National Guardianship Network Names State Courts for Guardianship Improvement Awards

Volume: 34 Issue: 5

The National Guardianship Network (NGN) is pleased to announce four awards of incentive grants and technical assistance to states to create innovative, consensus-driven Working Interdisciplinary Networks of Guardianship Stakeholders (WINGS). By combining the efforts of all stakeholders into WINGS, states can better improve judicial processes, protect individual rights and meet needs, address insufficient funding, and ensure guardian accountability and fiduciary standards.

The experience of these initial WINGS groups will help NGN to develop a “replication template” for states interested in creating similar networks to consider how adult guardianship is working in the state and what changes could be made to improve the process, benefiting vulnerable adults affected as well as the state.

Funding for the grants was generously provided by the State Justice Institute and the Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation Center on Law and Aging.

After receiving proposals from the highest court in a number of states, NGN selected four applicants:

  • New York: The New York Court System, working with the Vera Institute of Justice, will design and implement a broad-based New York WINGS group to assess needs and establish priority areas for action.
  • Oregon: With leadership from the Oregon Judicial Department and the Oregon State Unit on Aging, Oregon WINGS will undertake a needs assessment, develop short- and long-range goals and objectives, and begin to initiate priority outreach, training, pilot programs and reform.
  • Texas: The Texas Office of Court Administration will establish Texas WINGS and engage the group in strategic planning to identify problems, prioritize issues, and set goals, which will be presented to the Texas Judicial Council.  
  • Utah: The Utah WINGS will organize a statewide summit to explore, propose, and implement solutions to three endemic guardianship problems. Based on the experience from this initial project, WINGS will draft a charge for ongoing work as a standing committee of the Utah Judicial Council.

Two additional states already have such consensus and problem-solving groups in place. In Ohio, an interdisciplinary Subcommittee on Adult Guardianship has been established under the state Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Children, Families & the Courts. In Missouri, MO-WINGS grew out of a broadly inclusive task force convened by the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council.

The creation and sustainability of state WINGS groups was a key recommendation of the 2011 Third National Guardianship Summit convened by NGN at the S.J. Quinney College of Law of the University of Utah. For Summit Standards and Recommendations, as well as 10 background papers, see the Utah Law Review, Vol. 2012, No. 3.

For additional information on state WINGS, contact the Commission’s Assistant Director Erica Wood at 202-662-8693 or Erica.Wood@americanbar.org.

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