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Administration on Aging (AoA)

Model Approaches to Statewide Legal Assistance Systems (OAA Title IV)

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

The Purpose of the Program and How it Works

The Model Approaches to Statewide Legal Assistance Systems (Model Approaches) grants help 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. Legal assistance provided through well-integrated and cost-effective delivery systems directly enables older adults to remain independent, healthy, and financially secure in their homes and communities.

Strong leadership at the state level helps achieve various service delivery enhancement objectives. State Legal Assistance Developers (LADs) demonstrate effective leadership in incorporating Senior Legal Helplines (SLHs) and other low-cost mechanisms into statewide legal services delivery infrastructures. Key project partners also include Title III-B legal services providers, private bar, pro-bono attorneys, law school clinics, and self-help sites. By promoting the seamless integration of vital legal service delivery components that maximize service delivery capacity, these projects enable seniors to access quality legal services in priority legal issue areas. Those issues can include income security, healthcare financing, consumer fraud, housing and foreclosure prevention, and elder abuse.

As a key centerpiece of the Model Approaches projects, SLHs assist seniors in accessing legal services to ensure seniors’ rights and enhance their independence and financial security. Since 2006, Model Approaches projects have assisted thousands of older consumers with priority legal issues related to public benefits, health care, housing, advance planning, and consumer protection. In addition, by ensuring strong leadership at the state level, these projects have created important partnerships and linkages between the legal assistance community and the broader community-based aging and elder rights networks, including AAAs, ADRCs, state long-term care ombudsmen, and Adult Protective Services.

In FY 2013, ACL began awarding Model Approaches Phase II grants to evolve legal service delivery systems to even higher levels of capacity, performance, and service delivery impact. Phase II projects are primarily focused on enhancing legal responses to complex issues that emerge from elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. In addition, these new projects are expanding outreach to older adults most in need and implementing legal-data collection/reporting systems that show the beneficial impact of legal services on the independence, health, and financial security of older adults.

Thirty-five states have 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: Tennessee, Wisconsin
  • 2016 Grantees (Phase II): Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia

Model Approaches grantees currently are involved in:

  • Strengthening, coordinating and leveraging the existing legal network and its resources
  • Involving stakeholders in statewide planning, collaboration and legal needs assessment
  • Creating statewide legal standards and implementing legal data collection and reporting systems
  • Enhancing legal responses to complex issues that emerge from elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
  • Providing legal education to empower seniors and help prevent legal problems

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Data Highlight Extensive Services Provided to Seniors

Model Approaches Senior Legal Helpline component in FY 2015 demonstrated that the program:

  • Closed nearly 19,995 cases with telephone advice or additional brief service
  • Reached low income populations with over 75 percent of older clients having incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.
  • Reached older minority populations facing complex legal issues, constituting 26 percent of all clients served.

Outcomes achieved and anticipated include:

  • Enhanced collaboration among Area Agencies on Aging, ADRCs, and legal providers
  • Improved visibility and capacity of legal services programs and helplines
  • Fostered private-bar initiatives and collaborations
  • Strengthened systems that reach underserved and hard-to-reach seniors most in need
  • Strengthened legal responses to elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.

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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

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Resources and Useful Links

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Last Modified: 10/5/2016