Bay Area Legal Services is a legal aid program that provides free legal help to low-income residents in the Tampa Bay area. Bay Area Legal Services was founded in 1967. As part of its mission to provide free civil legal services to disadvantaged residents, Bay Area Legal Services offers a program known as Lawyers Helping Kids.
Lawyers Helping Kids was started in 2013. Joan Boles, deputy director of Bay Area Legal Services, has been involved with the Lawyers Helping Kids program since its inception. Boles has been with Bay Area Legal Services for 35 years.
Boles said, “Lawyers Helping Kids provides free high-quality civil legal services to eligible Hillsborough County families. Bay Area Legal Services also provides free interpreters for those who need it.”
To be eligible for the program, families must pass the low income threshold. Families who are helped would include someone who is pregnant or at least one child through the fifth grade. The types of cases that Bay Area Legal Services assists with through this program include family law cases with or without domestic violence, kinship, housing issues (including evictions and Section 8), public benefits and employment.
Boles said, “Lawyers Helping Kids was founded to provide critically needed civil legal services to low-income families of Hillsborough County.”
There are approximately 10 attorneys who work in the program. In any given year, Bay Area Legal Services will assist 270 families through this program.
Bay Area Legal Services provides free legal help to residents in five area counties. In our area, they have two offices. One is located in Plant City and the other is located in Ruskin.
The Lawyers Helping Kids program receives funding from the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, the Legal Services Corporation and the Florida Bar Foundation.
Boles said, “Lawyers Helping Kids is grateful for the support and funding by the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.”
If you or someone you know needs help with a civil law issue, you can apply online at https://bals.org/ or call 800-625-2256.
If you would like to help, please make a donation at https://bals.org/support.