About Good Shepherd Mediation Program

The Good Shepherd Mediation Program, established in 1984, is a neighborhood justice center located in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. People in conflict come to the Mediation Program to resolve their disputes through mediation.

Our mission is to empower Philadelphia community residents to creatively search for meaningful and lasting solutions to their conflicts without resorting to crime or violence.

After nearly 100 years of service to delinquent/dependent youth, Good Shepherd Corporation phased out its youth residential programs. In 1982, a needs assessment of the 14th and 35th police districts in Northwest Philadelphia was conducted to identify community concerns. It became apparent that crime and violence resulting from escalating, unresolved disputes - particularly involving youth - were the social problems about which community residents were most concerned. In 1984, Good Shepherd Neighborhood House was established as Philadelphia's first neighborhood justice center, serving the 14th and 35th police districts. Good Shepherd Mediation Program currently offers mediation, and training and consulting services to the Greater Philadelphia area.

Good Shepherd uses a voluntary mediation process designed to resolve interpersonal and community conflicts peacefully.

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What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process for resolving disputes with the help of a trained, objective third-party called a mediator. The mediator does not offer advice or make a decision for the parties. The mediator facilitates the communication session, encourages peacemaking and writes the agreement if one is reached. Eighty-five percent of the disputes that reach mediation result in a written settlement agreement between the parties.

Mediation is voluntary, informal, confidential, and inexpensive. Mediation sessions can be scheduled within a few weeks at a location in the disputant's neighborhood. Mediation is used successfully to resolve interpersonal disputes involving families, friends, neighbors, employers and employees, consumers and merchants, landlords and tenants, and others.

Programs and Services

Good Shepherd Mediation Program is a nonprofit organization that currently includes the following components: Community Mediation; Conflict Coaching; the Family Passages Initiative designed to serve families in transition (e.g., mediation and family group conferences for issues involving parents and youth; custody and divorce; partnership dissolution; and the elderly); Juvenile Justice Initiatives (e.g., diversion programs for juvenile offenders); and Training and Consulting. The training and consulting services include: mediation orientation; adult mediator training; youth peer-mediation training and school-based program implementation; conflict resolution; meeting facilitation; anger management; community peacemaking; collaboration building for community empowerment; and dealing with differences.

On the average, each year, the Mediation Program:

  • Mediates 50 community disputes with a settlement rate of 85 percent.
  • Mediates 125 custody disputes in the Custody Masters Unit of the Philadelphia Family Court.
  • Facilitates 1,200 pre-hearing conferences in the Dependency Unit of the Philadelphia Family Court.
  • Trains 50 new community mediators and 16 new divorce and custody mediators.
  • Provides advanced training for experienced mediators.
  • Offers conflict resolution, impact of auto theft and shoplifting diversion workshops to 600 juvenile offenders.
  • Provides conflict resolution and other training services to 2,000 members of the Philadelphia community.
  • Retains more than 50 volunteers, all of whom have completed a minimum of 24 hours of Basic Mediator training.
  • Offers Victim Offender Conferencing to 60 juvenile offenders and their victims.

The Mediation Program has received several honors for its work in Philadelphia:

  • 1996- 1997 - The opportunity to train volunteer adult and youth mediators and share the Community Peace and Safety Network concept in Johannesburg, Soweto, and Thokoza South Africa, in collaboration with Temple University Department of Communication Sciences, as part of a project funded by the U.S. Information Agency.
  • 1997 PA Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance "Layman Honor Award."
  • 1996 Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations "Community Service Award."
  • 1995 named in Newsweek American Achievement Award issue (May 29, 1995).
  • 1993 Philadelphia Bar Association, "Louis D. Apothaker Award."
  • 1992 Philadelphia Magazine, Best of Philly "Good Samaritan."

The Mediation Program's success is based on several factors:

  • The need for peacemaking services in the Philadelphia community.
  • A strong, dynamic Board of Directors representing a cross-section of the community, with a vision and a clear, concise mission statement.
  • An Executive Director with good administrative, supervisory, planning, grant-writing, and implementation skills.
  • A collaborative working relationship between the Executive Director and the Board of Directors, with clearly stated roles and responsibilities.
  • A pool of well-trained, dedicated volunteer mediators who support the concept and mission of the Mediation Program through their time commitment and financial support.
  • A staff of dedicated professionals with excellent mediation and training skills.
  • A commitment to the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators (developed by the Association for Conflict Resolution, the American Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, and the American Arbitration Association, adopted September 2005) and the Model Standards of Practice for Family and Divorce Mediation (developed by the Symposium on Standards of Practice, August 2000), and the court rules and statutes that apply to mediation in Pennsyvlania. 
  • A reputation in the community as a fair and objective, neutral agency with the ability to work with all aspects of the community.
  • A local community that supports and values mediation and the services offered by Good Shepherd Mediation Program.