Santa Ana – Public Law Center, in partnership with the Council on Aging Southern California (COASC), is one of six organizations nationally (and the only one in California) to receive the first-ever Legal Assistance Enhancement Program (LAEP) funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living (ACL). The three-year grant allows us to expand our services to low-income older adult victims of elder abuse in Orange County.
“We are extremely excited to begin implementation on this new grant alongside our partners at COASC,” said PLC Executive Director Ken Babcock, “We also welcome social worker Matilde Navarro to our Elder Law Project, which we began in 2017 with staff attorney Cassandra Martinez.”
Since 2017, PLC has assisted 1,680 individuals over the age of 60 and hundreds of victims of elder abuse. PLC and COASC previously worked through the Financial Abuse Specialist Team (FAST) that COASC created as an interdisciplinary model in Orange County involving criminal justice, legal, banking, accounting and real estate professionals, and government agencies. With this funding, PLC and COASC will grow the partnership beyond their collaboration in the FAST and be better able to prevent elder abuse from happening to low-income Orange County residents and to secure recovery of assets for victims of elder abuse.
ACL awarded a total of $1.25 million in funding last year to help six legal assistance organizations strengthen programs serving older adults in four key areas: outreach, partnerships, intake, and delivery. 431,964 individuals or 13.5% of the Orange County’s population is 65 and older. This population is projected to nearly double by 2040, when almost one in four residents will be 65 or older. In addition to this growth, the older adult population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse.
A recent Legal Services Corporation report found that elders seek legal assistance for less than 20% percent of their legal issues. Gaps in access to legal assistance are particularly pronounced among low-income elders, elders facing Isolation by virtue of geography or language, and elders living in rural, frontier, or tribal communities. Access to quality legal assistance can help improve health and wellness outcomes for older adults by promoting personal and economic independence, preserving access to appropriate services, and supporting the right to live free from (or recover from) the experience of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.
This article was supported, in part, by a grant (No. 311839) from the Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Grantees carrying out projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Therefore, points of view or opinions do not necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living or DHHS policy.