2019 Legislative Request
Resolution Washington is a network of nonprofit Dispute Resolution Centers (DRCs) that leverage a comparatively tiny portion of the state budget and significant volunteer resources to deliver cost-effective conflict resolution services across the entire state. Each year, we serve over 84,000 adults and 19,000 youth in local communities.
Demand for our services continues to grow. Yet, the financial support we receive through court filing fee funding, as designated by the state Legislature in 1990, continues to erode.
Historical Commitment with the State
It is the role of the Legislature to “stimulate the establishment and use of dispute resolution centers to help meet the need for alternatives to the courts for the resolution of certain disputes” (RCW 7.75.010 (2)(a)).
The state Legislature established a framework for DRCs in 1984 to provide a high-quality resolution alternative for many types of disputes. DRCs “meet the needs of Washington’s citizens by providing forums in which persons may voluntarily participate in the resolution of disputes” (RCW 7.75).
Through this statute, DRCs provide mediation, mediator training & certification, and public education. DRCs provide relief to Courts throughout the state by mediating disputes where the participants can settle, reducing docket sizes and wait times while allowing the Courts to focus on those cases requiring their attention.
Through other funding sources, DRCs also provide additional services. We tailor our programs to meet the needs of the local communities, including restorative practices work with schools, at-risk youth programming, homelessness prevention, collaborations with tribes, and community facilitation.
Resolution Washington member DRCs currently serve the entire state. Several of our DRCs are on the brink of survival, struggling financially despite provision of valuable service to courts, public institutions and communities. They have managed to survive thus far only due to the heroic dedication of their very limited staff and committed volunteers, but they cannot meet the full mandate in this manner.
Without increased financial support those struggling DRCs will be forced to reduce public access to these resources set by statute. That would prevent DRCs from meeting the full breadth of current and future needs for the state and local communities.
We are asking the Washington State Legislature to help us in three ways:
Provide budget support of $6 million per biennium to be distributed among the 21 DRCs across the state.
Endorse the role of DRCs to assist with state priorities around issues such as homelessness, child welfare, behavioral health, school communities, and juvenile justice initiatives through agency projects.
Integrate dispute resolution within state agency policy and practices.
The best solutions emerge when people listen to diverse viewpoints, work together, and make decisions for the common good.
In 1997, 18 DRCs reported that they collected $1,044,858 in court filing fee revenue from counties throughout the state. In 2017, 21 centers reported $735,840 from this revenue stream. In 1997 dollars, the 2017 revenue is equivalent to $465,990. DRCs are now receiving 55 percent less revenue in than they did in 1997, adjusted for inflation. Even without adjusting for inflation, fee revenue is down 30 percent. One of the key funding supports for DRCs to meet their Legislative mandate has been shrinking steadily over the past 20 years.
The Work of Resolution Washington
We empower people across sectors for effective, long-term solutions.
Conflict occurs at every level of society, and it can either strengthen or destroy relationships. Our 21 member DRCs across the state equip individuals, groups and organizations to manage conflict, improve relationships and support a culture of understanding and effective problem-solving.
All our member DRCs provide these core services:
- Mediator training & certification
- Public education
Our DRCs also tailor services to meet local needs through a variety of programs including:
- Restorative practices
- Family and elder services
- School collaborations
- Conflict coaching
Because we are embedded in communities across the state, our work reflects local needs. We bring together people with diverse viewpoints and interests to address issues like:
- Environmental issues
- At-risk youth and families
- Community and planning disputes
We convene communities to resolve our most difficult issues.
We bring together people with diverse viewpoints and interests to solve problems like homelessness, reentry, and more. Because we are embedded in communities across the state, our work reflects local needs.
The following are a few highlights of solutions we helped facilitate in the communities we serve:
Center of Dialog & Resolution (Pierce County)
The key skills of impartiality and self-determination have been used to train front line workers to help those experiencing homelessness make their own housing plan. This work in Pierce County has reduced the number of new people entering homelessness services by 20 percent. This training model has become nationally recognized and is now being used in communities in Indiana, Nebraska, and Georgia.
Six Rivers DRC (Klickitat & Skamania Counties)
Agricultural maintenance of orchards and vineyards impacted air quality with seasonal burn piles. Six Rivers DRC facilitated important dialog between affected parties, land managers, and city government to ensure public health standards were met
Alternatives to juvenile detention
DRC of Grays Harbor & Pacific Counties
Looking to create alternatives to juvenile detention, DRC of Grays Harbor & Pacific Counties (in partnership with Juvenile Courts) offers the We’re In This Together Program, a community-based program for youth and adults aimed at restoring relationships and connecting families to local resources. The program served over 40 court-involved or at-risk teens and their families in 2018, including 21 percent Native American and 7 percent Latinx families.
At-risk youth homelessness intervention
Conflict in the home is the leading cause of homelessness for at-risk youth. To address this issue, the Whatcom DRC created a parent/teen mediation program, now partly funded by the City of Bellingham, to address family conflict. In the last year alone 63 family members, including 28 youth, participated, and 94 percent of respondents reported reaching agreement.
We provide a framework for more cooperative communities.
Our present level of civil discourse is not so civil. The public rhetoric is filled with blame and “us versus them” sentiment. In the state of Washington, we have an opportunity to step forward and offer a vision of what cooperation and collaboration could look like. Resolution Washington is doing this work at the local level through our community-based DRCs and is available to collaborate on these issues at the state level.
With the investment of the state Legislature, we can continue to lay the foundation of conflict resolution and civil discourse that our communities, state and nation so desperately need right now.