National Center plays critical role

I have been struck by the importance of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnerships time and time again while conducting MLP site visits around the United States. Program partners identify a raft of benefits flowing from the Center including:

  • Being a ‘clearing-house’ for an array of MLP related issues, including requests for the establishment of partnerships and offers of pro bono support
  • Leadership in advancing MLP philosophy and practice
  • Resourcing, for start-up and established MLPs, managing an excellent repository of MLP related resources
  • Establishing strategic relationships with research institutions and funding bodies; see MLP Metrics concerning the Center’s relocation to George Washington University and Pro Bono and MLP regarding the Walmart collaboration.
  • Promoting excellence in MLP practice, including MLP evaluation, see MLP Metrics
  • Enabling or improving communications between MLPs, through webinars, teleconferences, and hosting the National Conference each year
  • Conducting the annual MLP survey to track MLP activities nationally.
The value of the Center was again underscored for me when reading the history of Federal Government funding for a number of pilot MLPs  in disadvantaged communities to address “improving the health of women across the lifespan and decreasing infant and maternal morbidity and mortality during or associated with the perinatal period.”1 During the 2010 funding phase for that project, the agency formally required local services to collaborate with the National Center during the program development phase. In was envisaged, in turn, that the Center would provide assistance with initial and ongoing training, technical assistance, quality improvement, and cross-sited evaluation.2
As the conversation grows in Australia regarding advocacy-health alliances / medical-legal partnerships and coal-face services begin evolve and multiply, the need for mechanisms to support communication, evaluation, resourcing and strategic leadership will also grow. Identifying appropriate systems that support innovation and excellence will be guiding principles for those engaged in the exciting task of building this critical infrastructure.
Peter Noble
1. US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Division of Healthy Start and Perinatal Services FACT SHEET, undated.
2. Maternal and Child Health Bureau Division of Healthy Start and Perinatal Systems, Supplemental Funding Announcement “Promoting Family Advocacy through Medical-Legal Partnership”, 2010.


  1. Thanks for the wonderful article

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