October 16, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC--Wyoming Legal Services has relinquished its grant from the Legal Services Corporation to provide civil legal assistance to low-income individuals and families in the state, LSC announced today. Planning is underway to ensure continuity of legal assistance to the program's clients.
Wyoming Legal Services is a nonprofit organization and the sole provider of federally funded civil legal aid in Wyoming. It is one of 137 programs that receive grants from LSC, which was created by Congress in 1974 to promote equal access to justice across the nation and to provide high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income persons. Wyoming Legal Services does not receive any funding from the state.
In announcing that Wyoming Legal Services had relinquished its grant, LSC officials pledged to work closely with the Wyoming program to minimize disruption of legal assistance to the program's clients during the transition to an interim legal services provider.
LSC also will seek the help of the Wyoming State Bar and Wyoming courts to ensure a smooth transition and a long-term plan to provide high-quality legal services in Wyoming.
"Our efforts in Wyoming will be directed at ensuring those eligible for legal services have access to justice and receive legal assistance in an efficient and effective manner," LSC President Helaine M. Barnett said.
Wyoming Legal Services had been awarded a 2008 grant of approximately $660,000 to provide legal assistance to low-income residents of the state. Recent reviews by the Government Accountability Office, a congressional auditing agency, and the LSC Office of Compliance and Enforcement had cited the Wyoming program for not adhering to LSC regulations and grant requirements.
LSC and Wyoming Legal Services have been in discussions for several months on how best to provide civil legal assistance to clients in the state and revamp program operations to comply with LSC regulations and grant requirements. LSC is responsible for overseeing grantee compliance with regulations and congressional restrictions and with helping programs improve the quality of their legal services.
About 61,000 state residents are eligible to receive LSC-funded services because their income falls below 125 percent of the federal poverty guideline, according to recently released Census Bureau data. LSC grants are distributed on a competitive basis, with amounts tied to the number of low-income persons, as determined by the decennial census, in service areas or jurisdictions.
LSC is the largest single source of funding for civil legal services in the nation. For fiscal 2008, Congress appropriated $350.5 million for LSC programs and oversight.