to resolving service disputes for behavioral health service complaints,” Charity Burke, executive director of the Oakland Mediation Center, said in a statement. “We will be working with our counterparts across the state, MDHHS, and local officials to ensure this program is offered to people that need their voices heard and conflicts resolved.”11

Two MDHHS departments — the Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Administration and the Office of Recipient Rights — partnered with community and advocacy groups to ensure that all people receiving publicly funded behavioral health services in Michigan have access to an independent mediation process to resolve concerns about their services and treatment.12 Michigan’s community mental health services programs are used by more than 230,000 Michigan residents, and the CMHSP customer services and recipient rights departments receive a variety of inquiries related to treatment planning and behavioral health opportunities.13

Using mediation as a first step in the dispute resolution process fosters better treatment relationships and provides for a timelier agreement on what supports and services will be provided by the responsible mental health agency.

“The use of mediation has a proven record of successful outcomes in resolving disputes and allows the patient to be an active participant,” MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said in a press release. “It is exciting that we are able to provide mediation services to resolve complex behavioral health treatment needs in a meaningful way by bringing all parties to the table.”14

For more information on the Michigan Behavioral Health Mediation Services program, call (844) 3-MEDIATE or email them at behavioralhealth@mediaton-omc.org.



1. CDRP Policies and Procedures Manual, Office of Dispute Resolution, SCAO (2022), available at [https://perma.cc/AK8A-ADPV]. All websites cited in this article were accessed June 22, 2022.

2. Michigan Community Mediation Association Launches Michigan Agricultural Me­diation Program, Mich Dep’t of Agriculture & Rural Development (October 18, 2021) [https://perma.cc/C767-R55X].

3. Learning to be a Mediator, Community Mediation Services (2020) [https://perma.cc/LS6D-WKD4].

4. FAQ, Michigan Behavioral Health Mediation Services, [https://perma.cc/UTE8-SHA3].

5. Michigan Community Mediation Association Launches Michigan Agricultural Mediation Program.

6. Id.

7. Id.

8. Id.

9. Id.

10. MDHHS awards grant to develop and implement statewide system of behav­ioral health mediation service, Mich Dep’t of Health & Human Services (April 28, 2021), available at [https://perma.cc/4N2M-N5TD].

11. Id.

12. Id.

13. Id.

14. Id.