Disability Rights Texas — Stakeholder Training on Guardianship Alternatives

Statewide Need
Guardianship is a legal tool that removes the civil rights and privileges of a person by assigning control of their life to someone else. Though Texas law directs courts to encourage maximum self-reliance and independence, attorneys, judges, providers, and parents do not necessarily have the knowledge or appreciation of available alternatives to guardianship that balance well-being and rights while preserving self-determination. A recent study found that more than 50% of people placed in guardianship are individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who are turning 18. Due to the complexity of guardianship cases and serious loss of liberty facing individuals for whom guardianship is being considered, policy and practice to advance alternatives is needed.

Project Goal
Provide information and training to targeted audiences about alternatives to guardianship, including the new supported decision-making process. Target audiences include individuals with IDD and their families, legal professionals, school administrators and service providers.

Project Summary
Guardianship and alternatives play a critical role in efforts to support individuals with IDD to direct their lives. The guardianship and alternatives process can be confusing for individuals with IDD, families, providers, and professionals. Legislative action in 2015 to reform the guardianship process in Texas now directs courts to encourage maximum self-reliance and independence of individuals, but many legal professionals, providers, and families do not have the knowledge of alternatives to guardianship.

Disability Rights Texas (DRTx) collaborated with stakeholders, including Guardianship Reform and Supported Decision-making (GRSDM) Workgroup members, to develop, test, and revise SDM and alternatives to guardianship training and presentation materials for specific audiences. An outreach plan was developed with input from a project advisory committee to target individuals with IDD, families, caregivers, and professionals. Law clinics with volunteer attorneys were conducted to assist in the execution of SDM agreements. DRTx conducted outreach, submitted proposals to train at state and local conferences, and partnered with organizations to train volunteers to provide information about alternatives to guardianship in their communities.

As a result of education and training efforts, more people with IDD, their families, providers, and legal professionals are aware of guardianship reforms and alternatives aimed at supporting the independence and self-determination of individuals with IDD, including the SDM process. More individuals with IDD have opportunities to express their preferences and choices and to make or participate in decisions that affect their quality of life and their future. Additionally, more Individuals with IDD, families, caregivers, and professionals have information and reference materials regarding the 2015 Texas guardianship reforms.

  • Impact
    • More than 120 training events were conducted
      • 4,433 individuals participated in these training sessions
    • 5 legal clinics were conducted
      • More than 70 individuals executed SDM agreements and other alternatives to guardianship
    • Judges and attorneys better understand 2015 and 2017 guardianship reforms and are better prepared to identify and institute alternatives to guardianship and supports and services
    • Individuals with IDD and their caregivers who received training and information have new options for SDM when school, medical, or other service providers advise or advocate for guardianship
    • More individuals with disabilities have opportunities to express their preferences and choices and to make or participate in decisions that affect their quality of life and future

Project Period
Feb 2016 – Jul 2018

2222 W. Braker Ln. Austin, TX 78758 512-454-4816

Geographic Reach

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