The Core Program
The Core Program of the clinic provides general civil poverty law representation. Types of cases include family matters (divorce; separation; parentage; child support); disability (social security disability and supplemental security income or SSI); public benefits (Reach Up Financial Assistance and other benefits from the Economic Services Division of the Department for Children and Families); representation of juveniles committed to state custody as Children in Need of Services (CHINS); landlord/tenant law; bankruptcy and consumer matters; unemployment compensation; wills and guardianships; and family law assistance to prisoners (see Prison Project below).
This project operates under the Core Program at Vermont's Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility and serves the needs of incarcerated individuals by providing legal information and possibly representation to help them address pressing family law issues related to their separation from their children, as well as helping them understand the child support process. SRLC’s work at Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility contributed to major amendments to Vermont’s child support laws in 2012 allowing prisoners to seek and obtain child support modification orders; outreach in this area is continuing.
Children First! (CF!) Legal Advocacy Project
This project was formed in 2000 as a result of a report issued by the statewide Commission on the Future of Vermont’s Justice System, which highlighted the need for qualified attorneys to represent children in high-conflict proceedings involving divorce and parenting. Children First! provides legal representation to children caught up in particularly difficult and contentious disputes in family court (divorce, post-judgment, parentage, etc.) and probate court (guardianships). Though all of the clients in Children First! cases are juveniles that are represented by court appointment only, SRLC attorneys and clinicians also in effect assist parents and guardians involved in these cases to refocus their parenting and their involvement in their children’s lives. In this way, the SRLC helps adults assume appropriate parental responsibility for children in terms of their housing, employment, household finances, and education.
Domestic Violence Project (DV)
The Domestic Violence project began in 1997 and provides legal representation to address the legal needs of Vermont victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in final relief from abuse proceedings primarily in Windsor and Orange counties. This project serves as a no-cost resource to survivors of domestic violence, individuals and families that would not otherwise be able to access legal services. The project also provides training to domestic violence and rape crisis advocates.
Vermont Immigrant Assistance Project (VIA)
VIA has provided pro bono legal support to Vermont’s growing community of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers since 2003, offering direct legal representation to non-citizens seeking legal status in the United States. The project provides assistance primarily in three areas: (1) help with VAWA Petitions and I-751 waivers (domestic violence); (2) U-Visa applications (victims of crime); and (3) asylum cases. VIA is one of only two programs that specialize in providing pro bono legal services for immigrants in Vermont. In representing asylum-seekers, VIA is also involved in a special program for survivors of torture. In partnership with the University of Vermont’s Connecting Cultures Program, VIA partners law students with psychology Ph.D and Masters of Social Work students to provide comprehensive legal, psychological and case management services to this most vulnerable population, through a program called New England Survivors of Torture and Trauma (NESTT).
VERMONT VETERANS LEGAL ASSISTANCE PROJECT (VVLAP)
VVLAP was established in 2014 to provide pro bono legal assistance to Vermont’s military veteran population. The project represents veterans with state civil law issues in Windsor and Orange counties, as well as on a statewide basis in matters concerning veterans law-specific issues, such as appeals from the denial of VA benefits and discharge upgrades. Additionally, VVLAP hosts a monthly walk-in clinic at the VA in White River Junction to assist veterans with family law issues ranging from child support to divorce. Through ongoing outreach to community partners, VVLAP continues to develop awareness of veterans’ needs and advocate for adequate services.