Forging Medical-Legal Partnerships to Benefit Children in Philadelphia's Community Health Centers

Emerging Leader Fellow: Maggie Eisen, 2012-2013

The idea that there are legal solutions to many of the social problems that exacerbate health disparities is not new; however, the integration of legal services in community health centers (CHCs) in Philadelphia is new. The urgency to explore the Medical Legal Partnership (MLP) model as a way to enhance the medical care provided to vulnerable populations has prompted the Health Federation of Philadelphia (HFP) to pursue the development of a plan for the best approach to integrating MLPs within pediatric care in Philadelphia's community health care system.

In collaboration with local public agencies and non-profit legal service organizations, Maggie Eisen will assist HFP in developing a plan to pilot an MLP tailored specifically to the needs of the children and families that receive primary medical care in the City’s community health centers. To accomplish this task, she will: a) conduct an assessment of the types and volume of unmet legal needs among pediatric patients in CHCs; b) gather information about best practices and lessons learned from MLP endeavors elsewhere; c) explore the CHC culture and operational flow to identify assets and barriers to MLP integration and strategies to maximize feasibility; d) develop the criteria for selection of a pilot site, identify a legal services provider, and create a budget for the pilot; e) secure buy-in from the necessary stakeholders; f) identify potential funding sources to establish program sustainability; and g) create an operational plan for a pilot MLP and a report containing recommendations for bringing a Philadelphia CHC-based, pediatric-relevant MLP model to scale.