Family Preservation Project

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The Family Preservation Project (FPP) provides civil legal aid to families experiencing legal issues with the Department of Children and Families (DCF), with the goals of keeping families together and avoiding the removal of children by DCF. Across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, low-income families and families of color have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and will likely continue to suffer long term financial and health effects of the pandemic. These stressors put families at greater risk of child welfare involvement. The FPP seeks to stabilize at-risk families, particularly in communities with substantial low-income populations of color, through legal and supportive services. Services by the FPP are provided by advocacy teams consisting of attorneys, social workers, and parent advocates. Through these multidisciplinary interventions, the FPP seeks to avoid compounding and continuing trauma to families and communities in this time of need. 


Legal Services Programs Involved 

Four legal services programs in Massachusetts provide direct services as part of the FPP:

  1. South Coastal Counties Legal Services, Inc. (SCCLS) is a private, non-profit law firm which provides free legal help in priority civil matters to low income families. Advocates provide quality legal assistance to eligible clients in high priority civil cases, while offering educational programming to the community and participating in state wide access to justice efforts through service on task forces organized around substantive and service delivery issues.
  2. Northeast Legal Aid (NLA), through its board, management, and staff, helps low-income and elderly people of Northeast Massachusetts obtain justice and empowerment through skillful, creative, and persistent advocacy for systemic change and high-quality individual representation.  NLA offers free civil legal services to low income and elderly individuals and families in northeast Massachusetts. NLA's legal services include everything from community legal education and counsel and advice, to full representation in complex litigation. 
  3. Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) attorneys and paralegals provide critical legal advice and representation to low-income individuals. In addition, thousands of other poor families and individuals benefit from the systemic advocacy GBLS carries out on behalf of its clients.
  4. Community Legal Aid (CLA) specializes in assisting tenants threatened with eviction or the loss of a rent subsidy; homeless families trying to access shelter; individuals and families trying to access public benefits programs and unemployment compensation; domestic violence victims in family law matters; students in need of services to help them thrive in school; elders facing threats to their autonomy, independence, or safety; and persons seeking help with a civil legal problem connected to the fact that they are a victim of a crime. CLA is the free civil legal aid provider for residents of the five counties of Central and Western Massachusetts (Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester).

Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI) coordinates and provides technical support and training for the FPP.  MLRI is a legal services organization that provides statewide advocacy and leadership in advancing laws, policies, and practices that secure economic, racial, and social justice for low-income people and communities. MLRI serves as the poverty law support center for the Massachusetts civil legal aid delivery system and advocacy community. MLRI advocates provide expertise and support to local legal aid programs, social service, health care and human service providers, and community organizations that serve low income people throughout the state.  Children's Law Center of Massachusetts is working with MLRI on the coordination and technical support and training for the FPP.  Created in 1977, CLCM is a legal advocacy and resource center for low-income children, from newborn to 22 years with a focus on education, child welfare, immigration, juvenile justice, and mental health. CLCM works to promote and secure equal justice and to maximize opportunity for low-income children and youth by providing quality, culturally sensitive advocacy and legal services.    


If you are looking for an advocate to help with an open DCF case, click here to find an FPP program that may be able to help you.

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