The Community Relations Service classifies the assistance it provides communities into four unique services: Mediation, Facilitated Dialogues, Training and Consultation.
Mediation consists of playing a third party role in structured and formal face-to-face negotiations between community stakeholders. The mediations incorporate established and standardized methods and procedures, and are conducted by impartial conflict resolution specialists, who are trained in helping communities discuss their concerns and develop strategies to resolve their concerns. The goal of mediation is to provide community members with a framework to help them resolve understandings, establish trust and build the local capacity to prevent and respond to future conflicts. Mediation is not used to determine which side is right or wrong; rather, it is utilized to create mutually-acceptable solutions to community conflicts.
The Community Relations Service facilitates dialogues with community stakeholders in order to open lines of communication between parties. Through facilitated dialogues, different sides to a conflict listen to the issues of each stakeholder group and learn about their perspective on the problem and potential solutions. These dialogues often include various local agencies, institutions, and community residents, and frequently address topics including race, police-community relations, perceived hate crimes, tribal conflicts, protests and demonstrations, and other issues of importance to community members. By reframing and clarifying issues, CRS can help move the parties forward toward resolving their problems in mutually-acceptable ways.
CRS training programs bring together representatives from local government agencies, community faith-based organizations, law enforcement, advocacy groups, and businesses in order to develop collaborative approaches for reducing conflicts and addressing the factors that contributed to the disagreement. The programs not only assist participants in solving current issues, but also provide them with the skills and mechanisms necessary to resolving future tensions. CRS offers communities nine training programs that improve cultural competency, provide best practices and develop conflict resolution skills. Descriptions of the CRS training programs may be viewed on the CRS Resource Center webpage.
CRS offers consultation services to help communities respond more effectively in resolving conflicts and to improve stakeholders' ability to communication about tension and conflict. The Consultation service includes providing technical assistance in the formation of human relations commissions; best practices for engaging with different ethnic and religious communities, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals; referrals to other federal or state agencies, organizations and community groups; and coaching on issues of communication, dispute resolution and joint problem-solving.