December 27, 2016: In response to recent statements published on social media by the senior services provider in Clay County, WV, the Board of Directors and staff of West Virginia Senior Legal Aid wishes to reiterate our commitment to serving senior West Virginians of color and reaffirm that we do not condone racism in any form. Using the law to promote equality is an essential part of our mission and any examples and/or perceptions of discrimination on the basis of race in our state deserve our focused attention.
Given that the Older Americans Act, by law, targets its services to those in the greatest economic or social need, with particular attention to low-income minorities, rural residents and those with limited English proficiency, it is imperative that ALL providers within the network offer and provide services without actual or the perception of, discrimination. We do not and will not support any action in the senior services network that is inspired by racism or that sends the message that seniors of color are not welcome and deserving of all the services our network has to offer. Our message is that West Virginia Senior Legal Aid seeks to reach out to and serve with excellence the legal needs of our state’s seniors of color. Our doors are especially open to seniors whose rights have been violated, and we promise to zealously advocate for the individual rights of every senior West Virginian of color who seeks our services. You are important to us.
We welcome your input about how we can do a better job reaching out to and serving seniors of color in our state. We seek to partner with anti-racist groups around the state to enhance our capacity and learn how to deliver the best possible services to minority seniors.
As we enter a new year, the Board of Directors and staff of West Virginia Senior Legal Aid wish to assure ALL West Virginia Seniors that we are here to serve you, regardless of your race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic, educational or disability status AND we uphold your right to receive services from other senior service providers without prejudice.
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Legal Issue Spotting
If you work in aging services you are in a great position to help screen seniors for referral to legal services!
- Your seniors know and trust you
- You have a broad understanding of how legal and related problems impact your seniors
- You can see objectively what your seniors may be in denial about
- You know how to help your seniors effectively connect with helping resources
- Your holistic viewpoint allows you to see the big picture and how legal problems are part of larger complex problems
Skills and knowledge that will help you successfully spot legal issues for effective referral:
- Learn to identify underlying legal issues
- Learn to distinguish between different types of legal issues, different areas of law
- Learn to distinguish between legal information and legal advice
- Learn to distinguish between client’s perception of urgency and actual legal urgency (ie. time limits, procedural deadlines)
A few things you can do to help your senior clients get legal assistance more efficiently and effectively:
- Help client locate, gather, and organize relevant documents
- Help clients get contact information for adverse parties (name, address, phone number of the person/entity on the other side)
- Be careful to identify who is the client, and avoid referring third parties to legal assistance (ie. adult child of senior)
- Help client follow through on the obvious potential solutions (ie. ask for appeal before time is up, follow instructions to dispute a bill)
- Identify particular barriers to client’s access to legal services (ie. hearing deficit may require assistance to communicate by phone)
- Don’t cry wolf, but do intervene with legal services on behalf of client in legal emergency
- Help client understand what to reasonably expect from legal assistance (ie. how our process works, our limitations and priorities)
- Share legal information, don’t give legal advice
Thank you for helping seniors in legal need get connected with legal services!
West Virginia Senior Legal Aid, Inc.
235 High Street #519
Morgantown WV 26505
1.800.229.5068 or 304.296.0082