I was a special education teacher before I became an attorney. My personal experiences in this field opened my eyes early on to the reality that there is a critical need for advocates in all areas of our community. I was moved by a particular case involving a child with special needs who had been placed in a detention center where he was denied the special education services he needed. He had no voice, no resources, and no hope. My opportunity to advocate for this child, and improve his situation, led me on the path I so passionately walk today. I hope you will walk with me.
There’s no other way to say it. We have an access to justice crisis in Massachusetts. As the BBA’s Task Force on Civil Legal Aid stated, nearly two-thirds of people who seek civil legal aid are turned away because the organizations that provide free legal services don’t have the resources to help. That’s astonishing.
Who are these people being turned away? They are people fighting to protect their home and family from wrongful evictions or foreclosures. They are people who need to escape domestic abuse. They are parents trying to get special education services for their child.
As a former special education teacher and former president of Greater Boston Legal Services, I know firsthand how inadequate legal aid funding hurts honest, hard-working people. That’s why on Thursday, January 29th, you’ll find me – along with many others – participating in Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. I plan to visit my state representative and senator, and tell them both that a turn-away rate of 64% has to change.
You might think, “But there’s a fiscal crisis, right? How can we call for a funding increase now?” Here’s something not many people may know: investing in civil legal aid pays for itself, as this week’s Issue Spot explains in detail.
Have you found a reason why you should Walk to the Hill? Meet up with other BBA Members at our 16 Beacon Street office before the event.
I hope to see you there!