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One Grandmother’s Story: Kennedy Krieger Prepares Aging Caregivers

By Lauren Wood
Second-Year Law Student, University of Baltimore School of Law
Project HEAL Summer 2014 Intern

As parents and grandparents caring for loved ones with disabilities grow older, decisions about long-term supports can be made easier with informed planning. Recently, Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law), a community-based program of the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities, and pilot program CARE (Coordination, Advocacy, Resources, and Education) teamed up to help Saddie Green, legal guardian of three grandchildren with disabilities. Green was receiving services from CARE, a case management pilot program of Kennedy Krieger’s Social Work Outpatient Program, when it became clear that the fate of her grandchildren in the event of her death was one of her utmost concerns. “Our team could handle Ms. Green’s psychosocial issues, but not her legal ones,” explains Mary Vogel, director of Kennedy Krieger’s Social Work Department. “That is when we got Project HEAL involved.”

After relaying Green’s story to Maureen van Stone, director of Project HEAL, van Stone reached out to signature pro bono legal partner, Ober|Kaler. With representation from Lindsay D’Andrea, an estates and trusts attorney at Ober|Kaler, Green made an informed decision about the best custodial placement for her grandchildren. “One option the social workers suggested was a voluntary foster placement. Although not ideal, this option was reasonable to address the immediate need—and one that I would not have considered independently,” remarked D’Andrea. “The social workers brought a different perspective. Their take on resolving the issue after her passing was to begin looking into voluntary foster care now, while Green is still able to care for her grandchildren, which ultimately is an estate planning tool.” D’Andrea, with the assistance of the CARE Team, drafted the necessary legal documents for Green and her grandchildren.  

CARE coordinates additional services for children seen by a clinician at the Institute. Since the implementation of the pilot program in 2013, CARE has helped 45 families.

Project HEAL seeks to advance its participation in the CARE pilot program by offering legal advice and fostering relationships between the CARE Team and Project HEAL’s pro bono partners to ensure future collaborative success and optimal patient care.