Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (LAWO) is a non-profit regional law firm that provide high quality legal assistance in civil matters to help eligible low-income individuals and groups in western Ohio achieve self reliance, and equal justice and economic opportunity.
Supporting Ohio's Grandfamilies
As communities grapple with strategies to address the challenges of the opioid crisis, the nation’s grandparents are stepping up and stepping in to care for the children of the epidemic. (Grandparents Are Raising the Children of the Opioid Crisis, Aging Today, Jaia Peterson Lent, April 9, 2018).
Currently, opioid addiction and substance abuse are the primary reasons for the removal of children and the creation of “grandfamilies”. Through its older adult advocacy efforts, Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (LAWO) has identified several critical needs of grandparents raising grandchildren. Among the most significant is the ability to make decisions about their education, their healthcare, and other essential needs. Access to legal assistance and support services for these grandparents is particularly challenging in Ohio’s rural counties where there are far fewer resources available to grandparents raising grandchildren.
LAWO launched the Grandfamily Legal Assistance Project in 2019. The Project, a pilot rural collective impact service delivery model, focuses on the unique issues facing grandparents raising the children of the opioid epidemic in Ohio’s rural counties.
Project staff have connected with juvenile courts and justice community partners, built critical relationships, developed legal information and helpful resource materials, and created a referral process for legal representation. Many older adults, as well as the children in their care, have already benefitted significantly from the assistance provided through the project.