ALBUQUERQUE — Pegasus Legal Services announced it received a $20,000 grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico’s (BCBSNM) Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® initiative. The grant will support Pegasus’ array of free, bilingual legal services to low-income households, including:
- Education Law: Legal services to families seeking to enforce their children’s right to a free and appropriate education, with focus on the needs of children with disabilities.
- Systemic Advocacy: Working in partnership with policy makers to ensure children’s needs and rights are taken into consideration in development of state and local laws, policies and regulations.
- Youth Law Project: Advocacy and legal services to youth without homes or who have run away, need access to education, require health or mental health care and/or are transitioning from foster care to adulthood.
- Young Parents: Serving parents age 25 years or younger in family law matters, including custody, visitation and child support.
- Kinship Guardianship: Legal services to grandparents and other kinship caregivers of children whose parents are unable or unwilling to provide proper care.
- Child Abuse and Neglect: Working as guardian ad litems — children’s attorneys who represent the best interests of the child — and youth attorneys for young people over age 14 in the 2nd Judicial District and the specialized Indian Child Welfare Act court for children who have been abused and/or neglected and taken into custody by Children Youth and Families Department.
“Pegasus is grateful to BCBSNM for this generous donation to support our work,” said Bette Fleishman, Pegasus executive director. “Since COVID-19 we have seen an increase in the need for our services. This support allows us to continue to respond to the needs of the community."
Funding from BCBSNM helps ensure Pegasus services remain free for clients. Services are available to low-income households with incomes 300% or less as a percent of federal poverty guidelines. Clients are children and youth ages 0-25; in some legal situations, attorneys represent the parents on behalf of the children’s interests. Pegasus’ mission is to provide safe and stable homes, quality education and health care and a voice in decisions about their client’s lives. These universal basic needs of a home, education, health care and autonomy are frequently unreachable for many Pegasus clients without extra support and/or legal intervention.
“At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mexico, we strive to support local programs that address social issues related to health inequities and barriers to care, such as advocacy, housing, education and mental health,” said Janice Torrez, BCBSNM president. “By providing such comprehensive legal services at no cost, Pegasus is making an impact on these key social determinants of health for vulnerable young people in New Mexico.”
BCBSNM’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Families grant initiative is part of an ongoing commitment to invest in and partner with nonprofit organizations that offer sustainable, measurable programs in nutrition, physical activity, disease prevention and management, and supporting safe environments. Pegasus’ commitment to safe, stable families aligns with the vision of Healthy Kids, Healthy Families to improve the health of children and their families across New Mexico.
About Pegasus Legal Services for Children
Pegasus Legal Services for Children (“Pegasus”) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency providing free bilingual civil legal services to children, youth, and their caregivers, including advice and information, direct representation, community legal action, and systemic advocacy. Based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, we work in counties across New Mexico. We are the only non-profit law firm representing NM children’s civil legal needs, and provide these services at no cost to our clients. Pegasus was founded twenty years ago to fill a missing aspect of our society: protecting children's rights. Our mission is to promote and defend the rights of children and youth to safe, stable homes, quality education and healthcare, and a voice in decisions that affect their lives. In addition to providing legal representation, and partnering with like-minded organizations, Pegasus has been a leader in creating rights and protection for children and their families.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico is one of the largest commercial health insurers in New Mexico with more than 680,000 New Mexicans carrying a Blue Cross and Blue Shield card. Since 1940, BCBSNM has been committed to promoting the health and wellness of its members and communities through accessible, cost-effective, quality health care. BCBSNM is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, the country’s largest customer-owned health insurer and fourth largest health insurer overall. Health Care Service Corporation is a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.