Mary Claire Hyatt

  • Hosted by Legal Aid of Arkansas
  • Sponsored by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Walmart, Inc.
  • Service location Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Law school University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Education/Special Education
  • Fellowship class year 2015
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Mary Claire provided education, advocacy, and referrals to patients with unmet special education needs and facilitated special education training for healthcare providers in order to increase screening, provider advocacy, and Medical-Legal Partnership referrals.

In the 2012-2013 school year, there were nearly 80,000 students in Arkansas with special education needs. Those students represent almost 15% of the Arkansas public school system. There are many state and federal laws that create rights, enforcement procedures, and responsibilities of educational institutions. Low-income special education students are particularly vulnerable to mistreatment or illegal treatment because of the lack of education about their legal rights and remedies and access to legal services. Despite the prevalence of legal needs, medical providers face a number of barriers to screening and referral. Providers are not accustomed to asking social and economic questions outside of the presenting medical problem and experience time pressures that limit their ability to screen. Healthcare providers need to be educated to look for and address legal needs of their patients.

Mary Claire was the right person for the project because:

  • She worked in multiple areas of juvenile law before and during law school, and has experience working closely with children and their families
  • While in school, she worked with students and pro bono attorneys to organize public interest events and education opportunities
  • Her varied experience and education allows her to work effectively as a team member of the medical-legal partnership, and to ensure equal access to the legal system for patients with unmet special education legal needs

Fellowship Highlights

During her Fellowship Mary Claire:

  • Formed a special education-focused subcommittee of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Medical-Legal Partnership, comprised of pro bono attorneys, healthcare partners, and Arkansas Children’s Hospital educational specialists
  • Developed and tested a patient screener and referral pathway to identify the patients with unaddressed special education needs
  • Developed, tested, and evaluated a special education specific education module for healthcare providers

Meet Other Fellows Like Mary Claire

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Hasti Anderson

Host: Florida's Children First

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP, The Florida Bar Foundation

Lori Turner

Host: Roger Baldwin Foundation of ACLU of Illinois

Sponsor: McDermott Will & Emery LLP

Renee Erline

Host: Children's Law Center of DC

Sponsor: The Morrison & Foerster Foundation

Kathleen Ford

Host: Sacramento Child Advocates, Inc.

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP