Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $400,000)
Florida Legal Services (FLS) is proposing a new two-year project to expand and enhance access to victim-centered, trauma-informed, linguistically and culturally appropriate civil legal assistance to LEP Haitian crime victims. This is a population that is rapidly growing in Florida and is particularly vulnerable as a result of cultural and linguistic barriers to crimes such as human trafficking, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and theft/fraud. It is also critically underserved by the state’s victim services and legal services providers. The FLS project will increase the civil legal assistance available to these victims that can help them enforce legal protections and achieve physical safety, independence, empowerment and self-sufficiency, and more positive outcomes.
Through the project, FLS will also develop and strengthen relationships and partnerships with existing Haitian community organizations and victim services and legal services providers throughout the state. FLS will conduct outreach to these organizations to orient them to the project and to encourage the provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate assistance. FLS will also provide training for service providers on cultural competency and providing trauma-informed assistance to this population. To increase access for LEP Haitian survivors, FLS will catalog the linguistic capabilities of providers and the services provided throughout the state, and develop a referral matrix to facilitate efficient and effective referrals. The referral matrix will be made available to other interested providers.
The project will be staffed by a full-time Project Attorney and part-time Supervising Attorney, both currently on staff at FLS, who were raised in Haitian farmworker communities in Florida and speak fluent Haitian Creole. The Project Attorney has spent the past two years developing a Medical-Legal Partnership in Central Florida that serves Haitian farmworkers, and has experience handling a variety of legal issues including immigration, public benefits, family law, housing, and consumer matters. The Supervising Attorney, who will oversee the project, has over 10 years’ experience in providing trauma-informed legal assistance to victims of domestic violence.
The project will serve LEP Haitian crime victims statewide through both telephonic legal assistance and representation in court and administrative hearings on legal matters arising out of the victimization, such as injunctions for protection, family law, immigration, housing, public benefits, and consumer matters. As a result of their capacity-building and partnership activities, FLS expects to provide legal assistance to at least 100 LEP Haitian crime victims, and achieve successful outcomes in at least 60% of cases resolved.
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