“We are blessed. We are lucky. This is exactly the next step, I think, if we are serious about breaking the cycle and changing lives,” Montoya said. “This math problem means nothing to this child if he is hungry, if he hasn’t slept, doesn’t have (correct) clothes (and is laughed at).”
Jefferson Elementary was chosen for the on-site legal clinic because of its high percentage of students from families living in poverty.
“For some families (assistance) is crucial,” Montoya said.
Going forward, Smithberg said Iowa Legal Aid hopes to expand the project to other schools in Davenport and elsewhere in the future.
The project, which costs approximately $ 150,000 to $ 200,000 per year per school site, is funded by private donors and statewide funding received by Iowa Legal Aid.
Iowa Legal Aid first launched the program at King and Monroe Elementary Schools in Des Moines in 2019. The Davis girls attend Monroe Elementary School.
“(Teachers and school staff) immediately listened to my kids,” who were talking about the abuse they were witnessing at home and becoming disruptive in the classroom, Davis said. “And they could see the signs that there was something wrong, and they helped us. They opened so many doors,” she said of her work with legal aid. from Iowa and school staff.
School staff contacted the Iowa Department of Social Services and met with an attorney from the Iowa Legal Aid staff to help with her custody dispute and other issues. , and put her in touch with Orchard Place in Des Moines, which provides mental health services to children.