The Center for Rural Development recently hosted a listening session in partnership with the Kentucky Access to Justice Commission (KAJC). The session brought together representatives from various facets of the community to discuss how low to moderate income citizens access services for their civil legal needs.
“Creating a better way of life for the citizens we serve remains at the heart of The Center for Rural Development’s mission,” said Lonnie Lawson, President & CEO of The Center. “It is an honor to host this listening session and support dialog that will bring improvements to our justice system for citizens in our region.”
In November of 2018, Kentucky was awarded a Justice for All Grant (JFA Grant) from the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). The goal of the JFA Grant is to achieve access to justice for all Kentuckians facing civil legal needs.
The initiative will ultimately lead to the development of a strategic plan that answers the following three questions:
- What resources does Kentucky possess that can be leveraged to address civil legal needs?
- What gaps and barriers exist within those resources?
- What efficient and effective measures can be taken to fill those gaps and/or remove those barriers?
The Somerset session was one of several that KAJC is conducting across the state. Listening sessions with social service agencies, community leaders and those in substance abuse and treatment have also been held in Mayfield, Covington, Owingsville, and Hazard.
During the Somerset session, at The Center for Rural Development, several innovative solutions were suggested to address the gaps and barriers. These included training programs for service providers, such as ministers, who are often among the first to be approached to solve problems; non-lawyer trained “navigators”; and methods for connecting the service programs and raising awareness of assistance that is available.
Over the next few months, KAJC will continue to examine possible solutions to the existing gaps and barriers. Listening sessions will continue, but will take a turn toward more specific population groups, personal interviews, and conversations that focus on particular issues and solutions.
For more information, call 606-677-6000 or visit www.centertech.com.