Legal Services Survey In Field Now to Inform Legal Devel Guidelines

May 27, 2014

In the Works: Guidelines for States Wishing to Implement Uniform Statewide Reporting on OAA Title III B Legal Services

n4a is an active participant in an exciting new initiative to create guidelines for States wishing to develop, or revise current, statewide reporting systems for Older Americans Act (OAA) Title III B legal services. The project’s goal is to facilitate the gathering and utilization of statewide reporting data to “tell the story” of Title III B legal services and its impact on the well being of the nation’s most vulnerable elders. The one-year project is funded by the Borchard Center on Law and Aging and administered by The Center for Social Gerontology (TCSG). Principal investigators are Laurie Lisi, Consulting Attorney to TCSG and Penny Hommel, Co-Director of TCSG.

TCSG and n4a are hoping that Area Agencies on Aging will help champion this important undertaking! The Guidelines will make recommendations about: (1) the process for developing statewide reporting, calling for active participation of Area Agencies on Aging, State Units on Aging (SUAs), and Title III B legal services providers; (2) data collection methods and types of data to be gathered, and (3) suggestions for using the information/data to help build support and understanding of the critical importance of legal services.

The goal for statewide reporting systems created under the Guidelines is to gather complete and consistent information that: (1) Captures impact/performance outcomes to demonstrate what legal assistance is actually achieving for vulnerable elders; (2) Highlights the extent to which legal assistance programs are effectively targeting and reaching elders with the greatest social and economic need and are handling priority legal issues; (3) Improves the ability to monitor services; and (4) Enhances collaboration between state and area agencies and legal providers.

To design Guidelines that reflect the wide variety of legal services systems operating within individual states, the project will begin by collecting information on current state legal services reporting practices, working with SUA Directors to survey their State Legal Services Developers. The survey (in the field now!) will identify best practices in statewide reporting systems and barriers to the development or implementation of statewide reporting. The project aims to create flexible guidelines to fit the unique legal services systems in each state. It is hoped that State Guidelines will serve as the foundation for a national system of reporting in the future.

n4a’s representative to the project’s National Advisory Committee is Amy Gotwals, Chief, Public Policy and External Affairs. The project staff are working closely with Amy to solicit AAA input on Guidelines and welcome any and all suggestions by AAAs. So if you have input or ideas, please send them to Amy Gotwals at n4a in June.