43-247.03. Facilitated conferencing or mediation; confidential; privileged communications.

(1) In any juvenile case, the court may provide the parties the opportunity to address issues involving the child's care and placement, services to the family, restorative justice, and other concerns through facilitated conferencing or mediation. Facilitated conferencing may include, but is not limited to, prehearing conferences, family group conferences, expedited family group conferences, child welfare mediation, permanency prehearing conferences, termination of parental rights prehearing conferences, and juvenile victim-offender dialogue. Funding and management for such services will be part of the office of the State Court Administrator. All discussions taking place during such facilitated conferences, including plea negotiations, shall be considered confidential and privileged communications, except communications required by mandatory reporting under section 28-711 for new allegations of child abuse or neglect which were not previously known or reported.

(2) For purposes of this section:

(a) Expedited family group conference means an expedited and limited-scope facilitated planning meeting which engages a child's or juvenile's parents, the child or juvenile when appropriate, other critical family members, services providers, and staff members from either the Department of Health and Human Services or the Office of Probation Administration to address immediate placement issues for the child or juvenile;

(b) Family group conference means a facilitated meeting involving a child's or juvenile's family, the child or juvenile when appropriate, available extended family members from across the United States, other significant and close persons to the family, service providers, and staff members from either the Department of Health and Human Services or the Office of Probation Administration to develop a family-centered plan for the best interests of the child and to address the essential issues of safety, permanency, and well-being of the child;

(c) Juvenile victim-offender dialogue means a court-connected process in which a facilitator meets with the juvenile offender and the victim in an effort to convene a dialogue in which the offender takes responsibility for his or her actions and the victim is able to address the offender and request an apology and restitution, with the goal of creating an agreed-upon written plan; and

(d) Prehearing conference means a facilitated meeting prior to appearing in court and held to gain the cooperation of the parties, to offer services and treatment, and to develop a problem-solving atmosphere in the best interests of children involved in the juvenile court system. A prehearing conference may be scheduled at any time during the child welfare or juvenile court process, from initial removal through permanency, termination of parental rights, and juvenile delinquency court processes.

Source:Laws 2008, LB1014, § 38; R.S.1943, (2008), § 43-247.01; Laws 2014, LB464, § 10.