Harrisburg, Pa. — PA ADAPT, an activist group for disabled people’s rights, is demanding that Governor Tom Wolf make reforms and stop what they call “predatory” guardianship practices.
PA Adapt held a protest at the state capitol on June 8 to push for their demands.
Pennsylvania currently has ten Area Agencies on Aging that oversee the guardianship of individuals ordered by the court. These guardianship agencies then have control over an individual’s assets and can place them inside of an institution.
“Money flows from the estate of the ward or government entitlements making guardianship a lucrative industry," states a PA ADAPT press release.
The organization presented the following demands:
- We demand Governor Wolf direct Secretary of Aging, Robert Torres to come speak with us NOW!
- We demand Secretary Torres schedule and facilitate a meeting with Huntingdon County Area Agency on Aging, David Italiano and the Roads to Freedom Center for Independent Living to create a care plan designed for David, with his input.
- We demand Governor Wolf instructs Secretary Torres and PA Area Agencies on Aging work collaborate with Centers for Independent Living (CILs) to address the many guardianship issues present in PA
- We demand Governor Wolf convene a task force of persons currently at risk of or formerly subject to guardianship, CILs, Area Agencies on Aging, Adult Protection Services, Ombudsman, Protection & Advocacy, family and professional guardians to develop an enforceable bill of rights
“Even the American Bar Association thinks that guardianship is a ‘drastic intervention,’ and that less restrictive options are preferred,” said Mike Grier of Pennsylvania Council of Independent Living (PCIL).
“That drastic intervention by aging organizations and courts here in Pennsylvania has stripped David Italiano and countless others of their dignity, independence, privacy rights, personal & real property and their fundamental right to choose where they live and with whom they associate. The current situation is simply untenable and must be changed.”
David Italiano is a disabled person that is currently being institutionalized against his wishes. An Amicus Brief was filed on April 18 with the Supreme Court regarding his case, in an attempt to overturn guardianship laws.
PA ADAPT said they'd like to see the state follow the Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship, and Other Protective Arrangements Act (Uniform Act).
Key provisions within the act are to prohibit
guardianships where less restrictive alternatives would meet an
adult's functional needs; require specific court findings before certain
critical rights (e.g., to marry, vote, choose visitors) are abridged;
require petitioners to state whether less restrictive alternatives have
been tried and justify any failure to do so; create mechanisms that
adults subject to guardianship and others can use to trigger
modification or termination of an order.