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Administration on Aging (AoA)

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

Authorizing Legislation: Title IV, Section 420 (2)(a) 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 in order 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 senior 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 their 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, in addition to awarding 4 new Model Approaches projects, ACL awarded 7 new 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

Model Approaches grantees currently are involved in:

  • Strengthening, coordinating and leveraging the existing legal network and its resources
  • Involving stakeholders in statewide planning and collaboration
  • Creating statewide standards and defining measurable units of legal assistance
  • Providing legal education to empower seniors and help prevent legal problems
  • Improving seniors’ access to existing legal assistance and services

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Data Highlight Extensive Services Provided to Seniors

Data collection results have not yet been reported by the Model Approaches program. However, data from the helpline component alone in FY 2005 demonstrated that the program:

  • Handled over 96,000 calls
  • Closed nearly 65,000 cases with telephone advice or additional brief service
  • Reached more than 262,500 seniors through workshops and outreach events

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

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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

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Resources and Useful Links

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Last Modified: 7/10/2015