Community HeLP Clinic secures ruling to benefit disabled persons accessing DFCS programs

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The law school’s Community Health Law Partnership Clinic recently achieved a significant administrative legal victory that could have far-reaching implications beyond their initial client who experiences a disability.

In the December 2017 ruling, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated that the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services did not provide reasonable accommodations – required under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act – for the clinic’s disabled client when applying for aid through the SNAP (food stamps) program. The USDA has given DFCS three months to implement system-wide procedures for tracking requests for reasonable accommodations, resolving grievances and ensuring that all front-line agency staff receives civil rights training including ADA/504 compliance.

Associate Professor Jason A. Cade, who directs the clinic, says this resolution will benefit many persons with disabilities throughout the state of Georgia. “Due to the ruling, it is anticipated that DFCS will be implementing a range of procedures and policies to bring them into compliance with federal law, which will ultimately make things easier for those with disabilities seeking to access DFCS administered programs. The Community HeLP Clinic often represents persons with disabilities and greatly welcomes this action,” he said.

Law students involved in achieving this momentous, multi-year victory for the clinic’s client were:  2017 graduates R. Larkin Taylor-Parker and Alessandra P. Cunha, third-year students Christopher D. “Chris” Johnson and Clayton C. McClain, and second-year students Gabriel Justus and Slaton Wheeler. 

The Community HeLP Clinic’s mission is to address the social determinants of health for indigent individuals by tackling a range of legal needs that impact patients, including immigration, disability rights and benefits.The clinic provides a first-rate learning opportunity for law students by giving them responsibility for handling all aspects of their clients’ cases, under Cade’s supervision.