Beaumont Forms Legal Aid for Children Program

9/24/2009

Beaumont Hospitals has formed a new Legal Aid for Children program, a medical and legal collaboration to provide free legal services to improve the health and welfare of low-income children and their families served by Beaumont.

The Legal Aid for Children program is on-site at the Beaumont Children's Hospital in Royal Oak with office hours on Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons in Suite 220 of the Medical Office Building. Legal services are provided through a partnership with the Legal Aid and Defender Association Inc. Attorneys will handle issues that include: income support (SSI/SSD), health insurance, educational assistance, child support and domestic violence, housing issues and food stamps.

Those eligible for legal services include pediatric patients or a household family member of a pediatric patient of the Beaumont Children's Hospital who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. A referral from Beaumont's Social Work department is also required, with confidential screening and interview processes to determine eligibility for certain types of service. More information is available by calling 248-898-7595.

"We are thrilled to be partnering with the Legal Aid and Defender Association and appreciate the donor support that makes it possible," says Mary Smyth, M.D., Beaumont pediatrician and physician champion for the Legal Aid for Children program. "We see a lot of children in our clinics who will benefit from having this wonderful service."

Michele Hall-Edwards, deputy chief counsel of the civil law group at the Legal Aid and Defender Association, adds: "Already, we have seen parents who need to apply for disability benefits for their children and we have worked with some cancer patients who have missed quite a bit of school and need help ensuring that their education continues as they receive treatments. As word gets out, we expect to see a lot more families."

The Legal Aid for Children founding sponsors include: Legal Services Corporation, the Oakland County Bar Foundation, United Way, Children's Miracle Network, American Academy of Pediatrics CATCH program and the Michigan State Bar Foundation.

The program brings together health care professionals and lawyers to ensure children's basic needs for food, housing, education, health care and safety are met. Not all health issues are medical as Karen Luther, senior corporate counsel in Legal Affairs at Beaumont, points out, "Families shouldn't have to choose between buying medicine for their children or paying the heating bill or buying groceries."

Legal Aid and Defender Association Inc. is the largest provider of free legal services to low and moderate-income people in Michigan and one of the largest in the nation. The group handles more than 11,800 cases per year. A Michigan nonprofit corporation, its service area comprises Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.

The Beaumont Children's Hospital provides comprehensive medical services for children up to age 21. From specialized care for premature babies through the entire range of pediatric subspecialty care, Beaumont's doctors have the expertise and experience to help parents give their children the right start to a healthy life. Pediatric care can include surgery; immunizations; well child care; allergy testing; and care for children with learning disabilities, heart disease, blood disorders and cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, asthma, diabetes, genetic disorders, infections and emergency needs.

Find out more about services of the Beaumont Children's Hospital's Legal Aid for Children program by visiting http://www.beaumontchildrenshospital.com/legal-aid.

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