Model Approaches to Statewide Legal Assistance

Authorizing Legislation: Title IV, Section 420 (2)(a) of the Older Americans Act of 1965, as amended

Prior to 2019, ACL offered Model Approaches to Statewide Legal Assistance Systems grants, which helped states to develop and implement effective approaches for integrating low-cost legal mechanisms into statewide legal/aging service delivery networks to enhance overall service delivery capacity.

The Purpose of the Program and How it Works

Model Approaches to Statewide Legal Assistance Systems grants helped states develop and implement effective approaches for integrating low-cost legal mechanisms into statewide legal/aging service delivery networks to enhance overall service delivery capacity. State Legal Assistance Developers (LADs) led Model Approaches projects, which incorporated Senior Legal Helplines (SLHs) and other low-cost options for providing legal assistance into statewide grant-related initiatives. Key project partners in some grantee states included Older Americans Act Title III-B-funded legal assistance  providers, private bar practitioners serving in a pro-bono  capacity, law school clinics, and pop-up clinics and other means of providing self-help materials to older persons so they could solve their legal problems. Life-threatening legal issues addressed by legal assistance providers included income security, health care financing, consumer fraud, housing preservation and homelessness prevention, foreclosure prevention, and elder abuse.

As a centerpiece of the Model Approaches projects, SLHs assisted seniors in accessing legal services though toll-free telephone banks to connect them to lawyers who could help them assert their rights and enhance their independence and financial security. 

In addition, the projects created or sustained during the duration of the grant’s partnerships between the legal assistance community and broader community-based aging and elder rights networks, including AAAs, ADRCs, state long-term care ombudsmen, and Adult Protective Services.

In FY 2013, in the last round of Model Approaches grant-making, in addition to awarding four  new Model Approaches projects, ACL awarded seven new Model Approaches Phase II grants that were primarily focused on enhancing legal responses to complex issues that emerge from elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. In addition, the new projects were expected to expand outreach to older adults most in need, and to begin to develop legal data collection and reporting systems to better understand the practice and effect of legal assistance in enhancing elder rights.

Thirty-five states received funding under the Model Approaches grant program:

  • 2006 Grantees: Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, North Dakota, Virginia
  • 2007 Grantees: Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania
  • 2009 Grantees: California, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont
  • 2010 Grantees: Alaska, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia
  • 2013 Grantees: Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington
  • 2013 Grantees (Phase II): California, District of Columbia, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska
  • 2016 grantees (Phase II): Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia 

Model Approaches (Phase I and II) grantees:

  • Coordinated, and leveraged, existing legal network and its resources;
  • Involved stakeholders in statewide planning, collaboration, and legal needs assessments;
  • Created statewide legal guidelines and began development of legal data collection and reporting systems, this work was subsumed into the revamping of ACL’s State Performance Reporting;
  • Enhanced legal responses to complex issues that emerge from elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation; and
  • Provided legal education to empower seniors and help prevent legal problems.

Funding History

FY 2005: $1,471,147
FY 2006: $1,455,435
FY 2007: $1,456,436
FY 2008: $1,431,547
FY 2009: $1,974,000
FY 2010: $1,999,569
FY 2011: $1,999,569
FY 2012: $1,940,442
FY 2013: $1,966,323
FY 2014: $1,862,245
FY 2015: $1,966,329


Last modified on 07/09/2021


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