AmeriCorps VISTA Intake Improvement Project
The Missouri State Public Defender System (MSPD) has partnered with AmeriCorps VISTA to spearhead the Intake Improvement Project, an internal effort to build sustainable procedures to decrease caseloads and waitlists, increase the resources and time devoted to each case, and improve the quality of representation provided to our clients. The project presents a great opportunity for individuals who look to make a difference in our community. VISTA members will not only learn the inner-workings and circumstances of public defense, but also take the lead in improving organizational compliance with state regulations and increasing the capacity of the MSPD client intake process by assessing shortcomings, exploring new procedures and resources, and implementing identified enhancements.
The AmeriCorps VISTA Intake Improvement Project is currently in its inaugural year. VISTA Members Natalie and Larin joined MSPD in January 2021, and have worked to increase the capacity of MSPD intake procedures in their short time with MSPD by:
- Extensively training in the regulations, procedures, and practices that determine eligibility for Missouri State Public Defender services.
- Investigating and analyzing the regulations, procedures, and practices of other public defense organization and the associated systemic effects.
- Gathering vital information about various costs of living and private counsel in all of Missouri’s 114 counties.
- Investigating resources and procedures to ensure verification of applicant information.
- Collaborating with outside organizations – such as Arch City Defenders and Washington State’s Office of the Public Defender in determining best intake practices and resources.
- Auditing eligibility determinations and surveying office staff to analyze compliance with current guidelines and establish training needs.
- Assessing the accuracy and applicability of current guidelines in determining and defining indigence.
MSPD is always looking for interested candidates for future project years of the AmeriCorps VISTA Intake Improvement Project. Future AmeriCorps VISTA Members will build off the tremendous work of Natalie and Larin in improving the capacity of MSPD and the accuracy of eligibility determinations statewide.
If you have questions about the program or interest in serving your community through the AmeriCorps VISTA Intake Improvement Project, please contact Lucas Dowdall at Lucas.Dowdall@mspd.mo.gov.
Americorps VISTA offers a wide range of benefits for VISTA members; such as health coverage, an end of service education award or stipend, childcare assistance, living allowance and relocation allowance, as well as professional development training.
For a more comprehensive look at Americorps VISTA benefits, visit the VISTA campus