Monday, June 15, 2009

Guardians Needed

The need for legal guardians for people with disabilities and for the elderly is on its way to a crisis point, with more than 100 people who once lived in the Fort Wayne State Developmental Center or another state institution on a state-funded guardianship program waiting list. Add to that the number of young adults with disabilities each year who reach 18 and must have a court-appointed guardian.

The nonprofit Volunteer Lawyer Program of Northeast Indiana and Easter Seals Arc are hosting a free informational meeting at the Allen County Public Library for parents and caregivers of teens or adult children with disabilities. It is an educational outreach of VLP's Volunteer Advocates for Seniors and Incapacitated Adults, which finds volunteer guardians for adults with no family or friends able or willing to oversee services such as housing or health care. A guardian of the estate may also be appointed.

Although Tuesday's forum is targeted at families with adult or soon-to-be adult children with disabilities, training for volunteer guardians for older adults and others through VLP-VASIA will be offered later this year. In some cases, an incapacitated person may have medical or other urgent issues requiring intervention but even when family is found, “They will not step up because they're afraid of being financially responsible,” said attorney Catherine Christoff with Christoff & Christoff, also active with VLP-VASIA.

Although no one denies the guardianship need is significant, just how serious of a problem it is remains uncertain, said Julie Cameron, coordinator of Mental Health in America in Allen County's Adult Guardianship Services. There is no good tracking in Indiana's public or private guardianship programs of how many people on waiting lists may die before a guardian is found or perhaps a distant relative accepts the role. The guardianship process needs to be deliberate and taken very seriously, Houk said, noting “We're talking about suspending people's civil rights. It's important there are barriers.”

Full Article and Source:
Needed: Guardians for Indiana's disabled, elderly


Anonymous said...

This would be a great project for an active Sr. center to follow. Sponsor a guardianship of someone in need.

Anonymous said...

Sure sounds like a worthwhile job, doesn't it?

People don't realize that guardians make life and death decisions for people they don't even know.

I surely wouldn't want to have that responsibility.

Anonymous said...

A Senior Citizens Center sponsering a guardianship is a great idea, Anonymous!