Program Offers Free Parent Mediation

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A program to help ease the stress of separated parenting is being offered again for free. 

Washington County's visitation mediation program aims to help parents and their children come together to resolve disputes.
Barb Tergolina, the director of the Washington County Child Support Enforcement Agency, says the program helps parents who don't live together in cases where one parent may not be able to see the child.
She says the benefit of the program is that the judge won't make a decision – the parents will do it for themselves.
"This affords them the ability to not have to go and hire an attorney or go to court in front of a judge, where they can make decisions themselves with the help of a mediator to help resolve their conflicts as they talk and negotiate things," said Tergolina.
The program was made available for free April 5 and since then Tergolina says about 10 families have participated. 
"Not all counties [in Southeast Ohio] have visitation programs.  There are some fatherhood groups, and other private industries that offer visitation/mediation programs, but not necessarily through the Child Support Enforcement Agency or the Department of Job and Family Services," says Tergolina.
Washington County Department Job and Family Services provided a grant for $14,000 that will last through September.
Tergolina says program officials are in the process of applying for another grant in case the department doesn't get funding again.