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New York Bar Foundation helps Family Advocacy Program address health care-based legal needs of Syracuse children
New York Bar Foundation helps Family Advocacy Program address health care-based legal needs of Syracuse children September 25, 2007Jaclyn 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.
“Our goal is to provide comprehensive advocacy to resolve the health-related legal needs of low-income children,” says Sarah H. Ramsey, professor of law in the Syracuse University College of Law and co-director of the Family Advocacy Program (FAP). “Examples of health-related legal problems may include obtaining Social Security funds for children with chronic illnesses, addressing educational or housing problems, or obtaining services for children with disabilities.”
FAP is a partnership between SUNY Upstate Medical University’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). Ramsey and co-directors Steven Blatt of UPAC and law professor Suzette Melendez of CRC note that the primary objective of FAP is to improve the health and well-being of children served by UPAC using legal advocacy and community resources.
A $3,000 donation from the New York Bar Foundation for a student fellowship will enable FAP to develop its pro bono network and expand its impact on families and children in the community. David M. Hayes, New York Bar Foundation Fellow and of counsel to the Bond, Schoeneck & King law firm will present the award to FAP on Sept. 25.
The Family Advocacy Program began in 2005 and has received more than 70 requests for legal services on behalf of children and their families since its inception. “Due to case load constraints and conflicts, the CRC is unable to provide assistance to every family referred by UPAC,” says Melendez. “It is imperative that we maintain an extensive pro bono attorney network for case referrals so that FAP is able to assist as many families as possible.”
“This money will fund a student fellow to assist with the development of our pro bono attorney network,” says Heidi White McCormick, the executive director of the SU College of Law’s Family Law and Social Policy Center and coordinator of FAP’s pro bono outreach program. “We’re proud to have this leading-edge program in our community and grateful to the New York Bar Foundation for their support.” Hanna Kinne, a third-year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law, is the recipient of the one-year fellowship.
Families and children who cannot be served by CRC are referred to volunteer attorneys through the pro bono outreach program. For example, CRC was unable to assist one family that requested assistance with an immigration issue. However, White McCormick was able to refer that family to a local attorney with immigration expertise for a pro bono consultation.