Photo of Raneem Ashrawi

Raneem Ashrawi

  • Hosted by Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc.
  • Sponsored by Eversheds Sutherland, The Home Depot
  • Service location Atlanta, Georgia
  • Law school University of Georgia School of Law
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Medical-Legal Partnership
  • Fellowship class year 2021
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Raneem (she/her/hers) advocates on behalf of Georgia youth with mental health needs by advancing their access to the medically necessary mental health services and reasonable accommodations to which they are entitled under federal law.

Currently, one in four kids in Georgia are experiencing at least one mental or behavioral health issue; but only one in 11 of those kids are accessing any mental health care. We know that our health status is determined primarily by social and environmental factors like poverty, housing, education, structural racism, and trauma exposure. These determinants often manifest as legal needs that, left unmanaged, have a significant negative impact on health outcomes.

Raneem leverages Atlanta Legal Aid’s longstanding medical-legal partnership to represent clients in Medicaid and special education matters as they relate to mental health. She also utilizes the medical-legal partnership’s multi-disciplinary framework to empower Georgia families and educate providers on legal issues related to mental health.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the first year of the Fellowship, Raneem has:

  • Worked with 23 families of children with mental health needs to access appropriate special education supports and services
  • Filed a due process complaint for a special education matter in which a child with mental health needs was being denied access to appropriate services in the least restrictive environment
  • Assisted with an emergency Medicaid waiver transition and avoided any disruption in services for the family of a young adult with significant and complex medical needs
  • Helped a child with a significant history of crisis mental health care to access intensive outpatient services as a medically necessary service covered by Medicaid
  • Presented to behavioral and mental health specialists in both emergent and outpatient settings on mental health-related legal topics such as special education, school discipline, Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT), Olmstead and supported decision-making

Next Steps

In the next year, Raneem plans to:

  • Collaborate with mental health providers and stakeholders to host learning sessions for parents of children with mental and behavioral health needs
  • Continue to represent clients in Medicaid-related mental health matters
  • Track emerging patterns in mental health legal issues to inform relevant stakeholders

Media

Ashrawi receives prestigious Equal Justice Works Fellowship

My touchstone is to ‘be the adult you needed as a child.’ This project is the culmination of all my experiences, not only from my legal work and education but that intimate understanding of a struggle that just cannot be taught.

Raneem Ashrawi /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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Host: Children's Law Center of Massachusetts

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Rajan Anthony Sonik

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Katie Rogers

Host: The Legal Aid Society of Columbus

Sponsor: Ohio Access to Justice Foundation