2020 Legislative Agenda
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. In 2019 Resolution Washington directly served 58,358 residents including 3,322 youth in communities across the state, providing access to services regardless of ability to pay in accordance with RCW 7.75.
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.
Thank you to the Washington State Legislature for the $2 Million in the 2019-2021 budget to serve communities statewide through the DRCs. Resolution Washington supports our strategic partners’ initiatives during the 2020 Legislative session, including those listed to the right.
Thank you to Senator King for recognizing the value of the DRCs to our state through the leadership and adoption of Senate Resolution 8665 honoring Resolution Washington and the work of local DRCs.
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.
In 2020, Resolution Washington supports our strategic partners’ initiatives, including:
- Housing Trust Fund: Invest $10 million in the Housing Trust Fund to preserve affordable homes and prevent the displacement of people living in them (Lead: Washington Low Income Housing Alliance)
- Family Connections Program HB 2525 / SB 6422: Establish foster parent/parent/ally teams to facilitate relationship building between caregivers with whom the child is placed and the parent(s) (Lead: Partners for our Children)
- Educator Professional Training: Professional development for educators with training on racial literacy and cultural responsiveness to help close opportunity gaps for Washington students and promote diversity, equity and inclusion (Lead: Governor’s Office)
- Juvenile Records: Stop juvenile records from shaping the future of young people SB 5182 / SB 5837 (Lead: Columbia Legal Services)
Resolution Washington is committed to equal justice for all marginalized community members and supports people of color and low-income residents in having access to equitable opportunities statewide
In 1997, 18 centers reported that they collected $1,044,858 in court filing fee revenue from Counties throughout the state. In 2019, 21 centers reported $679,257 from this revenue stream. In 1997 dollars, the 2019 revenue is equivalent to $426,362. DRCs are now receiving 59 percent less revenue in than they did in 1997, adjusted for inflation. The fees are paid by local residents filing cases in Court and are highly variable by County from year to year.
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:
Facilitating Homeless Shelter Planning Community Dialogue
BELLEVUE CONFLICT RESOLUTION CENTER
The issue of homeless shelters had fractured the community. So Bellevue Conflict Resolution Center staff and volunteers facilitated small group dialogue to get input from the community for amendments to the land use code amendment governing shelters. Two new shelters are now being built reflecting the community’s needs, including on-going dialogue. Ten of the 21 DRCs provided dispute resolution or training services directly related to preventing or addressing homelessness in 2019.
Building a Restorative School Climate
DRC OF THURSTON COUNTY | OLYMPIA
“Judge and suspend” was the way conflicts had long been handled at one high school, like many others. The DRC spent two years working with the school, shifting the response from punitive to restorative, giving staff and students supportive and impactful methods to process conflict. The changes resulted in record low suspension and repeated offense rates, and an overall more peaceful school climate. In 2019, 14 DRCs addressed school discipline issues in collaboration with schools and community partners across the state.
Supporting Intercultural Family Decisions
VOLUNTEERS OF AMERICA DRC OF SNOHOMISH, ISLAND & SKAGIT COUNTIES | EVERETT
Separated immigrants struggling with cultural and legal expectations between their Mexican heritage and American home successfully navigated their values to develop a parenting plan meeting the unique needs of their family with Spanish language mediators. DRCs are committed to providing access to their services, providing Spanish language services, using interpreters, and meeting needs for cases involving domestic violence or other special considerations.
Youth Success through Restorative Juvenile Detention
DRC OF YAKIMA & KITTITAS COUNTIES | YAKIMA
Rather than stay in the system, first time offenders found jobs, stayed in school, applied for trade school grants and rented their own apartments after being engaged in the court- referred Yakima DRC pilot youth program. Restorative circles helped restore these youth, sparing them lives of shame and incarceration. DRCs directly served 3,322 youth statewide in 2019 through diversion programs, training, restorative practices, parent-teen mediation and peer mediation.
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.