Legal Aid Society Receives $400,000 Grant for Victims of Crime Services Assessment

Grant One of Only Six Awarded Across the Country

The Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services has received a highly competitive $400,000 grant from the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice to identify gaps in existing pro bono legal services for crime victims and develop a collaborative model among agencies to provide services. It is one of only six grants awarded to agencies nationwide.

The FY2012 Wraparound Victim Legal Assistance Network Demonstration Project grant will develop a comprehensive, holistic model for a wraparound pro bono legal assistance network that offers a wide range of legal assistance services victims need in the wake of their victimization. Services will include civil legal assistance, such as family, custody and dependency, tribal, employment, and administrative issues related to the victimization; enforcement of victims’ rights in criminal proceedings; assistance for victims of identity theft and financial fraud; and immigration assistance for human trafficking victims and battered immigrant women.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant,” said Kendra Reinshagen, Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society. “Our strong pro bono legal services program, history of providing services to victims of crimes such as domestic violence and elder abuse, and our collaborative approach to providing services, along with the wide range of human services offered by Metropolitan Family Services make us uniquely qualified to administer this grant program. And the fact that only six grants were awarded across the country is a testament to our continued commitment to making access to legal services available to those who need it most.”

Over the next 15 months, the Legal Aid Society will partner with legal assistance providers, victim advocates, and leaders in the civil and criminal justice system to build and coordinate the victim’s legal assistance network. Project objectives will focus on developing and conducting a needs assessment in Cook County, which has demonstrated higher rates of victimization than other areas in Illinois, and designing a detailed collaborative model that includes policies, procedures, and protocols for the network of service providers. While there have been legal needs assessments in Illinois and in Cook County, there have been none which focused on the legal needs of victims of crime. At the end of the grant period, the six programs will have the opportunity to receive additional funding to implement their models and ensure victims of crime are able to have all of their needs met.

The Legal Aid Society has secured Paul A. Schewe, Ph.D, and Heather J. Risser, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Interdisciplinary Center for Research on Violence as external researchers.