Family Advocates of Central Massachusetts
Family Advocates of Central Massachusetts (FACM) improves family health through strong, coordinated, and collaborative advocacy with health care providers. FACM is a medical-legal partnership between Community Legal Aid and University of Massachusetts Medical School, UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center, the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center and Family Health Center. For a graphic illustration of FACM's origins, methods, and community impact, please click here.
FACM’s advocacy is focused on enhancing financial security, increasing access to health care and educational services, ensuring housing stability, and providing safety and dignity for victims of domestic violence and immigrants escaping abuse and exploitation.
Families often ask their healthcare providers for help with issues that cannot be resolved in an exam room or with a prescription. Our attorneys train our provider partners to screen for issues affecting their patients that can be remedied through the justice system. When the providers refer patients to CLA, our attorneys provide legal advocacy to address these issues, thereby reducing or eliminating the negative social determinants of health. The collaboration effectively leverages the resources of the medical profession and the legal profession.
The Honorable Harry Zarrow Homeless Advocacy Outreach Project
The Honorable Harry Zarrow Homeless Advocacy Project is a collaboration of the Worcester County Bar Association’s Committee on Services to the Poor & Homeless and CLA. The Zarrow Project seeks to reduce or prevent homelessness by providing legal assistance to those who are homeless or in imminent danger of becoming so. By identifying and providing assistance on the legal issues encountered by homeless and at-risk individuals, the Project alleviates the factors contributing to homelessness. Private attorneys volunteering with the Project can serve homeless shelters or other service providers by having a regular visiting schedule at the agency to interview clients with civil legal matters, by being on call to assist when a client has a legal need, or by providing pro bono representation to clients. The Zarrow Fellow at CLA coordinates and provides support to the volunteer attorneys who provide pro bono legal help, and also provides legal representation to Project clients.
Uncontested Divorce Project
The Uncontested Divorce Project (UDP) provides representation and assistance for low-income individuals seeking simple divorces in Worcester County. The project handles cases where there is no dispute regarding visitation, custody, or property.
Worcester Fair Housing Project
The Worcester Fair Housing Project (WFHP), a joint project between CLA and the City of Worcester, provides advice and representation to anyone in Worcester County who has been the victim of housing discrimination. The WFHP has assisted clients in a range of discrimination claims including racial harassment, refusal to rent due to family status, refusal to remove lead paint, interference with housing subsidies, and discrimination based on disability. In addition to litigation, the WFHP conducts education workshops on fair housing laws for tenant groups, social service providers, landlords and other community members. The WFHP also trains civil rights investigators to “test” whether housing discrimination is occurring in the county, to support litigation or promote equitable settlements for project clients.
Medicare Advocacy Project
The Medicare Advocacy Project (MAP) is devoted to assisting both elderly and disabled people who may have been wrongfully denied Medicare. MAP will provide help by giving legal assistance to Massachusetts Medicare beneficiaries whether they are enrolled in traditional Medicare or in a Medicare Advantage Plan. Each year, elders and persons with disabilities who have been wrongfully denied Medicare coverage turn to MAP for assistance. In some cases, people are denied coverage for physicians’ services, durable medical equipment, home health care, or skilled nursing facility care. In other cases, they are forced to leave the hospital prematurely, are denied prior approvals by their managed care plans, or are made to wait for coverage to begin under threat of a premium penalty. In still other cases, people turn to MAP to help them navigate the complex prescription drug benefit. In addition to free legal representation, MAP offers comprehensive and up-to-date education on Medicare. MAP advocates speak to public groups and train staff of social service agencies, long-term care facilities, and home health agencies. MAP covers legal services agencies across the state. For service in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, or Worcester County, please contact Community Legal Aid. For service in other counties, please contact the MAP headquarters at Greater Boston Legal Services at 800-323-3205.