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Legal Assistance Enhancement Program

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Title
Legal Assistance Enhancement Program
Opportunity ID
311839
Center
AOA
Primary CFDA Number
93.048
Funding Opportunity Number
HHS-2019-ACL-AOA-LAEP-0344
Funding Instrument Type
Cooperative Agreement
Expected Number of Awards Synopsis
8
Length of Project Periods
36-month project period with three 12-month budget periods
Project Period Expected Duration in Months
36
Eligibility Category
Unrestricted (i.e., open to any type of entity above), subject to any clarification in text field entitled "Additional Information on Eligibility"
Additional Information on Eligibility
Domestic public or private non-profit entities including state and local governments, Indian tribal governments and organizations (American Indian/Alaskan Native/Native American), faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, hospitals and institutions of higher education.
Estimated Award Date
Funding Opportunity Description

BackgroundThe Older Americans Act (OAA) envisions the key role of legal assistance in securing independence for and the rights of older Americans. Legal assistance providers enable older Americans to assert their rights and remove barriers to economic and personal independence and self-determination. Interventions by providers can address the social determinants of health and wellbeing to preserve older Americans’ access to appropriate services and can support their rights to live free from or recover from the experience of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.[1]
The OAA directs these services to older Americans with social or economic need (eligible clients), with a specific focus on those who are isolated by reason of geography, language, culture, or residential setting.[2] The OAA mandates that legal assistance for eligible clients be accessible, that is, easy to locate and use, and delivered by knowledgeable, well-trained legal assistance providers.[3] Additionally, a full-range of legal service, from advice through full legal representation provided by attorneys (and others, such as law students, under the supervision of lawyers) is to be available to such eligible clients on key legal matters, as iterated in the OAA.[4]
For this population, experiencing civil legal problems can have an especially dire impact. Accordingly, the OAA prioritizes specified critical issues with legal solutions for legal assistance delivery. These priority case types are income, health care, long-term care, nutrition, housing, defense of guardianship, abuse, neglect, and age discrimination.[5] In redressing these issues, legal assistance providers prevent homelessness among older Americans by contesting unwarranted evictions and foreclosure in communities and by representing long-term care residents in unlawful involuntary removal from long-term residential facilities. They enable elders to enforce their rights of access to and coverage of needed health care through Medicare and Medicaid, and to quality care in nursing facilities. They empower the decisional rights of older Americans through tools such as powers of attorney and health care proxies and by contesting and revoking inappropriate guardianship orders.
In addition, legal assistance providers are able to deploy a wide range of civil legal remedies in the fight against elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation, from protective orders through restoration of title of property stolen by abusers, to establishing entitlement to public benefits denied due to alleged transfer of assets that masks theft by abusers. These legal assistance interventions prevent abuse and, for those who have experienced abuse, these interventions can restore an elder’s sense of agency over her life, supporting the process of transforming victims into survivors, making them whole again.
Legal assistance providers funded under the OAA are arranged through contract with Area Agencies on Aging (AAA). The OAA requires that the providers selected by AAAs must be “best able” to deploy staff with relevant expertise, as well as demonstrate the capacity to provide effective administrative and judicial representation, support other advocacy efforts (such as those of the long-term care Ombudsman program), and to extend their legal services to institutionalized, isolated, and homebound older individuals.[6] Moreover, legal assistance providers must be able to deliver their services in the principal language spoken by their older clients in areas where a significant number of such clients do not speak English as their principal language.[7] Legal assistance providers must have the skills and capacity to support eligible clients through a range of the critical life issues prioritized in the OAA.
ACL emphasizes the following components that comprise a legal assistance program or network, reflecting the values contained in the OAA and maximizing legal assistance effectiveness, efficiencies and capabilities:

Outreach efforts to effectively educate eligible clients and the broader aging network about problems experienced by this population that are amenable to legal solutions, how legal assistance can help resolve the priority issues identified in the OAA, and how and where such legal assistance may be sought;
Intake strategies that are integrated with the broader aging network, enabling legal assistance providers to identify and accept eligible clients with cases that fit within priority case types;
Delivery of full-range legal assistance, from legal advice through representation, including the following factors as contributing to effective delivery:

The selection by AAA of the entities that are best able to provide legal assistance, as provided in the OAA;
Ongoing substantive skills training and professional development for legal assistance providers, aligned to the priority issues commonly encountered by eligible clients, and
Culturally competent approaches to the communities of eligible clients whom the programs serve.

Essential partnerships within and outside the aging network that serve communities of older Americans, including AAA, Long-term Care Ombudsman, senior and disability housing, and organizations assisting older adults with disabilities, to enable issue spotting and appropriate cross-referrals to address legal issues.

ACL underscores that these components are not independent of each other, but rather are inextricably linked together in fulfilling the vision for legal assistance established by the OAA. In preparing proposals, applicants should assess how their legal assistance program or network currently works with these factors.
Prior Legal Assistance Grant HistoryStarting in 2006, ACL sought to address some of the challenges related to the delivery of legal assistance to older adults – particularly fragmented and inefficient delivery systems – through the Model Approaches to Statewide Legal Assistance Systems (Model Approaches) demonstration grants. These 35 grants were intended to enhance the delivery of legal assistance through the fielding of legal need and capacity assessments, development of legal service delivery guidelines, and exploration of other low-cost legal assistance delivery mechanisms, most significantly telephonic legal helplines and law school clinics.
In 2013 and 2016, Model Approaches Phase II grants were awarded to a total of thirteen states. In addition to the objectives described above that were to be advanced under Model Approaches Phase I, Phase II also promoted the creation of legal assistance responsive to complex legal issues emerging from cases of elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
Current ChallengesAccording to a recent Legal Services Corporation report,[8] elders seek legal assistance for less than 20 percent of their legal issues. Key reasons included not recognizing that their issue had legal solutions, not knowing where to turn for help, and reluctance to ask for help. Further, the report found that low-income elders received inadequate or no professional legal help for 87 percent of their civil legal problems.[9] Isolation by virtue of geography, language and other factors, such as living in rural, frontier or tribal communities, only increases the access gap.
These findings are consistent with the observation that, even after 14 years of Model Approaches grants, legal assistance programs continue to face many challenges in providing accessible and capable legal assistance services to older Americans. Networks continue to grapple with increasing demand for legal assistance by older adults, a complex array of legal problems in the areas identified as priorities in the OAA, and complicated legal interventions that require high levels of substantive expertise and skills. Further, a combination of factors – isolation, disability, lack of awareness of legal solutions to commonly experienced issues, limited or no access to internet resources, limited English proficiency, and dependence on or interference from others – make it harder for many eligible clients to receive legal help when they need it and more challenging for legal assistance providers to reach out and offer such help to older individuals.
Through this new grant program, ACL seeks to offer legal assistance stakeholders the opportunity to identify and implement enhancements to legal assistance programs that will improve the effectiveness and efficiencies of services. ACL intends that this grant program will demonstrate ways in which a greater number of eligible clients may be served to redress the legal issues prioritized within the OAA, fulfilling the intentions articulated in the OAA of securing independence and the rights of older Americans.
Funding DescriptionThe purpose of ACL’s new Legal Assistance Enhancement Program (LAEP) is to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of legal assistance programs and networks that include OAA-funded legal assistance providers. This funding opportunity promotes enhancements, including innovations to legal assistance services, practices, partnerships and capabilities consistent with ACL’s mission and the OAA.
For this funding opportunity, ACL invites applications that seek to achieve quantifiable and sustainable enhancements that build upon existing programmatic work to increase the effectiveness of legal assistance for older Americans with social or economic need.
Effective legal assistance delivery includes access for eligible clients to a full range of comprehensive legal assistance services, from advice through full representation. While some of the legal issues eligible clients face can be redressed through brief service, such as drafting legal correspondence, others require the provision of full representational services to older clients, including but not limited to representation in administrative and/or judicial forums, as provided in the OAA. Because legal assistance providers funded by OAA monies are charged with offering the full range of legal representation, under this funding opportunity, entities that deliver full representational services must be afforded a significant role in achieving the proposed goals and objectives of the project through the enhancements proposed.
Due attention should similarly be given to efficiencies in performing outreach and intake functions, such as helplines and other similar mechanisms. The role of intake and brief service delivery is critical in triaging and directing older clients to appropriate legal resources. Additionally, integration of or close relationships between these brief service functions and full representational services establishes efficiencies that enable more effective legal assistance to be accessible to a greater number of eligible clients. Applicants should consider strategies to address intake and brief service and to connect these activities with one another. Finally, partnerships across the aging network play a key role in promoting legal issue spotting and multi-disciplinary services to older adults, including but not limited to seamless (“warm”) referrals for appropriate legal representation.
This grant requires applicants to think creatively and propose new, different or enhanced and replicable ways to implement each of the four components of an effective and efficient legal assistance program or network. In addition, the applicant should develop performance measures that indicate how they will measure their success for each component:

Outreach efforts to effectively educate eligible clients and the broader aging network about problems experienced by this population that are amenable to legal solutions, how legal assistance can help resolve the priority issues identified in the OAA, and how and where such legal assistance may be sought;
Intake strategies that are integrated with the broader aging network, enabling legal assistance providers to identify and accept eligible clients with cases that fit within priority case types;
Delivery of full-range legal assistance, from legal advice through representation, including the following factors as contributing to effective delivery:

The selection by AAA of the entities that are best able to provide legal assistance, as provided in the OAA;
Ongoing substantive skills training and professional development for legal assistance providers, aligned to the priority issues commonly encountered by eligible clients, and
Culturally competent approaches to the communities of eligible clients whom the programs serve.

Essential partnerships within and outside the aging network that serve communities of older Americans, including AAA, Long-term Care Ombudsman, senior and disability housing, and organizations assisting older adults with disabilities, to enable issue spotting and appropriate cross-referrals to address legal issues.

As noted in the Background section of this Funding Opportunity Announcement, each of these components – while individually significant dimensions of a legal assistance program or network – should not be viewed in isolation from one another.
Below are some examples of activities applicants could undertake to accomplish the goal and objectives of this funding opportunity. ACL emphasizes that these are only examples, and proposals that incorporate these examples are not guaranteed awards under this opportunity. Applicant scores will not be affected by whether a proposed activity is taken from the list below. Applicants are free to propose any activities that they believe would meet the above goals and objectives and should explain their rationale cogently in the narrative section of the proposal.
ACL encourages applicants to think creatively about what new, different or enhanced innovative approaches could meet the goal and objectives of this funding opportunity. For example:

Outreach efforts:

Development of approaches to outreach that strategically link to intake and legal assistance service delivery to incorporate partners at venues where eligible clients live, engage with their communities, or seek services (ex., clinical, medical, or social services).
Creative ways to educate older adults and the aging network about commonly experienced issues amenable to legal solutions.

Intake strategies:

Use of technology to identify and directly connect eligible clients to appropriate legal assistance resources with due attention to client confidentiality, privacy and consent, and that do not burden the individual with having to re-explain their legal issues to multiple offices or personnel.
Applying trauma-informed approaches to legal assistance intake and representational interactions and relationships.
Implementing community lawyering options, such as medical-legal partnerships or statewide approaches like centralized intake or helplines that are structured to provide eligible clients with ready access to a full range of legal assistance.

Delivery of full-range legal assistance:

Interactive or experiential substantive legal education and skills training and professional development opportunities for legal assistance providers, aligned to the priority legal problems commonly encountered by eligible clients.
Training programs, mentorship, shadowing and other innovative ways to build upon professional development and retain seasoned staff, while reducing attrition and burnout.
Strategic development of case-handling protocols for complex situations.

Key partnerships within and outside the aging network that serve communities of eligible clients:

Strategies to strengthen relationships between Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs and legal assistance networks to secure the rights of nursing home residents.
Approaches to improved relationships for appropriate referrals and/or joint work with partners including but not limited to Adult Protective Services, Elder Justice Coalitions, domestic violence advocates, Protection and Advocacy, Centers for Independent Living, and Department of Justice Elder Justice Coordinators.

Proposed enhancements to be funded through this funding opportunity must directly address the components of legal assistance as described in the Funding Opportunity Announcement.
This funding opportunity is different from the Model Approaches for Statewide Legal Assistance Grant program. Accordingly, funds awarded under this opportunity may not be used to continue or carry out existing activities that were undertaken in previous Model Approaches grants. However, while this funding opportunity may not be used to continue existing projects or initiatives, eligible entities in states in which Model Approaches grants were received may apply for this funding opportunity.
Proposal Requirements
Proposals should clearly identify the problem(s) the applicant intends to address and state the enhancements that applicant is seeking to implement through this funding opportunity, objectives of the chosen enhancements, and the activities they will undertake to accomplish their identified objectives. Applicants should identify a geographic area for the proposed project no larger than statewide, although a smaller geographic reach will be considered upon adequate justification.
In the project narrative, all applicants should detail how they plan to address the following:

Identification and description of the problems or challenges the applicant wishes to address through a Legal Assistance Enhancement Program grant;
Achievable goals and objectives for enhanced delivery of legal assistance on the priority case types to eligible clients, incorporating the four components of legal assistance identified in this funding announcement;
The activities that are proposed to reach stated goals and objectives and achieve outcomes, along with a justification for the selected activities, including activities to be undertaken by provider(s) of full-service legal assistance;
Intended performance measures, including activities, outputs, and outcomes, associated with goals and objectives;
How the applicant proposes to document the outcomes and achievement of the objectives that are identified for the proposed activities;
A formulated approach to sustaining the enhancement(s) after the grant concludes; and
How the enhancement(s) could be replicated by other legal assistance programs and networks.

Applicants must include submission of Letters of Commitment from agencies, organizations, or entities that are specifically named to carry out any aspect of the project, other than the applicant. The Letters of Commitment must be on the letterhead of the committing entity, and should provide details on the specific role and resources/activities that will be provided in support of the applicant’s project. Letters of Commitment must be signed by an individual with authority to make the commitment for the agency, organization or entity. This funding opportunity does not permit an agency, organization or entity to act solely as a pass-through for funding.
Logic Model
Applicants may use a logic model in organizing their proposal. A sample logic model is included in Section VIII.1.2. The logic model is not a requirement for application; does not substitute for the required, written application narrative; and no additional points will be awarded based on whether a logic model is included or not. The logic model is provided as a tool to help applicants organize planning.
Applicants should note that as a condition of award, new grantees will be asked to complete a logic model of their project within the first phase (maximum of first six months) of the grant project. However, the presence or absence of a logic model with or in the application will have no effect on scores.
Project Timeline
The project period is three (3) years, depending on satisfactory performance, the availability of funds, and the determination by ACL that the program is still in the best interest of the government. Over the three years, ACL anticipates the grantees will follow the timeline below, absent extenuating circumstances.
This is only a sample timeline. Actual planning, implementation, and wrap-up activities may vary and ACL will work with each grantee to ensure timely completion of each phase. Each grantee’s progression through the grant phases will be supported by interactive learning among grantees and technical assistance from ACL.
This sample timeline is provided to help applicants think through the different phases of the project, from planning, implementation and wrap-up activities:
Planning (Months 1-6)

Complete logic model of project
Participate in project officer technical assistance meetings at least monthly
Refine and finalize project plan, projected outcomes, and sustainability goals
Implement mechanisms in conjunction with ACL for ongoing project evaluation (see Evaluation section for funding opportunity evaluation guidelines)
Attend an in-person grantee meeting convened by ACL prior to or immediately upon commencement of the Implementation phase.
Launch project activities by the end of month 6

Implementation (Months 7-30)

Proposed activities to meet objectives and achieve outcomes are fully operational
Tracking of the project’s performance measures, including activities, outputs, and outcomes is fully underway
Sustainability planning is fully underway
Submission is timely made of semi-annual reports
Participate in project officer technical assistance meetings
Participate in quarterly learning collaborative calls with other grantees
Attend annual grantee meeting convened by ACL
Implement project evaluation

Final Phase (Months 31-36)

Proposed activities to meet objectives and achieve outcomes continue to be fully operational
Tracking of the project’s performance measures, including activities, outputs, and outcomes, continues
Transition to execution of completed sustainability plan and possible replication plans underway
Participation in periodic project officer technical assistance meetings continues
Project evaluation is ongoing and conclusions are being formulated
Prepared data and other components for final report are compiled
Final report is submitted

Please note that ACL plans to convene a face-to-face “all grantee meeting” during each of the three project years. Grantees are required to attend these meetings, absent extenuating circumstances, and grant funds may be used to cover this grant-related expense. If applicants intend to use grant funds to attend this meeting, they should include this expense in the application budget. The first such meeting will occur at the end of Phase I or the beginning of Phase II.
Technical Assistance
Technical assistance to the grantees will be provided primarily by ACL program staff via regular conference calls, email correspondence, webinars, and annual grantee meetings, as well as by the National Center on Law and Elder Rights (NCLER) in coordination with and as directed by ACL.
Evaluation
Grantee evaluations of their projects facilitate ACL’s assessment of whether developmental grant programs like this one are effective in contributing to positive change. For purposes of this funding opportunity, ACL defines evaluation as a comprehensive performance assessment of grantee’s activities, outputs and outcomes. ACL will provide substantial technical assistance on grant evaluation activities. Grantees will include progress and information/data on the project’s activities, outputs and outcomes and the evaluation in semi-annual reports and at other times as agreed upon by the grantee and ACL.
For this opportunity, applicants are asked to include a description of the method(s) that will be employed to successfully measure whether or not the project has achieved its proposed outcome(s) and the overall goal for this funding opportunity, and who will be responsible for carrying out the evaluation activities. This evaluation plan should be included in the “Evaluation” section of the application narrative.
The qualifications of the evaluator will be reviewed in the section of the project narrative for “key personnel.” ACL will provide technical assistance to grantees with the refinement of a project’s evaluation plan. Applicants should identify in their applications an individual responsible for the evaluation, who should be among the applicant’s key personnel or a key partner to the grant. Due to the nature of the goal and objectives of this funding opportunity, the individual selected should not be an outside evaluator. Applicants should consider the associated time and costs for evaluation within Work Plan and Budget.
Data Collection
All grantees will be required to submit to ACL the new State Performance Report data[10] on direct legal assistance provided during the grant period. These data will be reported on by all providers of direct legal assistance to older adults, including OAA-funded legal assistance providers. ACL intends for data to be reported on direct legal assistance provided during the full duration of the grant period, including on services provided before the intended FFY2020 start of the new SPR reporting requirement. ACL will provide grantees with technical assistance in reviewing and submitting the data elements. ACL intends these data to be an integral component of grantee evaluation. These data will help to assess whether the enhancements implemented through the funded projects are contributing to achievement of the stated goals and objectives. Applicants should consider the level of effort they foresee for reporting new SPR legal assistance data and include the effort in the project narrative, the work plan and the budget and in other application documents as appropriate. Please note that grantees will be expected to de-identify and aggregate this data; ACL will not accept the disclosure of personally identifiable information.
Rights in Data
The following describes the HHS policies around "rights in data." These are included by reference in the conditions of the Notice of Award.
ACL understands that the outcomes and results from these demonstration grants may be such that the awardee would like to publish an article or report on the project’s results, or disseminate information in some other public way. Per the HHS Grants Policy Statement (January 1, 2007), page II-69: “In general, [grant] recipients own the rights in data resulting from a grant-supported project or program….[A]ny publications, data, or other copyrightable works developed under an HHS grant may be copyrighted without OPDIV prior approval.” That is, grantees under this funding opportunity do not need ACL approval to publish reports, articles, or other material about their projects. However, any published reports, articles, or other material must include the following disclaimer:
"This (activity/report/document/etc.) was supported, in part, by a grant (No. XX-xxxx) from the Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Grantees carrying out projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Therefore, points of view or opinions do not necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living or DHHS policy."
Applicants should also note that Under 45 CFR §75, ACL reserves a royalty-free, nonexclusive, and irrevocable right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use copyrightable works developed (or for which ownership was purchased) under this cooperative agreement for Federal purposes, and to authorize others to do so. The Federal government's right to such copyrightable works and data are explained further in the HHS Grants Policy Statement. For this funding opportunity, this means that grantees may not withhold from ACL data or information produced from or by this project, including, but not limited to, outcome and evaluation data. Per the Terms and Conditions included in the Notice of Award for this funding opportunity, grant recipients must provide a final report at the conclusion of the project that includes the data and materials produced by the grant.
Please Note: The HHS Grants Policy Statement defines “data” as “recorded information, regardless of the form or media on which it may be recorded, and includes writings, films, sound recordings, pictorial reproductions, drawings, designs or other graphic representations, procedural manuals, forms, diagrams, work flow charts, equipment descriptions, data files, data processing or computer programs (software), statistical records, and other research data.”
[1] U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2011). ELDER JUSTICE: Stronger Federal Leadership Could Enhance National Response to Elder Abuse. (GAO-11-208). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

[1] State Bar of California, Making a Difference: California Legal Aid (January 2019).

[2]42 C.F.R. § 1321.71(c)(4), (5).

[3]42 C.F.R. § 1321.71(c)(1),(2).

[4] Id.

[5] 42 U.S.C. § 3027(a)(11)(E).

[6] 42 U.S.C. § 3027(a)(11)(B); 42 C.F.R. § 1321.71(c)(2),(3),(4).

[7] 42 C.F.R. § 1321.71(c)(5).

[8] Legal Services Corporation, The Justice Gap: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-income Americans, June 2017, available at https://www.lsc.gov/sites/default/files/images/TheJusticeGap-FullReport….

[9] Id.

[10] https://agid.acl.gov/Resources/OAA_SPR.aspx

Award Ceiling
250000
Award Floor
100000
Due Date for Applications
Date for Informational Conference Call

Last modified on 05/23/2019


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