For additional information, click on these links:
CCJ works to ensure that low-income people have access to the programs, services, and legal protections that are there for them. We also make sure these programs and services comply with the law. If we need to enforce the law for low-income people, we may file litigation. We do not have the staff or resources to handle a large number of cases; therefore, most of our court cases focus on problems that affect large numbers of low-income people. If you have a legal problem that affects only you (family law, landlord/tenant, consumer, etc.) you should contact the legal services office nearest you by clicking on www.michiganlegalaid.org.Contact CCJ directly if your problem relates to an issue where we have said we want to hear from individual clients. See our issue alerts.
CCJ’s core legal services are limited to low-income people in a 14-county region, who have income at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level. CCJ works with national, state, and local agencies who are involved with poverty issues to identify and address issues that impact low-income families at the federal or state level. Our advocacy efforts include lobbying, litigation, and policy advocacy to improve conditions for low-income families. In some cases, with approval of the Director, CCJ may be able to represent people with income up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. We also invite you to check out Legal Services of Eastern Michigan at lsem-mi.org - 1-800-322-4512.
When CCJ has special funding to do so, we may also work on projects or issues that help people with higher incomes. For example:
-CCJ’s food and nutrition advocacy work, including its Food and Nutrition Helpline, is available statewide and assists people who are eligible for federal food programs, which may include people with income up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
-The Healthcare Eligibility Law Project in Genesee County does not have specific income guidelines, but because it focuses on government insurance programs, it is best able to help people with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
All of CCJ's advocacy seeks to benefit low-income people in some way. We also work on some larger budget and tax issues in partnership with state and national advocates. Some current concerns are reflected in the policy documents below.
Key Components of House and Senate Economic Recovery Packages Would Boost the Economy and Provide Needed Relief to Struggling Families - A September 2008 analysis of the latest proposed stimulus package by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Understanding Michigan's Fiscal Crisis - This document is periodically updated. For more information, click on the link for the Michigan League for Human Services below.
Labor Day Report: Economic Challenges Underscore Needs of Low-Income Workers - October 2008 by the Michigan League for Human Services.
CCJ recognizes that when parents are healthy and employed, their entire family is more likely to thrive. A significant portion of CCJ's work on healthcare and access to education and training seeks to ensure that Michigan's safety net is strong enough to support the needs of these low-income parents including safe quality child care for all families.
CCJ works to ensure that governmental policies and practices help children grow up safe and healthy with the care and education they need to succeed. We work with advocates at the state level and children's advocacy organizations in Michigan to ensure that success. Please see the links below.
CCJ has worked with Kinship Caregiver advocacy groups to try to make sure that grandparents, aunts and uncles, or other relatives, receive the financial and societal support they need while raising a relative’s child or children. Kinship Caregivers take on the tough job of raising a child whose parent is unable to do so for many different reasons, including substance abuse or rehabilitation, incarceration, death, physical or mental incapacity, or intervention of child protective services.
Temporary Authorization for Kinship Care Kit - CCJ worked with the AARP to develop this kit which allows parents to assign their parental rights temporarily (up to six months before a new document is needed to extend it) to a Kinship Caregiver under Michigan’s “parental power of attorney” law. No court involvement or supervision is required.
Medicaid for Kinship Caregivers - CCJ has used legislative advocacy and litigation to preserve Medicaid for Kinship Caregivers under state law. CCJ also has enforced federal laws to make sure that Kinship Caregivers are not denied Medicaid or given deductibles that are too high.
See also Medicaid for parents/Kinship Caregivers section under the "Issues we Work on/Health Pages" of this web site.
Medicaid for Children Living with Kinship Caregivers - See Getting and Keeping Medicaid for Children and Young Adults pamphlet.
CCJ works to ensure that individuals with disabilities have full access to the public benefits they need. People with disabilities are defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and qualify for benefits under the ADA if they are limited or perceived as limited in one or more life activities. Individuals with family members who are disabled may also qualify for protection from discrimination under the ADA if they are being discriminated against because of their family member’s disability.
Accommodations of Disabilities in DHS Programs - DHS is required under the ADA to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. Accommodations include changes in program rules or extra help needed for people to use or benefit from DHS programs. DHS must accommodate your disability even if you do not qualify for SSI or Social Security Disability benefits. DHS does not have clear rules for making accommodations in all programs, even though they are required.
If you have trouble getting benefits because DHS is asking you to do something that you cannot do because of a disability, or you need extra help because of a disability, tell DHS about the problem and contact legal services immediately for help. When possible, a request for accommodation should be in writing (keep a copy for yourself) and should include:
If DHS will not accommodate your disability, seek legal help right away. You can find your local legal services office at http://www.michiganlegalaid.org.
CCJ recognizes that people who are homeless can have special barriers to obtaining the services they need; therefore, CCJ focuses its advocacy efforts on a number of different areas that may impact homeless individuals and families. Below is a list of our current activities:
In the past, CCJ has worked with homeless families and local schools in Genesee County to make sure that children stay in the same school while the family finds a permanent home as required under the McKenny-Vento Act. For more information, click on the link below.
Often homeless individuals are denied state identifications because they do not live at a fixed address. CCJ has worked with the Secretary of State to address these issues.
CCJ monitors proposed and enacted laws and policies to determine their potential impact on people who have special barriers, including the homeless.
Issue alert: State Emergency Relief Policy defines “homeless” to include people living in HUD transitional housing. http://www.mplp.org/Issues/04-08-07/view?searchterm=homeless
CCJ was a presenter at an annual training for agencies serving homeless and runaway youth. Information was presented on some of the rights of homeless youth. The training was sponsored by the State Bar of Michigan.
CCJ provides issue analysis, educational materials, and policy advocacy on a variety of issues related to the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. CCJ is not able to provide individual representation to ex-offenders in most cases, but works to address systemic barriers affecting ex-offenders. For more information see the prisoner re-entry page under the "Our Work" section of this website.
Legal Aid of Western Michigan, CCJ, and the University of Michigan Clinical Law Program co-founded the Statewide Re-Entry Work Group in 2002. The group includes state agency officials, community organizations, private attorneys, and legal aid organizations. The group has worked to improve policies and remove barriers related to employment, government benefits, child support enforcement, state ID cards, and other areas.
CCJ’s Executive Director served on and facilitated several work groups as part of planning undertaken by the Michigan Prison Re-Entry Initiative. These work groups provided recommendations to the Michigan Department of Corrections on how to prepare prisoners for successful re-entry into the community.
Saginaw County Prison Re-Entry Initiative - CCJ serves on the Community Advisory Council for the Saginaw County Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative.
Genesee County Prison Re-Entry Initiative - Legal Services of Eastern Michigan hired CCJ to write a handbook for ex-offenders. Although focused on resources in Genesee County, it includes a lot of useful information about family law, employment, public benefits, and other topics. Click here to view the "Finding Your Way" Booklet.
CCJ has provided training on the collateral consequences of criminal convictions at events sponsored by the Criminal Defense Association of Michigan, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and defenders in Wayne County. Click Here to view information on drug felon disqualification policy advocacy.
Prison Re-Entry Wiki Website - This website is a great one-stop source for information and self-help tools for agencies, ex-offenders, and their families.