On Thursday a press conference was held to announce the need for Montgomery Adult Guardianship Services (MAGS), a Volunteer Guardianship Program serving Montgomery County’s at-risk elderly and other incapacitated adults.
“This program is available to assist any mentally incapacitated adult in
Montgomery County regardless of income who is in need of a guardian to
act on their behalf, and who has no family or friends to step in and
offer assistance.” said the Honorable Heather Barajas of Montgomery
Superior Court 1. Judge Barajas also added that since MAGS is a no-fee
service the program can save Montgomery County taxpayers the cost of a
competency assessment for an alleged mentally incapacitated individual,
these assessments can cost the county upwards of $5,000 per individual
Erica Costello of the Indiana Adult Guardianship Office explained how
Indiana is one of the few states that do not have a state supported
public system of providing adult guardianship services for the indigent.
There is an increasing need in Indiana communities to expand adult
guardianship services for vulnerable at-risk adults who have nowhere
else to turn. In 2013, the Indiana General Assembly provided funding to
establish the Adult Guardianship Office under the Indiana Supreme
Court’s Division of State Court Administration. The VASIA (Volunteer
Advocates for Seniors or Incapacitated Adults) Fund was created. VASIA
administers the grant funding to increase the number of volunteer-based
guardianship programs throughout the state. In 2016 grant funding was
awarded to Wabash Center, Inc. to provide a volunteer-based guardianship
program for Montgomery County. Matching funds to support MAGS have been
provided by Montgomery County and Wabash Center, Inc.
The MAGS (Montgomery Adult Guardianship Services) program is an
innovative volunteer guardian initiative designed to address the
critical health care, social service and legal representation needs of
the growing population of the vulnerable, ill and at-risk incapacitated
adults in Montgomery County by using trained volunteers to serve as
court appointed Guardians.
The program recruits, trains and supports volunteers to serve as limited
guardians appointed by Montgomery County Superior Court 1’s Honorable
Heather Barajas. MAGS Volunteers undergo criminal history and social
service background checks, personal interviews, provide references and
complete a comprehensive training program that covers the National
Guardianship Associations Adult Guardianship Standards, The National
Guardianship Association’s Code of Ethics, decision making,
communication skills, and other tools to provide volunteers with a
strong advocacy skill set. They are sworn-in as officers of the Court,
and as Montgomery Adult Guardianship Volunteers. Volunteers are
supported by a professional staff member who is a Nationally Certified
Guardian certified by the National Guardianship Association.
What do these volunteers do? MAGS Volunteers are guardians appointed for
vulnerable at risk adults in need of protection who have no family or
friends willing, able or suitable to take on this role in the protected
person’s life. The Volunteer Guardian Advocate will typically spend 2-4
hours per week visiting with their assigned client, just checking in on
their welfare, and needs. They are responsible for making decisions
about the care of protected person for example; health care decisions or
determining an appropriate place to live.
Wabash Center, Inc. applied for the VASIA Grant for Montgomery County so
they can provide a pool of trained, Volunteer Guardian Advocates to
draw from when area vulnerable at-risk adults have nowhere else to turn.
“Without volunteers there is no MAGS, we can’t do the work we do
without the volunteers, they are the very backbone of VASIA adult
guardianship programs across the state of Indiana. MAGS Volunteer
Guardians have the opportunity to make a real impact on the
incapacitated person’s life; they have the opportunity to provide
safety, security, stability and dignity to an individual who otherwise
would not have any of these.” MAGS Program Coordinator Sharon White said
Volunteer applications are now being taken by Montgomery Adult
Guardianship Services. Funding for this program is provided by the
Indiana Supreme Court VASIA Fund, Wabash Center, and Montgomery County.
Please contact Sharon White, MAGS Program Coordinator at 765-423-5531
ext. 423 for more information.
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