At a White House event today commemorating World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Deputy U.S. Attorney General James M. Cole called civil legal aid “a missing link” in the effort to protect older Americans.
“Legal services programs have a unique opportunity to prevent and remedy elder abuse, especially the scourge of financial exploitation.” But, he added, “legal services program staff too often don’t have the specialized training on how to identify and support older victims, and how to harness their existing expertise to respond to older victims’ special needs.”
At the event, Cole announced the Missing Links Project, which will develop training materials on elder abuse for legal services attorneys, and thanked Legal Services Corporation President James J. Sandman for his “essential cooperation” in its development. Sandman plans to make the training available to all LSC-funded programs.
Cole concluded by acknowledging the important role of pro bono in providing civil legal services. “We are hopeful that the trained legal aid lawyers’ efforts will be further leveraged by private lawyer pro bono volunteers,” he said, “thus increasing the overall capacity to serve elderly victims.”
The Missing Links Project is collaborative effort by the Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative, Office for Victims of Crime and Access to Justice Initiative.