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New Guardianship Program To Be Statewide Model

A new training and education program under development by the York County Court of Common Pleas will be used as a statewide model to help educate individuals and organizations on the duties and rights of legal guardians.

Guardians are responsible for the care and property interests of incapacitated individuals. The need for guardians is expected to increase as the Baby Boomer generation ages and because of growing community responsiveness to elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The goal of the new training program is to help prepare both York County and Pennsylvania to responsibly accommodate the increased need for guardians in the coming years.

“The Pennsylvania Data Center projects that York County will be home to nearly 98,000 seniors by 2015,” said York County Court of Common Pleas Judge Penny Blackwell. “We have an obligation in York County and throughout Pennsylvania to prepare for the fact that some of these seniors will need help with their affairs as they age.”

Development of the new training program will be led by two nationally certified local guardians in close coordination with Court staff, Judge Blackwell and an advisory panel composed primarily of local attorneys and officials with the county aging office.

A $50,000 grant awarded by the State Justice Institute will pay for the effort. The grant includes $25,000 from the State Justice Institute, a $5,000 match from the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts and $20,000 of staff time and supplies provided by the York County Court of Common Pleas.

The new program is part of an ongoing commitment by the Court to proactively address guardianship issues. The York County Court of Common Pleas in 2011 established the Pro Bono Guardianship Monitoring Program, which created an added level of protection for certain incapacitated residents through additional oversight of a guardian’s activities.

Under the program, local attorneys at no cost monitor local guardianships to protect against fraud and other forms of financial malfeasance.

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