Alternatives to Guardianship
“The most effective way to protect someone with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities from exploitation isn’t by simply obtaining guardianship, rather it’s empowering an individual and providing a person with opportunities to SPEAK up (or communicate – if someone doesn’t use verbalization) for their preferences. Guardianship might be a part of that – but encouraging someone to say NO when they mean NO is the best defense against exploitation, abuse, and mistreatment.”
The above quote - and many other facts about alternatives to guardianship - was presented by The Arc-JCCGC’s Ashly Ulrich, to an audience of special education teachers who deliver student-centered transition services in Jefferson County.
“Ashly took a huge amount of information and simplified it with great examples. She welcomed questions and made us feel comfortable. Most importantly, she kept it from being overwhelming," according to Pete, an attendee of the August 11 training at Rose Stein Cottages, a JTS satellite classroom in Lakewood.
Ashly said, “I feel the most important thing to note is that there is a myth in the IDD community that parents must obtain full legal guardianship of their adult children when they turn 18 to support them in adulthood. This is just not true. There are many alternatives to guardianship that offer the same supports, without having to legally strip someone of their ability to make decisions about their life.”
Many other options to guardianship are free and be implemented almost immediately. These alternatives can be used individually or in a combination that best suits a person’s individual support needs.
Regarding alternatives to guardianship, presentation attendee Dunbar shared, “Ashly was very knowledgeable on guardianship as well as the focus of really looking for alternatives instead of going straight to guardianship and with a person-centered approach - which is great to hear. I also enjoyed her realistic approach to the topics as well as how passionate she is on working with people she serves.”
This Alternatives to Guardianship presentation was our Child & Family Advocacy Team’s first training in a group setting since COVID began. Plans are being made to have a training session about Alternatives to Guardianship for parents and families, in addition to other in-person and virtual trainings.
The Arc – JCCGC can help families advocate for using an alternative, or combination of different choices to guardianship if they ever encounter a professional who isn’t familiar with the practice or doesn’t understand how it’s used.
Supported decision-making is one of the alternatives to full guardianship that was discussed and is a tool that can be used in place of or in addition to a guardianship alone or in combination with other alternatives. Information from The Arc of Colorado about supported decision making is available by clicking here.
To connect with The Arc – JCCGC and discuss alternatives to guardianship more in depth, fill out an online advocacy request by clicking here.