Grant provides Family Advocacy Program with resources to address health care-based legal needs of Syracuse children
Grant provides Family Advocacy Program with resources to address health care-based legal needs of Syracuse childrenNovember 10, 2006Jaclyn D. Grossojgrosso@law.syr.edu
Many government aid programs and laws are intended to assist low-income families with their children’s health needs, but, unfortunately, doctors and administrators are often unaware of these programs or do not have the resources to assist families in these areas. But now, through a $10,000 grant to support the Family Advocacy Program, a partnership between University Hospital’s Pediatric and Adolescent Center (UPAC) and the SU College of Law’s Family Law and Social Policy Center and Children’s Rights and Family Law Clinic (CRC), the group can expand its impact on families and children in the community.
The Family Advocacy Program received the grant from the Medical Legal Partnership for Children (MLPC), a national program located in Boston that was created to change the delivery of health care for vulnerable children and their families nationwide.
“This money will help us train local health-care providers in identifying health-related legal issues, assist them in becoming better advocates for their patients through case consultations, and provide services to families,” says Sarah H. Ramsey, professor of law and director of the Family Law and Social Policy Center. “We’re proud to have this leading-edge program in our community.”
The primary objective of the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) is to improve the health and well-being of children served by UPAC using community resources. Ramsey says examples of health-related legal problems may include obtaining Social Security for children with chronic illnesses, resolving custody issues, addressing educational or housing problems, or obtaining services for children with disabilities.
“This partnership enables us to provide access to legal advice on matters directly impacting these children’s health and ultimately improves patient outcomes,” says Steven Blatt, M.D., a pediatrician at Upstate Medical University who co-directs the FAP. “The Family Advocacy Program also is a unique opportunity to train the new generations of pediatricians and lawyers to effectively address these important issues facing children and their families.”
The Family Advocacy Program began in 2005 and has received more than 30 requests for legal services on behalf of children and their families in its first full year of operation.
“We are very excited about the receipt of these funds as it will assist FAP in providing a comprehensive range of services to families, including the resolution of many of the legal issues that are currently affecting children’s health, as well as to prevent future crises from developing. This preventative advocacy has an exponential effect on the number of individuals assisted within these families,” says Suzette Melendez, professor of law and director of the Children’s Rights and Family Law Clinic.
Families and children who cannot be served by CRC are referred to other law offices through the pro bono outreach program. For example, CRC was unable to assist one family that requested assistance with an immigration issue. However, FAP’s pro bono coordinator was able to refer that family to a local attorney with immigration expertise for a pro bono consultation.