Jackline, a pregnant refugee fleeing strife in Uganda, settled in Worcester with her daughter. Although she received some initial guidance from the resettlement agency, Jackline was confused and overwhelmed by the myriad regulations involved in accessing lawful government benefits. Jackline initially contacted Community Legal Aid when the Department of Transitional Assistance threatened to cut her cash assistance for failure to provide information about her daughter’s father to the Department of Revenue. In fact, Jackline had promptly responded to the DOR, but had not used the proper form. CLA attorney Laura contacted both agencies and was able to resolve the problem and protect Jackline’s benefits.
A few months later, after giving birth, Jackline received a notice that her family’s MassHealth benefits would be terminated. The notice was particularly concerning to Jackline because her newborn had suffered an injury to her arm during childbirth. The nerves in her baby’s arm were damaged, and doctors advised Jackline that her baby would only be able to make a recovery if she had regular physical therapy. Without MassHealth, Jackline could not afford the therapy her daughter so critically needed. It turned out that multiple, conflicting cases were open in the MassHealth system under Jackline’s name. Laura identified the problem and successfully advocated for the family’s MassHealth benefits to be restored. Now, Jackline’s daughter receives weekly physical therapy and even began crawling recently, something her doctors thought might not happen.
With Laura’s help, Jackline has learned to advocate for herself. She recently signed her children up for subsidized day care so she can enroll in classes at Quinsigamond Community College. The experience of being a refugee in a new land is fraught with uncertainty, but Jackline feels sure that when future hurdles come her way, she will know how to tackle them. Jackline says, “Laura made a difference in my life because I can stand on my own now. I was stuck, and she helped me.”