According to an Area 10 Agency press release, Indiana is one of the few states that “does not have a state-supported public system of providing adult guardianship services for the indigent.”
The release goes on to state that though the need for these services is increasing in Indiana, support from the state has yet to rise, which will leave the elderly with limited resources through private institutions and volunteer pro bono attorney services.
“We have seen a huge need in our community to expand greater access to guardianship services for vulnerable at-risk people with nowhere else to turn,” Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal said in the release.
In order to help make services more readily available, Indiana created the Adult Guardianship Task Force, which pushed for legislative reform concerning senior care. The legislature responded with funding for the Indiana Supreme Court to “implement a Volunteer Advocate for Seniors or Incapacitated Adults or VASIA program.”
This program is run by volunteers trained by a guardianship program who are then designated by a judge to advocate for elders struggling with their affairs, according to the press release.
To attain a guardianship, the court will appoint a guardian to a person of need, and he or she will be responsible for handling the financial and legal proceedings. The appointed guardian will help elderly community members who are unable to make decisions for themselves due to ailments such as dementia or brain injury.
The presence of a guardian is meant to assure safety and respect for the person in need as well as to keep the person in need from getting financially and legally exploited, abused or neglected.
An appointed advisory board for the project helped raise the funds necessary to commence plans for the project, securing a grant from the Office of State Court Administration along with 25 percent of the grant in local matching funds from the Perry Township Trustees, the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office and the Monroe County Council’s Sophia Travis Community Service Grant Program.
“We are now pleased to announce $38,500 in-state grant funding that we will use to create a volunteer guardianship program that will serve our local community,” Area 10 Executive Director Kerry Conway said in the release.