Young adults we serve who live with disabilities are often unable to make life and medical decisions for themselves when they age out of our child welfare system at 21. The same is true of senior citizens (over age 60) in our Adult Protective Services program who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. If there are no family members to help, these individuals require legal guardians.
As you might expect, the waiting list for our young adults to receive guardians is long. An attorney who helps with our senior citizens is swamped and cannot take on new cases.
A guardian is crucial to a person’s quality of life. Guardians make all day-to-day decisions of a personal nature on behalf of the individual, including medical and dental treatment, behavior-support strategies, work, residential placement and quality-of-life decisions. Without a guardian, a child or senior citizen does not have someone to make critical decisions about their medical care.
One example: a young man who recently emancipated from our care has severe kidney problems. He is developmentally disabled, non-verbal and unable to make decisions about his medical treatment. Without our caseworker, who knows his extensive medical history and can provide other types of non-medical information to doctors, his care is left in the hands of whomever is treating him at the time and decisions are made in a vacuum.
Guardians are appointed through probate court. Anyone can become a legal guardian. Guardians must fill out required paperwork, consent to criminal background checks, complete online or in-person training and submit bi-annual reports to the local probate court. For more information, and to find the necessary paperwork, visit the Hamilton County Probate Court website: https://www.probatect.org/forms/guardianship. To become a guardian of someone in the agency’s Adult Protective Services program, contact Stephanie Hull at 946-2369 or Tamara Harrison at 946-1244.
There is a free in-person training coming on May 11 and on July 13. The Adult Guardian Fundamentals training runs from 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is being held in Batavia, Hamilton and Columbus. For more information on trainings, visit https://judicialecademy.ohio.gov/CourseSearch.aspx
There is a great need for guardians in Hamilton County. Can you help?