Monday, May 13, 2019

  

Agencies team up for legal services

Whitney Humphrey, right, joined by two of the LSHV staffers

POUGHKEEPSIE – New York State Office of Victim Services has provided funding for an innovative partnership to provide holistic legal services for victims of crime such as domestic abuse, sexual assault, elder abuse, and all other crimes.

Family Services, Inc. and Legal Services of the Hudson Valley are partnering to fill a void that has been recognized for years, according to Whitney Humphrey, director of Development for Family Services. 

Legal Services has entered into a contract with Family Services to employ two attorneys and one paralegal located in an office at the Family Partnership Center to "provide legal services in a ‘wraparound’ concept to help the victims," said Humphrey.

“For many years, victims of crimes have had a variety of needs that aren't just related to their victimization" and this new venture addresses that concern, she said. Humphrey said that clients seeking assistance from the Victims Services office will now have the opportunity to meet with Legal Services in the same building to have subsequent legal issues addressed. 

She used the example of victims of domestic abuse who might have an unrelated immigration issue that also requires legal assistance.  This new partnership will allow for both concerns to be addressed simultaneously.   

Leah Feldman, Family Services vice-president for Community Programs, said "for decades we have had a vision to extend to the victims the choice to participate fully in the legal process, to provide victims with understandable information, to be treated with compassion and respect, to promote healing, validation, and safety through the legal process, for advocates and attorneys to stand together to wrap services around survivors, elevating them through the legal process.”

Rachel Halperin, chief program officer for Legal Services, “the need for direct civil legal assistance and a coordinated community approach to servicing crime victims is overwhelming."  She said "the services provided through our partnership are to be coordinated, streamlined, and victim-centered." 

Elizabeth Cronin, director of the state Office of Victims Services said "As a former special victims prosecutor and in my current role with the Office of Victims Services, I understand the hurdles and roadblocks crime victims often face with civil legal needs such as with housing, immigration, family court, and social services, to name a few.  The grant funding administered in this partnership will ensure crime victims have access to free services from compassionate professionals as part of their road to healing."

 

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