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The Coordinated Intake and Referral System Pilot is Scheduled to Launch Next Week

I am beyond thrilled to share with you that the Coordinated Intake and Referral (CIR) System pilot is scheduled to launch next week! The DC Bar Foundation has been incredibly fortunate to work and collaborate with some of the most dedicated grantee partners, legal aid community members, stakeholders from other sectors, and consultants committed to ensuring every DC resident has equal access to justice. Together, we have spent the last four years developing the CIR System, which will create a streamlined process for DC residents to access legal aid services through a single phone number or website.

 

In 2020, the Foundation had its initial project kickoff, where we conducted multiple interviews with various stakeholders from legal services, social services, and other sectors to visualize the CIR concept. Since then, there has been significant progress in turning ideas into concrete plans. We have held focus groups, hearing directly from DC residents and legal aid organizations, created a provider database that lists all DC civil legal aid providers, and launched CIR Chats to ensure we regularly share with and hear from the individuals and organizations who will potentially use the CIR System.

 

I am pleased to share two major updates about the CIR System.

 

I. We are launching the CIR Pilot.

As I mentioned, the CIR System pilot is scheduled to launch next week. Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP) will host the pilot, which will focus on family law (with the exception of domestic violence cases) and include 10 participating organizations (see below for the full list of organizations). The purpose of the pilot is to test the system protocols and technology. We are also partnering with NPC Research to evaluate the system’s ease of use and overall case routing effectiveness. For example, we want to measure how quickly DC residents are getting to the right provider. In addition, knowing that many organizations receive a large number of calls from people they cannot help, we want to measure whether we are reducing their intake burden. By leaving the eligibility screening to CIR and sending pre-screened applicants to providers with requisite expertise, we hope providers spend less time screening and rejecting applicants. To collect this information, NPC Research will monitor data directly from the system and conduct focus groups with staff at participating organizations and the CIR Navigators (the individuals who will answer calls received through the system).

 

To get to this point, since September 2023, Karen Newton Cole, executive director at NLSP, has led a pilot working group. The group comprised staff from the Children’s Law Center, DC Affordable Law Firm, DC Bar Pro Bono Center, Legal Aid DC, Network for Victim Recovery of DC, Neighborhood Legal Services Program, and Whitman-Walker Health. This group included representation from other networks, including the Family Law Assistance Network (FLAN), Landlord Tenant Legal Assistance Network (LTLAN), and Victim Legal Network of DC (VLNDC), which all have coordinated intake processes. The working group discussed high-level issues, such as ethics, technology, protocols, and case routing.

 

Throughout this process, collaboration and feedback have been a top priority, and this pilot will provide critical feedback that will help us build an efficient system with direct benefits for DC residents and legal aid providers.

 

The following organizations are participating in the CIR Pilot: Amara Legal Center, Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, DC Affordable Law Firm, DC Volunteer Lawyers Project, Legal Aid DC, Mother’s Outreach Network, Neighborhood Legal Services Project, Network for Victim Recovery of DC, Pro Bono Center, and Whitman- Walker Health. 

 

II. We are seeking a CIR System host.

Finally, as we prepare to launch the pilot, we are also considering the system's long-term needs, and one of the most important aspects will be a host for the full CIR System, which will launch in late 2024 to early 2025. The thought leadership and collaboration of the pilot working group were essential to the success of the pilot launch. We plan to utilize a similarly cooperative and iterative approach with the host of the CIR System. To that end, we are looking for an organization willing to come to the table and be a thought partner with us and other stakeholders in this process. If your organization is interested in hosting the full CIR System, we are accepting non-binding, informal statements of interest. This invitation is open to all organizations within legal aid and those beyond with other areas of expertise. To express your organization’s interest, email innovation@dcbarfoundation by June 28.

 

I am grateful to work with so many dedicated partners that have helped us get to this point—from the members of the DC Social Justice Transformations Network, which has prioritized this effort since its earliest days, to NLSP, which has served as a leader at critical points in the journey, to every person who has participated in the focus groups, chats, and working groups, I sincerely thank you. To every person who contributed their time in other ways or those who assisted through financial support, thank you for helping to make this possible. The belief in the power of a more coordinated civil legal aid network has existed in our community for decades, so I am thankful that we have moved this vision forward through consistent and determined collaboration. We have reached a significant step in increasing access to justice for DC residents.

 

With gratitude,

Kirra L. Jarratt

Chief Executive Officer

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