The Alternatives to Guardianship project is in response, to the seeking of full guardianships as the only option to provide new adults with the supports they may need. When a full guardianship is put in place, the rights of that individual are terminated. We are providing information and tools to assist families in providing the supports an individual may need, while maintaining that individual’s right to choose.
Those of us working with Transition are aware of the changes youth will have occur when they turn 18 years of age. For youth with disability, additional rights and responsiblies occur within the school environment. Hopefully, we are preparing youth for these changes and providing them with the training needed to be successful adults. Unfortunately, just because a youth turns 18 years of age does not mean they have all the tools in place to independently address all of their needs. Parents or school staff are often concerned, as to how to protect these new adults from making decisions that may not be in their best interest, and full guardianship’s are pursed. We are starting from the place of what is the concern or need, and how could that be addressed to provide support while maintaining that person’s individual rights. The “It’s Not All or Nothing, Customized Options to Maximize Independence” draft brochure addresses four main areas of concern; Financial, Education, Legal and Medical. Options are provided and should be used based upon the needs of the individual youth. Additional information and options for community supports or considerations are also provided. At present, three consent documents are provided to be a guide in the development of individualized consent forms. The first address the school environment, and would be written to address providing supports needed with that environment. The second consent and exchange of information, is to provide supports within the medical field. The last consent while still in the medical area is to more specifically address the supports necessary within the mental health environment. All three documents have been reviewed by Disability Rights of Montana and were originally presented by Marsha Katz within the training she provided named “Alternatives to Guardianship”. We will continue to work on both documents, and are planning on completing a booklet which contains the finalized documents. We also plan on posting consent documents being used within our state as examples for families to use.