Wednesday, May 30, 2007

PA Guardianship Reform Report Issued by JSGC

On Tuesday, May 29, 2007, the Joint State Government Commission, through its Working Group on Guardianships, issued a formal report to the Pennsylvania Legislature, entitled "Report on Guardianship Law in Pennsylvania", dated May, 2007.

A three-paragraph introduction to the Guardianship Law Report was posted by JSGC on that date here, along with the Report's full text (PDF, 112 pages) here. For those involved in guardianship procedures in Pennsylvania, I believe that this Report should be considered "required reading".

The Guardianship Study Group was constituted on May 11, 2005, by a unanimous vote (196-0), of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, upon House Resolution 131 (Printer's No. 1861). HR 131 was sponsored primarily by Rep. Glen Grell, together with 33 other co-sponsoring Representatives.

The purpose of the Guardianship Study Group was set forth in HR 131, as follows:

A Resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to review current guardianship statutes and programs and make findings and recommendations on the effectiveness of these statutes and programs in meeting the needs of vulnerable incapacitated persons.
For further background about the ad hoc "working group" comprised of many interested organizations & individuals, and that group's subsequent review of existing guardianship law & procedures in Pennsylvania, see my prior postings on the PA EE&F Law Blog: The members of the Guardianship Study Group included: Alternates for represented organizations included:
  • Administrative Office of PA Courts: Nichole Duffy
  • PA Department of Aging: Anna Marie Borro, James Bubb, & Debra Carroll
  • PA Department of Health: Jennifer Ebersole & Dwayne Heckert
  • PA Department of Public Welfare: Jackie Cunningham, Dan Fellin, Ginny Rogers, & Glenn Williams
  • PA Health Care Association: Michael Jacobs
  • Registers of Wills & Clerks of Orphans’ Court Association of PA: Bradley Jacobs (York Co. Reg/Wills & OC Div Clerk)
    This is the introduction to the Report:
    Guardianship Law in Pennsylvania

    House Resolution 131 of 2005 (Printer’s No. 1861) directed the Joint State Government Commission (JSGC) to review current guardianship statutes and programs and make findings and recommendations on their effectiveness in meeting the needs of vulnerable incapacitated persons. The JSGC formed the Working Group on Guardianships, and Representative Glen R. Grell, the prime sponsor of House Resolution 131, became the Chair. The working group consisted of professionals with expertise in guardianship law, including attorneys, judges, representatives of the court system, guardianship providers, advocates for disabled and older individuals, law professors and representatives from Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), the Pennsylvania Association of Non-Profit Homes for the Aging (PANPHA), the Pennsylvania Association of County Affiliated Homes (PACAH), and the Pennsylvania Departments of Aging, Health and Public Welfare.

    On January 26, 2006, the working group held its organizational meeting to discuss the scope of the study and the issues for consideration. The working group then held six subsequent meetings, on April 27, 2006; July 20, 2006; September 28, 2006; November 16, 2006; January 19, 2007 and March 28, 2007. Throughout its deliberations, the working group reviewed and discussed data and other background information, statutory law, bills before the General Assembly, case law, the JSGC report of May 1996, the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act, and guardianship and court practices across the Commonwealth. In addition, the working group members shared their expertise and personal experiences regarding guardianship practices and procedures.

    This report reflects the findings and recommendations of the working group, along with proposed legislation and official comments. The official comments may be used in determining the intent of the General Assembly. This report also contains background information on the AAAs and PACAH, including the surveys distributed by the JSGC. Finally, this report contains working group policy considerations regarding data collection, the monitoring of guardians, funding, education and training, government oversight, access to records and reporting requirements.
    On a later date, in another posting, I'll review the contents of the Guardianship Study Report.