Beatrice was born with Down syndrome, a heart defect and is wheelchair-bound. Beatrice’s parents rely on a family member for rides to work. For years, Beatrice’s school district provided a bus for her to attend school as part of her Individual Education Plan.
But, one day, Beatrice’s bus stopped coming. Saying that the bus was too big to turn corners in the neighborhood without running over grass, the district stopped service to Beatrice. For the next eight months, Beatrice stayed home without any education or access to speech, physical and occupational therapies. Though her parents asked the school to help, they were told it was their problem, and that they would be in trouble if they didn’t bring Beatrice to school.
Beatrice’s family contacted Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida. CLSMF filed a complaint, and the Florida Department of Education awarded Beatrice hundreds of hours of compensatory education to make up for her lost school time. The district was also required to develop a new plan to transport students with disabilities. Now, Beatrice has consistent transportation to school.
Bill, an elderly veteran, resides in a VA assisted living facility in South Florida. A social worker at the facility became concerned that the guardian assigned to Bill was bilking Bill’s account for fees. So, the social worker contacted Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County’s Veterans Advocacy Project (VAP).
VAP attorneys obtained records showing that the fees charged were indeed excessive and unreasonable. In one instance, the guardian charged Bill $250 to deliver two packages of Chips Ahoy!® cookies to him.
Though he was taken advantage of, Bill was able to recover $84,000 of his remaining assets with the help of his VAP attorney. The attorney also got the offender permanently barred as an approved guardian for veterans at the VA.
Kevin’s seven-year-old son, Luke, came to live with him when the Department of Children and Families began investigating Luke’s mom, citing a dangerous environment created by her and her boyfriend.
Kevin, a cook at a nursing home, enjoyed having Luke live with him full-time, but it was getting expensive. Not only was he covering all of Luke’s expenses, including medical costs and health insurance, but he was still paying child support to Luke’s mom, who did not want to contribute to Luke’s care.
Kevin reached out to Heart of Florida Legal Aid for help negotiating a fair custody arrangement. In the end, the court ordered Luke’s mom to pay monthly child support and obtain health insurance for Luke. And, the court ordered Kevin to stop paying child support to Luke’s mom. Without the support of a civil legal aid program, Kevin could not have afforded a lawyer to address the situation. With civil legal aid, he can now provide a stable home for his son without going into debt.