JACKSON, Miss. (February 12, 2009) – Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP will donate $50,000 from a fee received through its pro bono representation of children in state care to several children’s charities in Mississippi. The firm will donate the balance of the fee award to charities in Birmingham, Ala., where it is based.
The donation is the result of the firm’s role as counsel to the Children’s Rights organization in a lawsuit against the State of Mississippi’s Department of Human Services. The suit charged Mississippi with failing to provide legally required safety, protection and basic health care services to thousands of abused and neglected children in state custody, while also denying them the opportunity for a permanent, loving home. The State of Mississippi agreed to settle the case in 2007 by submitting to the court a detailed plan to reform the system to protect children in care, which the court approved. The court also directed the state to pay an award of attorney fees to Bradley Arant Boult Cummings.
“Because we undertook this as a pro bono matter in defense of children’s rights, the firm is donating the award to organizations that better the lives of children,” said Margaret Oertling Cupples, managing partner for the firm’s Jackson, Mississippi office. “We felt it was only right that the proceeds of a case involving the most vulnerable children in our society, those in care, should be directed back into the community through charities that support the education, health, safety and legal rights of children.”
“We thank Bradley Arant not only for its thoughtful gift, but also for its recognition of struggling children and their families in Mississippi,” said Robert Langford, Executive Director of Operation Shoestring, one of the charities receiving a donation. “Bradley Arant’s recent success benefits children in situations not unlike those in Shoestring’s target neighborhood in Jackson, Mississippi. Shoestring greatly appreciates Bradley Arant’s effort and generosity. We are especially thankful for the firm’s attention to the larger picture, as it affects those of us working with kids and families at the grassroots level.”
“We were very excited that Bradley Arant Boult Cummings decided, through its donation, to be a partner with us in creating a lasting gift that will further the education of children in Mississippi,” said Leslie H. Poole, Development Director of the Mississippi Children’s Museum, another recipient. “To secure recognition from the firm regarding the importance and impact of the museum, and to have the donation come about as the result of an award in a case that improved the lives of children in Mississippi, was very gratifying.”
The Mississippi charities receiving donations are:
The Mississippi Children’s Museum
The goal of the Mississippi Children’s Museum is to empower and inspire all our state’s children, regardless of their social, educational or economic background, to discover their potential through tapping their curiosity and creativity. The Museum, currently under construction, will accomplish this mission through hands-on and engaging exhibits and programs focusing on literacy, the arts, science, health and nutrition – the keys to helping our children mature into healthy and productive adult learners.
The Mississippi Center for Justice
The Mississippi Center for Justice opened its doors in 2003, giving Mississippi a critical capacity that it lacked for more than a decade: a home grown, nonprofit public interest law firm that pursues racial and economic justice through advocacy for systemic change. The Center carries out its mission through a community lawyering approach that advances specific social justice campaigns in partnership with national and local organizations and community leaders.
Friends of Children’s Hospital Pediatric Cardiology Emergency Fund
Friends of Children’s Hospital is a nonprofit organization create to benefit the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. It was created by a group of dedicated members from around the state whose purpose is to support and promote the Batson Hospital for Children, Mississippi’s only hospital designed and equipped specifically for the care and treatment of sick and injured children. Friend’s goal is to build a statewide base of community support in order to raise money for state-of-the art equipment, facilities and services for all pediatric patients.
Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center
Established in 1991 as a 501c3 private non-profit agency, the MS Children’s Advocacy Center was the first Children’s Advocacy Center in the state. The MCAC’s mission is to provide a friendly place where children who are suspected abuse victims can be interviewed by specialists with training in forensic interviewing and child development. The ultimate goal of the Children’s Advocacy Center model is to reduce the trauma of child abuse victims and to facilitate the sharing of information among the professionals whose jobs are to protect children and hold offenders accountable.
The Children’s Justice Center at Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital
The Clinic, designed to provide noninvasive medical examinations and treatment for abused and neglected children, is part of the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children. It provides medical assessments to determine the presence of injury or infection. Staff also document findings indicating abuse or neglect and work in conjunction with Children’s Advocacy Centers, which interview children that have disclosed sexual abuse. Children are referred to the clinic by the Mississippi Department of Human Services, child advocacy centers around the state, health care providers or law enforcement.
Operation Shoestring was founded in 1968 in the basement of Wells United Methodist Church, as a response to the turbulence of the 1960s and the growing divisions in the city of Jackson and State of Mississippi. Today, Operation Shoestring works as an interfaith ministry with support from a variety of individual and corporate funders, local congregations and several public entities. Its programs and services promote health and self-sufficiency in its target neighborhoods, uplifting the needy and brightening the future for us all… especially our children.
I.S. Sanders YMCA
The Farish Street branch of the Metropolitan YMCAs of Mississippi, or the I.S. Sanders YMCA as some know it, operates a daily preschool program for children aged 6 weeks to 5 years. The Sanders YMCA also provides an after-school program for children from kindergarten age through 7th grade. Children are picked up after school and are given a safe, educational, and nurturing environment by professionally trained leaders.