The Medical Legal Partnership (MLP) is a partnership between the Legal Aid Society (LAS) and Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Child and Family Institute (CFI), which serves children with psychiatric conditions and developmental or learning disabilities. Through the MLP, LAS advocates for families to pursue special education and other supportive educational services.
In 2019, AIR was contracted to design and conduct both a process evaluation and a return-on-investment study of the MLP, an initiative funded by the New York County District Attorney’s (DANY) Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (CJII).
At the midpoint of the four-year evaluation, findings from the process evaluation suggest:
Youth with special needs, specifically those with disabilities, often require legal advocacy to pursue educational services that they would not otherwise receive.
Collaboration between staff and the integration of services into programming are integral to the success of the MLP, and the co-location of legal services within the clinic is essential.
Training that LAS provides to CFI staff is essential, as it helps clinicians understand how the partnership works, and provides a better sense of when, how, and why to refer clients to the MLP.
The findings from the return-on-investment study indicate that the benefits of the MLP outweighed the costs for 11 of the 12 educational milestones.