Within days of Governor Baker’s declaration of a state of emergency, while continuing uninterrupted legal advocacy for our clients, MHAP for Kids authored a tool kit for advocating for children with special education needs, published nationally by the American Bar Association (ABA). MHAP for Kids Director/Managing Attorney Marisol Garcia also presented on this topic at a national webinar on April 30th co-sponsored by the ABA and the Alliance for Children’s Rights on “Advocating for Special Education Needs: Best Practices to Support Children in a Time of Crisis.”

Since March of 2020, MHAP for Kids attorneys have trained hundreds of families, advocates, and service providers on the impact of COVID-19 on education and access to mental health services.

At its Spring Meeting, the ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty spotlighted MHAP for Kids as a model for best practice locally and nationally. Marisol Garcia presented a white paper, co-authored with Patricia Elliott, DrPH, Clinical Assistant Professor of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, who has been an evaluator of our program since 2014, on MHAP for Kids’ effective response to mental health barriers exacerbated by the current public health crisis.

The membership of the ABA Commission, consisting of attorneys from across the country with a special interest or expertise in the areas of homelessness and poverty, is eager to learn about the work of MHAP for Kids as it relates to systemic advocacy within the mental health system and ensuring access to both health care and educational supports for children. The Commission promoted the MHAP for Kids’ successful outcomes and encouraged partnerships with other states to foster replication or a similar model. MHAP for Kids aligns with the Commission’s goal of promoting access to prevention services (through legal representation and social services) and the Commissions seeks to explore areas of future collaboration.