Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) today announced the expansion of its Multi-Partner Medical Legal Partnership (MLP), a collaboration between the Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s (Penn Law) Interdisciplinary Child Advocacy Clinic (ICAC), to serve the legal needs of patient families receiving care at select CHOP locations.
Supported by a philanthropic gift from law firm Reed Smith, the expanded partnership includes a collaboration with local legal services provider Community Legal Services (CLS) of Philadelphia. As part of the expansion, CLS attorneys, in conjunction with law students from ICAC and attorneys from Reed Smith, will provide pro bono legal services to families receiving care at CHOP.
The MLP addresses a wide range of issues, including problems with utilities; unsafe or uninhabitable housing; guardianship issues; and lack of access to adequate food and public benefits, all of which can interfere with a child’s health and well-being. The expanded program will offer collaborative learning opportunities for medical, social work and legal staff.
“At CHOP, we know that we can deliver better care when we partner with groups committed to addressing family and child well-being outside the healthcare setting,” said Madeline Bell, President and CEO of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “The MLP model has proven to be an effective way to meet the needs of families facing complex health issues combined with other social and physical stressors. As a result of the program’s recent expansion, we look forward to even more opportunities to help these families, and we thank Reed Smith for their generosity in helping us to do so.”
“The goal of this multi-disciplinary collaboration is to improve health outcomes for children and their families, and an integral component of this MLP is the placement of on-site CLS attorneys as part of the triage and treatment team,” said Heather Ritch Rocks, a partner in the Life Sciences Health Industry Group at Reed Smith, who has been instrumental in the establishment of this and other MLPs. “We are pleased to support this innovative model, which is a natural outgrowth of our pro bono commitment and desire to work with our clients to benefit our community.”
Added Debby Freedman, Executive Director of Community Legal Services, “Legal aid improves outcomes for children by ensuring access to essentials such as healthcare, heat and housing. We are thrilled to work with our outstanding partners at CHOP and Reed Smith and to provide patient families with the legal representation and resources to enhance their health and well-being.”
Professor Kara Finck, Director of the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Interdisciplinary Child Advocacy Clinic, added, “We have worked to meet the high demand of legal needs among patients and their families, and now with additional resources in place — including our partnership with CLS — there is enormous potential to help improve the circumstances for even more Philadelphia families and their children.”
CHOP’s Division of Social Work and ICAC began piloting the MLP in 2015; to date, more than 350 families have received legal counseling as part of the program.