Stories about: Children’s Government Relations.

Children’s legal eagles

As an attorney, Kristin Small, Esq., specializes in cases where the legal and health care needs of her clients cross paths. She recently worked with the parents of a 5-year-old child with autism.

The father had lost his job and the mother couldn’t work because of the time she needed to devote to her son’s care. Though the Social Security Administration (SSA) agreed that their son qualified for benefits medically, the family was deemed ineligible because they had “too many resources.” With both parents out of work and no means of income, legal counsel was the last option they thought was available to them.

Their pediatrician referred them to Small, a staff attorney for the Medical Legal Partnership | Boston (MLP) and liaison to Children’s for the newest MLP site in the Children’s Hospital Primary Care Center (CHPCC). Providing care for more than 13,000 children—65 percent of whom are covered by Medicaid—the CHPCC is well suited to host the MLP at CHB. “Our medical and social work staff already spend a lot of time advocating for our patients,” says Joanne Cox, MD, medical director for the CHPCC. “They’re writing letters to utility companies, helping families access food stamps and communicating with landlords about poor housing conditions.” Chronic illnesses such as asthma, cerebral palsy and diabetes are often exacerbated by environmental factors like lack of food, housing, education and employment. A child my be falling behind in school due to chronic illness, or a family may be forced to choose between medicine and food. By teaming with the MLP, the CHPCC can now offer their patients direct access to legal information and support to help them make sure their needs are being met.

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