We are rallying the community to help save lives. Please join us in the fight against domestic violence.
TheLAA’s domestic violence program is the largest and most comprehensive service of its kind in Atlanta. Now, with currently 340 pending cases impacting nearly 950 women and children, the LAA has just learned that due to federal budget cuts and increased funding demand, they will not receive a major federal grant ($520,000 every two years) that has helped support the program for the past eight years. They need $250,000 in the next 90 days in order to maintain current level of services.
We urgently need your help to continue saving women, men and children.
The GOAL: $200,000 in 90 days
Thank you for your generosity.
How Your Donation Makes A Difference
For more than eight years, the Latin American Association has been a safe haven for Latina immigrants and other women and their children experiencing the devastating effects of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Offering holistic social services support and direct legal services to women and families, the LAA is the largest provider of comprehensive immigration legal services in the Atlanta metro area for victims of domestic violence and other crimes. While serving immigrants from countries around the world, the LAA is the ONLY provider of no cost or low cost professional legal immigration services in Atlanta for domestic violence victims offered in a fully bilingual and culturally-sensitive environment for the growing Latino community.
What Services Does the Program Provide?
Serving more than 340 families and 600 children in 2011 to date, the Latin American Association provides comprehensive legal services, social services and victim education to women and families at their most vulnerable times, placing them on a path to safety and self-sufficiency. Many women who are suffering from domestic violence and other abuses may be eligible for relief under federal immigration law. The LAA educates families on their rights and opportunities and helps them to take empowered actions by providing:
Legal Services: The LAA offers direct legal services to women and families who are victims of domestic violence. The program offers legal consultations, which serve as an important catalyst to decision making, and provides services for individuals who are eligible for protection under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), including VAWA self-petitions. Other legal services include Temporary Protective Orders, U Visas, work authorizations, and lawful permanent residence status. The LAA partners with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society and the Georgia Legal Services Program to coordinate family legal services, including protection orders, divorce, custody, and child/spousal support cases.
Social Services: Many families come to the LAA having just fled or seeking to flee an abusive situation. The LAA Victims Advocate educates victims about existing laws, options, resources, and services, and coordinates an array of desperately needed services to meet their initial emergency, health and safety needs. These services include housing, shelter placement, food, clothing, and access to healthcare. The Advocate helps each family develop an individualized safety plan and accompanies all victims to court, providing translations, support, and guidance in what can be a very intimidating process. To provide further stability, the Advocate helps families access additional benefits in which they may be eligible, including Victim Compensation, Medicaid, food stamp, and other benefits, and connects them to employment resources, mental health and financial counseling, support groups, and other community services.
Why is This Program So Important?
Immigrant victims of abuse and other crimes are particularly vulnerable due to language barriers, fears of deportation, isolation from family, and fears and threats of retaliation both in the U.S. and their home countries. The LAA provides immigrant survivors with relief and federal protections they may have already been entitled to but were prevented from accessing by their abusers. These federal protections are intended to encourage immigrant victims who may not have legal status, or depend on the perpetrator of the crimes for their legal status, to escape violence, seek help, report crimes, and cooperate with the police without fearing automatic deportation.
The LAA is a trusted resource in the Latino community, and women and families know they can turn to the LAA for help in a culturally-sensitive environment. The legal and social services the program provides give women and their children the legal ability to live, work, and receive an education in the U.S. in order to attain economic and social independence and security.
What Makes This Program Unique?
In collaboration with valuable community partners, the LAA’s domestic violence program is the only program seamlessly offering legal and social services under one umbrella. Many women come to the LAA having gone to many other resources unsuccessfully looking for help. The LAA’s approach provides for comprehensive and coordinated case management services addressing the holistic needs of the family. In addition, families may access other LAA services promoting education and economic independence, including employment services, English and computer classes, and youth academic programs.
How is the Program Funded?
For the past 8 years the LAA has received a significant Legal Assistance for Victims grant from the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) of the U.S. Department of Justice (approximately $525,000 every two years) to help fund the program. The grant has helped provide 2 staff attorneys, 1 paralegal, and 1 social worker to provide direct services to women experiencing abuse and other crimes. Due to federal budget cuts, the OVW was able to fund just 6 percent of total grant requests, and the LAA has just learned that it will not receive this crucial source of funding this year. The LAA is rallying the community to raise the support needed to maintain current service levels for women and children.
Who Receives Help Each Year?
The program served more than 600 clients in 2010 and has already served 624 individuals in 2011. Of clients served this year, 96% are Latino, 2% African, and approximately 1% each Caucasian and Asian. 97% of the survivors are female and 13% male.
Since 2009 clients have represented 31 Georgia counties and nearly 40 countries, including countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. 83% of cases the first part of this year were related to domestic violence, 15% were sexual assault, and 2% were stalking.
What is the Impact of the Program?
In 2011 to date, the LAA has received approvals for 33 VAWA cases and 59 U Visas, which lead families on a path to lawful permanent residence and work authorization. The program this year has had approvals for 110 work authorizations and 36 legal permanent residencies further promoting self-sufficiency and independence for women and their children. The program has submitted 267 VAWA, U Visa, work authorization and lawful permanent residence applications, which are currently pending approval. This year the LAA has assisted 99 clients with Temporary Protective Orders, with 138 families receiving assistance in 2010.
What Other Organizations and Partners Help Provide and Coordinate Services?
The LAA’s program for the victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking would not be possible without the support of an array of community partners. Ongoing partnerships include the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Partnership Against Domestic Violence, International Women’s House, and the YWCA of Cobb County. In addition, the LAA maintains valuable relationships with nearly 20 law enforcement offices in the state, which provide program referrals and support to victims’ cases. The LAA also works with a network of nearly 30 local women’s shelters and programs to provide legal and other services.