(The pdf for the issue in which this article appears is available for download: Bifocal, Vol. 38, Issue 2.)
The Commission on Law and Aging has received funding under the Older Americans Act to support the development and delivery of legal assistance to persons age 60 and over with the greatest economic or social needs for over 25 years. Over the years, the focus of this work has shifted several times and this year saw the shift from resource development under the National Legal Resource Center (NLRC) to training, materials, and case consultation for the National Center on Law and Elder Rights (NCLER). The change is much greater than the change in name; it is a major change in the structure of the Center.
Since 2008 the Commission had received funding for its role as part of the National Legal Resource Center; our focus has been on resource development and coordination, and web site maintenance. We were one of five partners in this project, with each partner having a distinct function. Over the years it became obvious that there were flaws in this model. While each partner was funded to perform a particular function, it became apparent that what would be more effective would be for each partner to focus on an area of substantive expertise. In addition, the NLRC was a virtual center, having no host organization, resulting in the work being done in the name of each grantee and not in the name of the project. The result was that every grantee was developing and carrying out an agenda of case consultation, training, resource development, and technical assistance, despite being funded in only one of these disciplines. The work also lacked a uniform brand, making it difficult to show how the work of the NLRC was distinct from the work of the host organizations. As a result, the decision was made to end that project at the end of the funding term on June 30, 2016.
In September of 2016, the Administration for Community Living issued a contract for a new project known as the National Center on Law and Elder Rights. The contract was awarded to Justice in Aging, who in turn sub-contracted with the Commission to provide training, materials development, and case consultation (expert advice to professionals in law and aging) in our areas of substantive expertise. In collaboration with NCLER leadership, a two-part training agenda is being developed. In the first year, we are responsible for developing and delivering two basics programs and two advanced (or hot topics) programs. Written materials are being developed for each program. The funding also provides staff time for development of the National Aging and Law Conference and speaking at select national programs as requested by NCLER leadership. In addition, we are funded to provide about 250 hours of expert advice to professionals in law and aging on issues within our areas of expertise. All of this work will be branded and delivered in the name of the NCLER.
The NCLER contract is renewable for up to five years. Unfortunately, the funding level for our subcontract on the NCLER is about half of the amount of our funding for the NLRC.
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