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Client Focus: Nicolas

When Nicolas came to the United States as a young boy, he was seeking political asylum, leaving a country that was dangerous for him to live in. He and his father got along fine in the United States. However, when Nicolas turned 19, he aged out of All Kids and was left uninsured. Even worse, shortly after his birthday, he was hospitalized. Luckily prior to his hospitalization, he connected with the Legal Council. We found he was eligible for Medicaid and could even expedite his application because of his asylee status. Sure enough, Nicolas was soon covered by Medicaid and didn’t have to worry about his costly hospital stay; he could simply focus on getting...

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Client Focus: Early Intervention

At age 2, Rashaan was not talking at the level of most children his age. Fortunately, his doctor noticed this delay, diagnosed autism, and ensured that he would receive Early Intervention (EI) speech therapy. EI ends at age 3, but federal law mandates that children in EI be evaluated to transition smoothly into special education services. However, Rashaan’s mother filed multiple requests for the evaluation but failed to get results. Because of the connection between our Chicago Medical-Legal Partnership for Children program and Rashaan’s medical providers, we were informed of this case and many more like it. Program director Amy Zimmerman filed a class complaint with the Illinois State Board of Education, eventually winning the battle and ensuring continuity of care for young children with delays and disabilities. As a direct result of the complaint, the Chicago Public School district...

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Client Focus: Janae and William

When Janae gave birth to William, things didn’t go exactly as planned. William was born premature and needed a hernia surgery, but for some reason, Janae could not get him a medical card to pay for the hospital bills. She was also having trouble getting other public benefits to supplement her income. Through the help of her community health worker, Janae and William were referred to the Legal Council. After many phone calls, meetings, and much research, our legal staff discovered that because Janae was adopted, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services was causing a roadblock with Medicaid and other public benefits. We helped Janae fill out paperwork, and through our combined efforts, Janae  was able to get a medical card, food stamps, and additional income through Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). While Janae works hard at...

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Client Focus: Jane

Being a 12 year old girl isn’t always easy. For Jane, being 12 is more complicated than most. When she suffered from a mental health crisis in the middle of the school year, Jane was struggling not only with her health but with bullying at her school. Any child would find it hard to cope with this combination, and Jane was no exception. For months, she was not well enough to go to school. Even once she mentally recovered, she refused to go to school for fear of being bullied. When her mother tried to get the school to help transfer Jane to a more appropriate setting, the school insisted Jane wasn’t currently enrolled because she had missed too many days. Unenrollment due to absences is in direct violation of school policy, but Jane’s mother couldn’t get any help...

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Client Focus: Shaneea

A young mother with a 4-month-old baby, Shaneea had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and marijuana abuse when her treating psychiatrist at an outreach partner, Fantus Clinic, referred her to the Homeless Project of the Legal Council for Health Justice. Like many of our clients, Shaneea suffered severe neglect and abuse as a young child, which triggered her entry into the child welfare system. She left the system as a teenager after her foster father punched her in the face.   Although a victim of significant childhood trauma, Shaneea succeeded in getting her GED and obtaining a job. Unfortunately, she was often agitated at work, and was observed responding to the voices in her head, which led to her dismissal and, ultimately, homelessness. Shaneea applied for disability benefits, but her previous educational and job success blocked her case and she...

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Trauma-informed legal care

A young mother with a 4-month-old baby, Shania had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and marijuana abuse when her treating psychiatrist at an outreach partner, Fantus Clinic, referred her to the Homeless Outreach Project of the Legal Council for Health Justice. Like many of our clients, Shania suffered severe neglect and abuse as a young child, which triggered her entry into the child welfare system

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