The Pediatric Advocacy Initiative is important because there are many low-income people who are not aware that they have a problem that could be solved or made better by legal intervention, or they don't have the time or resources to seek out a lawyer. But they do receive health care. When doctors, social workers and nurses are trained to identify legal issues, they can refer the patient-families to us, and it makes accessing legal services much easier.
–Debra Chopp, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law, Pediatric Advocacy Initiative
FAQs About the PAI
What Kinds of Cases Do We Take?
The Pediatric Advocacy Initiative specializes in issues that impact the health of patients, such as:
- Public benefits (food stamps, FIA/cash assistance, childcare benefits, Medicaid, SSI)
- Education (denial of special education services, disciplinary issues, expulsion)
- Housing (Section 8, HUD, eviction, poor housing conditions, utility problems)
- Family law (domestic violence, child custody, child support orders, guardianship)
What Can Lawyers Do to Improve Health?
Preserving a parent's ability to put food on the table means that children have a better chance of staying healthy. About 23 percent of our cases address income and food security, often by representing clients whose rights have been violated by a state agency administering public benefits, such as food stamps or cash assistance.
Federal and state law requires that public schools provide disabled students with a free and appropriate education. About 11 percent of our cases involve special education—advising families about their educational rights, advocating informally with school districts, and, when necessary, representing families during administrative hearings to obtain judicial enforcement of education rights.
Securing safe and stable housing means that children are less likely to suffer injuries or experience complications from chronic diseases like asthma. Attorneys help families to secure safe and stable housing by advocating with landlords—either informally or through formal channels such as the courts or government agencies. Approximately 11 percent of our cases involve housing advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels.
When attorneys represent parents and obtain just and equitable results in a divorce, custody, or child support action, or represent survivors of domestic violence and obtain personal protection orders, they help preserve family safety, cohesiveness and dignity. Family law represents about 47 percent of our cases.