|The Colorado Lawyer|
Vol. 29, No. 7 [Page 47]
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Colorado Lawyer Trust Account Foundation: Your COLTAF Dollars At Work
by Michele McCandless
This spring, I visited six of the fifteen organizations that received funding through the 1999-2000 Colorado Lawyer Trust Account Foundation's ("COLTAF") discretionary grant cycle. I enjoyed meeting the staff members of these outstanding agencies and learning more about the vital work they do in their communities. COLTAF awards grants in three categories: legal services program grants; local bar association pro bono program grants; and discretionary grants to other nonprofit organizations with projects that provide legal assistance or education to Colorado's poor and disadvantaged.
Alternatives to Violence, Inc.: Loveland
In its second year of receiving COLTAF funding, this agency is committed to the intervention and prevention of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other violent crimes, and to educating people about these crimes. It has been providing services to southern Larimer County since 1982.
Current COLTAF Grant: $2,500
Grant Purpose: To support the Court Liaison Program and the printing of more than 1,000 victim's rights/resources brochures that are distributed on-site to victims of domestic violence by responding law enforcement officers.
Agency Information: The Alternatives to Violence staff has become an integral part of the Loveland Police Department's Victim Response Team, and the Court Liaison staff person works closely with the Larimer County courts and law enforcement agencies. Residents who speak only Spanish are increasing in number in this community, so the organization is planning to have its victim resource materials translated, as well as to recruit and train more bilingual volunteers.
Crossroads Safehouse, Inc.: Fort Collins
Opened in 1980 as a domestic violence shelter for Larimer County, Crossroads has expanded services to include a legal advocacy program, on-the-scene crisis intervention, individual and family counseling, and community outreach education. This is Crossroads' second year of receiving COLTAF funding.
Current COLTAF Grant: $2,500
Grant Purpose: To provide legal advocacy services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, such as assistance in filling out restraining order forms, court accompaniment, and client education to prevent a recurrence of violence.
Agency Information: Like many domestic violence shelters, Crossroads finds itself called on by community needs to expand its programs and services. The organization recently opened a new "Outreach Center" that will offer violence prevention education and other programs to a broader community audience.
Justice Information Center: Denver
Since 1974, the Center has provided interpretation and translation services to diverse communities in legal settings throughout Colorado and has received COLTAF funding since 1986.
Current COLTAF Grant: $7,600
Grant Purpose: To support the interpretation/translation department that provides certified translators and interpreters for the court system and other law-related settings.
Agency Information: The Center contracts the services of 100 interpreters who are fluent in more than sixty languages. Translators and interpreters are court certified or professionally tested and approved by the Center. Emergency and after-hours interpretation services are available.
The Legal Center for People With
Disabilities and Older People: Denver/Grand Junction
The Legal Center has been protecting and promoting the rights of people with disabilities and older people in Colorado for more than twenty-six years and has received COLTAF funding since 1984.
Current COLTAF Grants: Grand Junction — $5,000; Denver — $2,700
Grant Purpose: In the Legal Center's Grand Junction office, the COLTAF grant is used to provide legal services for people who have been discriminated against because of a disability. Helping children with disabilities is a statewide priority for the Legal Center, so the COLTAF funds earmarked for Denver were used to update the Handbook of Rights to Special Education in Colorado: A Guide for Parents. Plans are being made to translate this much-used book into Spanish.
Agency Information: In Grand Junction, the Legal Center has been helping developmentally and physically disabled residents of the area's last institution-type center move into less restrictive community settings. Some of these individuals need direct legal representation because they do not have legal guardians. The Center's special education handbook is highly valued by Colorado parents and guardians who struggle to receive adequate and appropriate services for their special needs children.
Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center: Denver
This organization serves at-risk children and their families statewide and has received COLTAF funding since 1991.
Current COLTAF Grant: $3,280
Grant Purpose: To provide support to the Children's Law Center's pro bono project that recruits and trains attorneys to represent young children at risk for domestic violence.
Agency Information: The Children's Law Center targets economically disadvantaged children at risk from violence in their homes. The children they serve are usually under ten years of age and are from all ethnic groups. The pro bono attorney program provides protection to children and critical services to families, offering alternatives to violence and to prevent future abuse. The Center's staff also coordinates with other agencies and organizations regarding critical needs such as emergency housing, mental health treatment, substance abuse assessment and treatment, and parenting courses.
Tu Casa: Alamosa
This agency serves the widespread community of the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado. They have been providing emergency shelter, crisis intervention, and support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in the rural, six-county region since 1979 and have received COLTAF funding since 1986.
Current COLTAF Grant: $3,880
Grant Purpose: To provide legal advocacy to assist in all areas concerning legal matters, including filling out restraining order forms, court accompaniment, and agency referrals.
Agency Information: This program, with nine staff members, is the only agency in the region that offers a comprehensive range of professional services at no charge to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Besides offering victim assistance, the organization provides individual and family counseling and sexual assault prevention education in the schools. Tu Casa works closely with seventeen different law enforcement agencies throughout the region. Future plans include updating its computer system to streamline the restraining order paperwork.
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