2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Jessica Kleinman

Jessica Kleinman

Name of Host Organization: Children’s Law Center
City, State: Washington, District of Columbia
Issue area: Health Care/Medical-Legal Partnership, Children/Youth
Sponsors: Johnson & Johnson; Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP

The Project

Jessica provided legal services, outreach, and advocacy in the areas of housing, education, and access to healthcare to low-income families in Washington, D.C. (DC) who are confronting health-harming legal barriers to managing their children’s asthma. This fellowship extends Children’s Law Center’s (CLC) existing medical-legal partnership (MLP) with Children’s National Health System’s IMPACT DC, Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Health Care and Unity Health Care Minnesota Avenue Clinic by focusing on asthma.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
One in five children living in DC has asthma, a rate substantially higher than any state in the nation. Additionally, children living in poverty are at greater risk of acute and severe asthma attacks that lead to more emergency room (ER) visits, hospitalizations and death. In large part this risk is due to substandard housing, lack of access to critical preventive health care, and schools who are not providing adequate supports. Health providers are the first responders for children with asthma, and as such are best positioned to screen for non-medical issues that are impacting a child’s health. Ensuring that a lawyer is part of the treatment team for low-income families strengthens the team’s capacity to impact a child’s health. Embedding legal services within the clinical intervention team helps to ensure children are not denied access to necessary medications, healthy housing and accommodations in school.
Fellowship Highlights: 
In the past two years, Jessica has:
• Represented and advocated for families of children with severe asthma to ensure that the children can access their education, live in a safe home and to help eliminate other barriers to health
• Successfully negotiated for repairs and for clients to move to new homes with no housing code violations
• Developed training materials and conducted training for medical and community partners and families
• Participated in a working group which successfully advocated for ground-breaking mold legislation in DC
• Began development of an asthma advocacy toolkit that will provide useful information for families in DC to navigate legal barriers to managing their children’s asthma
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Jessica plans to:
• Continue to provide legal services, outreach and advocacy for families of children with asthma seeking legal assistance as a Staff Attorney at CLC
• Finalize and disseminate an asthma advocacy toolkit
• Work on-site at a medical partner clinic, conduct trainings and provide 1:1 consultation with clinicians

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