Skills for Changing Families
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 Skills for Changing Families collaborative was one of them.
The purpose of the Skills for Changing Families collaborative is to improve access to justice for high conflict BC families experiencing separation or divorce by supporting them (through court direction, counselling, skills development and specialized mediation) to manage their differences without recourse to lengthy and repetitive, expensive and stress-producing court processes.
An A2JBC Skills for Changing Families Working Group developed a promising model, based on the research, the collective experience of its members and the New Ways for Families program (developed by the High Conflict Institute based in California, USA, and demonstrated to work in Medicine Hat, Alberta). The concept is to test this model in Victoria, British Columbia so that it can be scaled for use throughout the province and, in the process, to impact public policy in a way that will enhance the well-being of children. The collaborative is pursuing funding possibilities.
The initiative demonstrates what it means to be:
- collaborative, by having a steering committee and advisory group including participants from many aspects of the justice sector (judiciary, lawyers, government, non-profits), other disciplines and community-based organizations.
- user-centred, by putting children’s well-being and parental capacity building at the centre of the design of court processes dealing with high conflict families.
- experimental, by trying out an already tested model in a different setting and experimenting with how to make it sustainable and scalable.
- evidence-based, by being rooted in brain science and Adverse Childhood Experience and resilience research.
The Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) is using modern technology to make the system easier to use.
The Triple Aim, borrowed from the health care sector, is a single goal with three elements: improved experience for the users of the justice system, improved population access to justice and improved costs.
We think that A2JBC’s “wolf factor” is that we are aligning justice system stakeholders around a new approach to changing the justice system – an approach that requires a shift in justice system culture.
With an increasing number of self-represented litigants, the process needs to be simplified.
The BC Provincial Court and the website Clicklaw are collaborating to provide one-page, up-to-date summaries of the most useful online resources.