What We Do
The Advocacy Center has a multi-disciplinary staff of lawyers, paralegals, client advocates and support staff who provide the following services:
1. Legal Representation- The Advocacy Center represents clients in areas of the law designated as priorities by its Board of Directors. Legal representation includes counseling, advice, research, negotiation, administrative review, administrative hearing, state office review, litigation and class action. If a person needs legal representation in a non-priority area, the staff can make referrals to other sources of legal representation. (Link to Ways We Help)
2. Advocacy Assistance (non-legal) - Many persons with disabilities seek Advocacy Center's help by making a phone call to our office and speaking with Intake Staff (Link to Intake Information). However, we know that it is not always easy to make that call. People in residential facilities, such as group homes, nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals, may not feel safe in calling us, or may not be able to verbalize their needs. So we have Ombudsmen who visit group homes, and Client Advocates who visit psychiatric hospitals, child residential facilities and developmental centers. Ombudsmen and Client Advocates help solve problems, make complaints and achieve goals.
3. Information and Referral - The Advocacy Center knows that it is difficult to identify the right resource for each person's needs. Staff help people to access services by providing information about resources, and making referrals to legal, social, health, education, employment, and other related services.
4. Systems Advocacy - The Advocacy Center works to improve systems that are used by people who are elderly and/or have disabilities, including education, health, legal, social services, transportation, and vocational systems. Most of our systems advocacy work is carried out by teams of several staff who meet as needed to achieve a system enhancing objective. Occasionally a team will include persons from outside the agency. Other systems advocacy work may consist of individual Advocacy Center staff participating in task forces outside the Advocacy Center.
5. Education and Training - The Advocacy Center educates others about the legal rights of persons who are elderly and persons who have disabilities, through presentations to groups, participation on committees and task forces, media campaigns, technical assistance flyers, and educational booklets. Training offered by the Advocacy Center may be in response to requests from specific groups; or may be set up by the Advocacy Center in response to needs identified by the staff.
6. Empowerment - The Advocacy Center helps to give clients the skills and knowledge to act on their own behalf.
7. Publications - The Advocacy Center provides a variety of booklets, reports, flyers, and other resources pertaining to persons 60 years or older and persons with disabilities. Special reports are published from time to time and usually focus on a specific issue or problem. An example is the 2003 report, Mental Health Rehabilitation Services: "Rehabilitation" or a "Get Rich Quick Scheme?" that looks at problems with Louisiana's mental health rehabilitation program. Link to Advocacy Center Publications.
8. Outreach- The Advocacy Center often responds to community groups who ask for someone to talk to them about its work. Outreach includes the visits to residential facilities by ombudsmen and client advocates and various issues affecting people with disabilities.