RD1 - 2016 Biennial Report - Virginia Public Guardian and Conservator Program

Executive Summary:
The Virginia Public Guardian and Conservator Program, within the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), continues to respond to the documented need for guardians of last resort for adults aged 18 years and older who are incapacitated and indigent and have no other person willing and able to serve as his or her Guardian when needed.

Current Statistics – $500,000 Investment (Fiscal Year-2016)

In the 2015 session of the General Assembly, $500,000 was allocated for statewide expansion and an additional 100 client slots, to address the unmet need in unserved areas of the Commonwealth (i.e., counties of Dickenson, Russell, Halifax, Mecklenburg, Surry, Greenville, Brunswick, Dinwiddie, Prince George, Sussex, Patrick, Henry, Pittsylvania, Lee, New Kent and Charles City). Significantly, as a result of this funding and for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, 100% statewide coverage has been achieved. Public guardianship services are now available in every jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, including those jurisdictions in more rural areas of the state. The current program has capacity to serve 706 persons.

Current Trends – Utility of the Supportive-Decision-Making Model (SDMM) (House Document No. 6-HJR 190, 2014)

The SDMM comports well with DARS’ mandated person-centered practices in Virginia law and regulations for public guardian service providers. SDMM may also, in cases where appropriate, assist in reducing the statewide waiting list by providing a less restrictive and cost effective alternative to the publically funded guardianship program.

Current Challenges – Complexity of Cases, Leveraging Resources and Circuit Court Petitioning Costs

The complexity of cases continues to increase and may prove unsustainable unless we are better able to leverage community resources. The cost of petitioning a court for guardianship (legal fees and capacity evaluations) has also become a barrier for some in obtaining guardianship services when needed.

The Virginia Public Guardian & Conservator Advisory Board (VPGCAB)

The VPGCAB continues to serve as a valuable technical resource and advisor for the Program and is commended. DARS concurs with the attached recommendations of the VPGCAB.

Partnership with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS)

Many vulnerable adults have transitioned from training centers to the community. This successful outcome was accomplished with the working collaboration of DBHDS. In addition, DBHDS has provided valuable training and technical assistance for public guardians.

Pro-Active Education Focus

As more agencies and nonprofits grapple with an increasing demand for services (without a corresponding increase in funds), partnerships will grow increasingly important to leverage finite resources. Pro-active education is an important key in educating the public about alternatives to guardianship before guardianship becomes necessary.