Every year, 25,000 children in Norway experience their parents divorcing. And although many breakups are amicable, a lot end up in conflict, something which puts enormous strain on the children. Therefore, mediation is vital in reducing that strain, because even though couples fall apart, parenthood continues.
More diverse user-groups triggered an improved service
Due to earlier surveys on family counselling, Bufdir (The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs) wanted to pursue opportunities for innovation and improvement. Findings concluded that there were geographical and professional differences among Norwegian mediation services and that family counselling tasks had increased in complexity as a result of more diverse user groups. Therefore, the goal has been to create an improved mediation service – one that’s more user-centred and dependable.
Upgrading by applying service design methods
By applying service design methods such as user involvement and co-creation with representatives from Bufdir, EGGS helped emphasise areas of improvement. These included increasing the expertise and competency in service design within Bufdir by highlighting how it can be used in multiple ways to upgrade Bufdir’s services.
Within a couple of weeks, EGGS got to the core of what mediation is all about and what’s important for children and their parents. This is a field of expertise that psychologists and therapists work with throughout a lifetime and which EGGS grasped the essence of very quickly.Wenche Mobråten, Director, Bufdir
Getting to know users’ actual needs
We conducted a series of interviews with parents and children throughout the various stages of mediation, interviews with family counselling mediators, observation of parental mediation, and other miscellaneous sources. Each of these proved to be highly informative regarding having empathy and a profound understanding of users’ needs, and their experiences of mediation services.
Modules catering for tailored mediation
Most importantly we learned that different parents have different needs, so together with Bufdir we designed a modular based service, making it easy to tailor mediation for different family situations. The service is divided into two different mediation paths that parents can follow depending on their level of conflict.
The first path is straight forward mediation for parents with a low level of conflict, and where couples manage to communicate to find a solution. The second path is for parents with higher degrees of conflict, making communication and collaboration more challenging.
I’m delighted with the results. The entire process has been very inspiring.Wenche Mobråten, Director, Bufdir
What is mediation?
Mediation Service is a statutory public service in Norway for divorcing parents with children under 16. It was established to ensure that the needs of children were met during and after a divorce and is offered at 49 regional family counselling centres throughout Norway. Mediation is a process, so the agreement must be revised and adjusted to grow with the child and to any changes in family situations.
Major digitalisation plan for the directorate
All projects received top-level support at Bufdir and are part of a major on-going digitalisation plan for the directorate. The entire process is a co-creation between the directorate, mediators, child-welfare officers, staff and end-users. This has led to a changing of mindsets and what best to focus on for users, as well as a re-direction of human resources to those who need them most.
EGGS carried out the service design of Mediation Service, as well as the design of the digital concepts while Making Waves is responsible for implementing the digital tool that’ll support parents throughout the mediation process. The tool is expected to be launched in 2019.
An award-winning service design
Mediation Service was recognised for its potential to help limit distress for children and parents during divorce.
The new mediation service by Bufdir is a great project! It is not that couples go through a divorce knowing how to proceed with the divorce without causing stress and sorrow for their children. The fact that Bufdir offers a differentiated mediation course can potentially save both parents and children from lasting wounds. The process has been comprehensive, both concerning the training of employees and course holders and the specific solution the families will use.DOGA Award's jury
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