Authorizing Legislation: Title IV, Section 420(a)(2), of the Older Americans Act, as amended
ACL’s Legal Assistance Enhancement Program (LAEP) supports legal assistance enhancements and innovations in four key areas:
- Outreach efforts to effectively educate clients and the aging network about legal assistance;
- Intake strategies that are integrated with the broader aging network;
- Essential partnerships within and outside the aging network that serve communities of older adults; and
- Delivery of full-range legal assistance, from legal advice through representation.
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) awarded four Legal Assistance Enhancement Program (LAEP) cooperative agreements with three-year terms totaling $819,455.00. These grants seek to achieve quantifiable and sustainable enhancements to increase the effectiveness of legal assistance for older Americans with social or economic need.
These grants 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.
The projects are intended to produce measurable outcomes, including:
- Expanding access to legal assistance for older adults;
- Improving the delivery of legal assistance services to older adults;
- Increasing legal service providers’ substantive expertise and skills across the spectrum of legal issues experienced by older adults; and
- Increasing collaboration between legal service providers and the aging network.
2022 LAEP Grantees
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma (LASO), in partnership with the 11 Oklahoma Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), the Community Living, Aging and Protective Services Division (CAP) of the
Oklahoma Department of Human Services, and the Oklahoma Conference of Churches (OCC), will enhance and expand access to justice to underserved older adults in Oklahoma and specifically target outreach to rural elders and older adults with limited English proficiency by providing Vietnamese and Spanish translations. This project will also increase legal providers’ substantive expertise and skills and strengthen community partnerships.
Iowa Legal Aid
Iowa Legal Aid, the Iowa Department on Aging, and Iowa’s Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), in partnership with the American Red Cross and the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, will increase understanding among older rural Iowans of how to respond to their unique issues in planning for disasters and responding to the legal problems for older adults that often arise in disaster recovery. Legal aid lawyers will be assigned to geographic areas lacking broadband access to connect through a mobile intake unit and to integrate legal services with disaster preparation and response. Clients will receive a full range of legal assistance, from advice and education to full representation, focused on the areas of housing, income, healthcare, and decisional supports, such as powers of attorney.
Montana Legal Services Association
The Montana Legal Services Association, in partnership with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), will expand and enhance Montana’s current elder rights services by providing civil legal assistance to older Montanans and to create a more cohesive network of and partnership with Montana elder service providers. This project will have a strong focus on assisting tribal elders and will additionally emphasize strengthening relationships with Montana’s Adult Protective Services (APS) and Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) to reach older adults experiencing problems which have legal solutions. The overarching project goal is to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency, quality, availability, and accessibility of legal aid services for older adults in Montana.
Prairie State Legal Services, Inc.
Prairie State Legal Services, Inc. will test an innovative model for bringing legal assistance resources to older persons where they live by offering legal assistance onsite to historically underserved older people to build stronger collaborations to benefit older adults. This project expands access to legal services by co-locating legal aid within a low-income housing complex for older adults and persons with disabilities. This effort will empower older adults by helping them resolve legal issues to improve their safety and independence, while strengthening the collaboration between legal services providers and the aging network.
- 2019 Grantees
In 2019, ACL funded six organizations with three-year grants to address gaps in access to elder rights supports and strengthening elder rights programs serving older adults. Grantees address a diverse set of issues, such as supporting grandparents raising grandchildren, utilizing technology to advance elder justice, a Medical-Legal Partnership, reaching under-served communities, and disaster recovery.
Cherry Street Services, Inc., a Federally Qualified Health Center, in partnership with Legal Aid of Western Michigan, operates a Medical-Legal Partnership that focuses on identifying legal solutions for health-harming issues faced by older-adult patients of the health center. The on-site attorney is a vital part of the health center's integrated health care service delivery, and identifies and addresses the legal needs of older-adult patients while providing training to and learning from primary care providers, social workers, nurses, Community Health Workers, and others engaged in the health care of older adults.
Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc. (ILAS) increased attorney capacity to take on pressing legal matters impacting older adults, expanded representation through both a senior advice line and extended representation, and built and strengthened partnerships throughout urban and rural parts of the state. Through the project, ILAS developed a legal screening tool and partnered with other organizations to screen more older adults for potential legal need, identify legal issues at a preventative stage, and facilitate direct referrals from partners. ILAS also conducted education and outreach statewide.
Legal Services of Alabama, Inc. (LSA), in partnership with Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, works to enhance and expand holistic legal services to older persons across the state. Through the project, LSA is developing partnerships with community services providers, and conducting community education and outreach to achieve positive outcomes in addressing the legal needs of older adults in Alabama, with a focus on access to home and community-based services.
Legal Services of North Florida, in partnership with Legal Services of Greater Miami, created a replicable statewide model of delivery of legal assistance to older Floridians. Through the project, they improved intake systems, training programs, outreach, and direct legal services to improve access to legal services and legal outcomes for older adults. They developed innovative tools to improve services and served as a model for providing legal assistance to older adults with critical needs, such as those who are homeless, victims of physical abuse, victims of consumer and economic exploitation, and to assist older Floridians recovering from natural and other disasters, including the COVID pandemic.
The Public Law Center (PLC), in partnership with the Council on Aging of Southern California, works to increase access to legal assistance for older adults and educate older adults in Orange County, CA about their legal needs and rights and the availability of assistance to address issues, specifically focusing on elder financial abuse. They also work to provide holistic services to address a range of legal and non-legal needs, through a social worker who partners with the attorneys providing legal assistance.
SeniorLAW Center works to increase access to legal representation, education, and resources for older adults in Pennsylvania who are caring for minor children when the biological parents are unable to do so. Through the project, SeniorLAW Center is creating innovative tools to enhance intake, training legal professionals to increase pro bono representation of grandparents raising grandchildren, engaging community partners to increase access to legal assistance for older adults, and conducting community education for older adults to learn about their legal needs and rights.