Health, Education and Legal assistance Project:
A Medical-Legal Partnership (HELP: MLP)

This unique partnership between the foundation’s Healthy Start and Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) and Widener University Delaware Law School was established in the fall of 2010 to connect clients of these programs to free legal services for unmet civil needs.

Civil lawyers who are embedded in the programs’ offices provide direct legal representation, systemic advocacy, and training to support clients, staff, and the community. This makes the foundation’s NFP and Healthy Start programs among a select few in the nation to receive funding for family advocacy and to integrate MLP lawyers into their services.

Attorneys experienced and trained in poverty law work as a part of the case management, care coordination, and nurse-home visiting teams to address complex civil challenges of program participants, working together with local agencies and other third-party entities. The MLP attorneys provide timely and consistent legal care for participating families confronting issues, such as:

  • Income insecurity
  • Food insecurity
  • Unsafe or inadequate housing
  • Inadequate or lack of health insurance coverage
  • Utility access issues
  • Unfair or deceptive practices against consumers
  • Access to resources for victims of domestic violence

The MLP was created in response to a social and legal needs assessment administered in Chester by Widener University Delaware Law School. The assessment showed that many families suffered from unmet social and legal needs and did not have access to attorneys and other advocates. Evaluations show that after receiving services from MLP, families experience significantly decreased levels of stress, increased self-efficacy, and high levels of satisfaction.

For more information about MLP, please contact Laura Handel, Esq., Managing Attorney.

Learn more about how Healthy Start and the Nurse-Family Partnership are improving maternal and children’s health care.

See related Delaware County Daily Times article.