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May 11, 2012

This Mother’s Day Celebrate all “Moms”

by PBUnitedWay

“There is an instinct in a woman to love most her own child – and an instinct to make any child who needs her love, her own.” – Robert Brault

The Relative Caregivers Project is just one program the Town of Palm Beach United Way currently funds at Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County. This project provides legal advice and representation to adult caregivers who are caretakers for relative minor children (grandchildren, nephews, nieces). The services provided are designed to assist with the unique legal problems faced by relative caregivers raising minor children such as temporary legal custody, adoption, guardian advocacy, access to public benefits and health care, housing and children’s educational needs. The following story helps show how Legal Aid Society helped a grandmother taking care of her three grandchildren.

A maternal grandmother came to the Relative Caregivers Project at Legal Aid Society seeking help because she was taking care of her three grandchildren. The mother and three fathers were all incarcerated. The children were 6, 13 and 14. She had no legal authority for school, medical or housing issues.

The grandmother was working the night shift at her job and was leaving the children home alone from 7pm – 3am. The Department of Children and Families came to her and said that she couldn’t leave them alone at night. The grandmother became frightened and quit her job, leaving her with no income. She couldn’t pay her rent and was on the verge of eviction.

We immediately referred her to the housing department at Legal Aid and they helped her to get a 30 day continuance on the eviction. At the same time we referred her to Families First who helped her secure new housing. We then referred her to Family Central for an after-school care scholarship for the 6-year-old child.

At the same time we began to secure her authority by getting her temporary legal custody of the children, so that she would be able to make school, medical and housing decisions. Since she was now stable in housing, child care and legal custody she began working at a local shoe store part time. Because of her hard work, it soon became a full-time position and she was recently promoted to manager.

She is confident that her grandchildren will be well taken care of until their mother is released and able to the join the family. This happy ending would not be possible if not for the help of the Town of Palm Beach United Way as one of our funders.

The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County is committed to providing high-quality civil legal advice, representation and education to the disadvantaged of Palm Beach County so as to protect their personal safety, enhance their opportunities and living conditions and promote self-sufficiency. Our work helps our clients deal with many of life’s most basic needs: a safe home, enough food to eat, a quality education, and protection against exploitation and discrimination.

For more information on Legal Aid Society and other Town of Palm Beach United Way member agencies please visit www.palmbeachunitedway.org.

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