Family Justice Pathfinder
Culture shifts don’t happen easily. They are resisted for various reasons, in part because they are not “business as usual”. Resistance is overcome when people experience the shift. So, in February 2016, A2JBC decided to encourage and support, through an incubation stage, some collaborative initiatives as testing grounds and exemplars of how to be collaborative, user-centred, experimental and evidence-based.
The Family Justice Pathfinder collaborative was one of them.
The purpose of the Family Justice Pathfinder collaborative is to improve access to justice for BC families experiencing separation or divorce by connecting them with affordable services they need (legal and other) to help them identify and navigate successfully the pathway that works best for them.
In the fall of 2016, A2JBC took the lead in developing, in conjunction with others, the Pathfinder project concept and putting together a funding application to government, on behalf of 18 justice system entities (within government and external to government), all of whom agreed to provide in-kind contributions to the project. The plan was to begin with developing a prototype that worked for the Kamloops population, and based on the lessons learned, scaling out the prototype across the entire province.
While the applied-for funding was not forthcoming, the Ministry of Attorney General supported the project concept and took a lead in the first phase of the project. This involved applying a user-centred service design approach, a novelty in the family justice system.
Interviewing and working with users of the family justice system and service providers in Kamloops, the project team gathered information to understand the family justice system from the perspective of families with lived experience. The visual depiction of the family justice system that resulted appeared like a game of “Snakes and Ladders” : there were occasional ladders that helped people along the path, but they were often followed by snakes that sent them further away from getting to their desired end point.
Based on what was learned and other research, three interrelated components of the larger vision were identified:
- A “Guided Pathway” online tool to provide information to family members to increase their capacity to resolve specific issues on their own;
- An online referral tool to direct family members to the local and remote services they need; and
- A connected local service provider network to make and receive referrals, and coach and assist families along their pathways through separation and divorce.
Work is still being done on all three of these components.
The collaborative demonstrates what it means to be:
- collaborative, by creating a governance project Board with two government leaders, two non-government leaders and two individuals representing the public who have had lived experience of the family justice system.
- user-centred, by taking a user-centred, service design approach
- experimental, by identifying and experimenting with components to build towards a larger Pathfinder design.
- evidence-based, by conducting interviews and workshops with service providers and family members.
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Intractable, high conflict disputes between parents experiencing separation and divorce have devastating psychological, emotional, social, and physical effects – particularly on children.
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