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Community Action Program Legal Services, Inc. (CAPLAW) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) membership corporation. It is managed by a board of directors composed of current and former Community Action Agency executive directors from across the country. Its staff is based in Boston, with a coordinator in Washington, D.C.

The network of Community Action Agencies relies on many other partners and partnerships, locally and nationally. One of these national partners is CAPLAW.

Established in 1989, CAPLAW is dedicated to providing the legal, governance and management resources necessary to sustain and strengthen the national Community Action Agency Network.

For over 50 years, since the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 established the Community Action Program, CAAs have been working to strengthen low-income communities and to help low-income individuals and families achieve self-sufficiency and economic security.

Nationwide, over 1,000 CAAs use their core Community Services Block Grant funding to leverage almost $10 billion in total funding; provide a multitude of services – such as job training, Head Start, housing, economic development and transportation; and advocate on economic security issues.

Through its in-house staff and a network of private attorneys, CAPLAW provides consultations, training and resources on a wide variety of legal, governance and management topics. This assistance enables CAAs to operate legally sound and well-governed organizations, thereby enhancing their ability to effect positive change in their communities.

CAAs may consult with CAPLAW staff attorneys and professional staff on a wide variety of legal and financial issues, generally at no additional charge. Recent consultations have addressed:

  • CAA mergers
  • Rights, responsibilities, and composition of CAA boards
  • Lobbying and political activity rules, including the Hatch Act
  • Employment and personnel law issues, such as employee leave, termination and classification
  • Legal use of grant funds (including cost allowability under OMB circulars)
  • Head Start rules
  • Privacy and confidentiality
  • Record retention