By Christopher Jackson, Communications Coordinator, Elder Law of Michigan, and Project Administrator, Center for Elder Rights Advocacy
The Senior Legal Helpline Technical Assistance Project, as part of the National Legal Resource Center, is a project of the Center for Elder Rights Advocacy (CERA), a program of Elder Law of Michigan (ELM). The goal of this project is to provide cost-effective, customer-centered technical assistance to professionals operating senior legal helplines (SLH) and to those wishing to establish a senior legal helpline in their state. CERA further prioritizes services and resources to assist senior legal helplines operating under the Model Approaches to Statewide Legal Assistance Systems (Model Approaches) project. CERA has been awarded a new grant from the Administration on Community Living (ACL) to provide these services, with the award period running through 2018.
During this grant period, CERA has a wide range of objectives to achieve including:
- Provide a broad range of technical assistance to SLHs in designing systems of response for legal issues that emerge from cases of elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation;
- Create legal trainings on emerging legal issues that SLHs are uniquely positioned to help resolve;
- Develop a training curriculum for SLH attorneys that includes principles of supportive decision-making, person-centered planning, and other client-focused methods that focus on maintaining the independence and autonomy of the senior;
- Identify outcome measures that quantify the beneficial impact SLHs have on the independence, health, and financial security of older adults in the most social or economic need;
- Cultivate best practice models of innovative, low-cost mechanisms designed to enhance statewide legal service delivery capacity; and
- Compile an updated list of Title III-B funded legal services providers and contact information.
CERA staff are made up of senior legal helpline managing attorneys and other professionals from across the country.
Keith L. Morris, J.D., M.P.A., is the Director of the Center for Elder Rights Advocacy and the Project Director for the technical assistance to senior legal helplines project. He started as a volunteer at the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors and within several years, was the manager of the largest senior hotline in the country. He has many years of experience working with all aspects of running a senior legal helpline, from the phone system programming to the selection and retention of volunteers. He has presented over 50 workshops in the past fifteen years on topics related to operating a senior legal helpline. Since starting CERA in 2007, Keith has provided numerous hours of technical assistance to senior legal helplines throughout the country. He is regularly contacted for consultation on intake and screening, case management systems, referral processes, and case handling.
Christopher Jackson, J.D., is the CERA Project Administrator and has been working with CERA for the past year, prior to which he served as a Hotline Attorney at Elder Law of Michigan. Chris has a strong background in technology, marketing, and communications. His has earned the reputation of being responsive, creative, and thorough with the senior legal helpline programs that he has worked with over the past year.
Darling Garcia, J.D., LL.M., is a former Title III-B attorney handling cases in the areas of family law, mortgage and tax foreclosure, elder law, housing law, consumer law, and public benefits, and a Senior Legal Helpline Attorney at Elder Law of Michigan.
Mary Haberland, J.D., manages the Centralized Telephone Intake (CTI) Unit at Bay Area Legal Services (BALS). In 2002, Mary developed BALS’ Legal Aid Line, a five-county telephone intake program. She also established and manages the Florida Senior Legal Helpline, a free statewide legal advice and referral helpline that has provided services to thousands of elderly Floridians since 2006.
Mike Walters, J.D., manages the Legal Hotline at Pro Seniors, Inc. in Cincinnati, Ohio, currently one of the largest SLHs in the country. Mike has been practicing law since 1991 and is admitted to practice in the state of Ohio and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, as well as the Federal courts. Mike’s practice has always included an emphasis on Social Security issues.
Shoshanna Ehrlich, J.D., is a CERA Program Consultant and was a senior legal helpline specialist for over 20 years. Prior to joining CERA, she served as the Manager of the AARP Foundation Technical Support for Legal Hotlines Project. She joined the Legal Hotlines Technical Support Project after working at the Legal Hotline for Older Floridians – Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. for six years, as Director and Supervising Attorney.
Continue to follow us on the CERA Blog to read about further developments in the CERA program and senior legal helplines across the country.