Acting on an Ohio Supreme Court initiative, which went into effect June 1, the rule changes meet the guidelines for consistency in guardianship cases throughout the state, Summit Probate Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer said.
One of the most important of the new rules, which establish uniform procedures for screening, training and monitoring adult guardians, requires that all guardians complete six hours of training on program fundamentals and three additional hours of training every subsequent year.
Training courses are offered free of charge by the Supreme Court’s Judicial College and can be completed in person, by computerized programming and, eventually, through webinars.
As of mid-July, Stormer said, about 2,200 wards of Summit County were unable to manage their own affairs because of mental or physical impairments or developmental disabilities.
In 2013, Stormer’s staff began increasing scrutiny of its guardians by conducting criminal background checks and by using court “visitors” to better protect the interests of its wards, she said.
The visitors program involves community volunteers who visit wards in extended-care facilities at least once a year, then write a report for the court about how the person is doing.
“It’s another way of getting a set of eyes and ears on the ward,” Stormer said. “If there’s a problem, they can bring it to our attention, and we can address it.”
Last year, volunteers made about 600 visits to the court’s wards, she said.
Those wishing to become volunteers should go to the court’s website, www.summitohioprobate.com and click on the link “Volunteer Opportunities” under the “Additional Resources” section.
They also can call court’s community outreach coordinator, Mary Ann Freedman, at 330-643-2332.
For more information on other areas of the court’s guardianship program, call 330-643-2330.
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New guardianship rules take effect in Summit County Probate Court amid statewide initiative