Alexandria Cinney

The Project

Alexandria (Alex) (she/her/hers) will advocate for Black parents and families in Miami to prevent unnecessary removals of children from their homes by providing civil legal services and collaborating with parent-led advocacy groups to empower families.

Removing a child from their family is traumatic and fails to address the hardships facing families, yet it is often the result of child welfare system involvement. In Florida, most children are removed for neglect, a vague legal category that serves as a proxy for poverty and race, which often results in the separation of families for inadequate housing, childcare, and poor nutrition. In Miami, the inflection point occurs at the moment the Department of Children and Families decides to investigate and deems the child to be “at risk,” thereby allowing the child to remain with their family or be removed from their home. In 2019, Black children were 43% of children investigated, 41% of children confirmed as maltreated, and 56% of children removed, though they are only 20% of Miami’s child population.

Her family’s experience with her sister’s adoption, though different from experiences of families entangled in the child welfare system, led to Alex’s exploration of and commitment to supporting and strengthening families.

Fellowship Plans

Alex will prevent the unnecessary removal of children by providing direct representation to parents and caregivers before an investigation has taken place or before a petition for removal has been filed. She will advocate for families confronted with eviction, domestic violence, and public benefits matters, enabling them to continue caring for their children safely within their homes. She will collaborate with local parent-led advocacy groups to amplify community and parent voices within the child welfare system.

Media

Greenberg Traurig Names its 2022 Equal Justice Works Fellows

I have learned through years of working with families who have been torn apart by the child welfare system that separation deeply harms everyone involved and does not address the systemic poverty and racism that led to the removal in the first place. When given proper support, I have seen that children and their families can remain safely together and thrive.

Alexandria Cinney /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Melissa (she/her/hers) will engage in individual and systemic advocacy to expand access and address barriers to Medicaid home health care, enabling more low-income Florida seniors to stay safely at home and out of nursing homes.

Institutionalization should not be the only guaranteed option for older low-income Floridians living with severe disabilities, but this is often the case. Seniors on Medicaid who require long-term services and supports are able to get immediate nursing home care, but if they would like to access home health services as an alternative, they are forced to go through an extremely complicated process just to get on a waitlist with no guarantee of ever receiving these services. The ability to access home health services, especially for Floridians of Color and immigrants, is critical, as racial disparities in nursing homes are profound.

Growing up between the U.S. and Mexico, Melissa saw the differences in the way aging individuals are treated. Her Mexican grandmother lives in a multigenerational home supported by home health care and family, while her American grandparents spent their last years in a nursing home, largely alone. Melissa believes that everyone should be able to access care that allows them to stay safely at home and with their families.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Melissa will engage in individual and systemic advocacy to expand access and address barriers to Medicaid home health care for low-income Florida seniors. She will create Know Your Rights materials and toolkits to support grievances and appeals for Long-Term Care Waiver enrollees and their families, as well as offer trainings to advocates and providers. She will also undertake administrative advocacy to address policy and systems level issues.

No one should be forced to choose between accessing needed healthcare and staying safely at home with their loved ones just because of their socio-economic status.

Melissa Lipnick /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

David dedicated his project to serve elderly victims of abuse in Broward County, Florida. His project aimed to provide holistic civil representation to elderly victims of crime, training on issues around the representation of elder abuse victims, and community education.

During his legal education, it became abundantly clear to David that there was work that needed to be done to protect the most vulnerable among us. David strongly believes in the legal profession’s ability to change the world for the better by helping one client at a time, especially those overlooked by society. Senior citizens are one of the most often abused and marginalized populations, and David felt honored to help them attain justice through his Fellowship.

Fellowship Highlights

David’s project provided protection for seniors from their abusers via injunctions, unlawful detainer, and ejectment actions. Financial struggles are also a result of elder abuse, so his project assisted in maintaining safe and stable living environments in those cases as well.

The Inspiration

The Inspiration

The Inspiration

The Inspiration

The Project

The University of Miami houses the Health and Elder Law Clinic. Rather than limiting my project to one issue, my project focuses on attacking a variety of legal issues that affect the elderly such as healthcare, estate planning, guardianships, probate, SSI/SSDI, housing and immigration. Through community education, healthcare professional trainings and direct representation, I assist Miami-Dade County low-income elderly to overcome a variety of legal issues.

The Inspiration