Guardianship — the most undercovered issue of our time?

I am glad to see Amanda Morris at the NYT pick up the ball:

But advocates for people with disabilities say guardianships have been used too broadly, including in cases of individuals with psychiatric disorders and developmental or intellectual disabilities who, the advocates say, do not require such intense or continuous oversight.

“I should have never been under guardianship, because I was always independent,” said Mr. King, 38. “Don’t judge me before you get to know me. Everyone needs help sometimes.”

Once a guardianship has been imposed, it can be difficult to undo. Mr. King’s parents, who say they reluctantly sought a guardianship for him in 2003 after being urged to do so by social services workers, attempted to have a judge rescind it in 2007. They say they faced barriers for years, including opposition from a court-appointed lawyer for Mr. King in the case.

“Judges are used to putting people in guardianships; they’re not used to letting them out,” said Jonathan Martinis, a lawyer the family eventually hired. The guardianship was finally revoked in 2016.


About 1.3 million people live under guardianships in America, according to a 2018 estimate from the National Council on Disability. They include older Americans who can no longer manage their affairs, but also many younger people, including some with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Studies suggest that the number of people under such arrangements has more than tripled in the past three decades.

Whatever you think our policies should be, is it not amazing how unwilling we have been to discuss these choices?  And how about this?:

Only 14 states require guardians to obtain some sort of credential for the role, with a majority requiring certification from a nonprofit organization called the Center for Guardianship Certification.

Whether you think that number should be zero, fifty, or somewhere in between, how many of you even knew that in the first place?  Or heard of the Center for Guardianship Certification?

And do read the story of Jenny Hatch toward the end of the article, this is essential journalism.  Some of these cases, while they lack all of the elements of slavery, have some of the essential elements.

1.3 million Americans.  What is the chance here that our policies are being optimized?


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