In Session: The Virginia Public Guardianship Program

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Thanks to the advocacy work of VPLC and many others, the House of Delegates budget includes additional funding at $500,000 for the Public Guardianship Program. The Virginia Public Guardianship Program is a program of last resort for indigent adults who are incapacitated and in need of someone to help them make medical, financial, and daily living decisions when no suitable family member or friend is available to serve.

A court-appointed public guardian’s service can

  • Enable a move from a training center or nursing home to the community;
  • Protect an individual from financial exploitation, abuse and neglect;
  • Enhance the individual’s quality of life.

We appreciate the work of Delegate Chris Peace as patron and Delegates Garrett, Landes and Ingram who were co-patrons on the House budget amendment. Unfortunately, the Senate budget does not include additional public guardianship funding so we still have work to do. As you may know, once each body has rejected the other’s budget, the budgets will go to a conference committee of 6 Delegates and 6 Senators to work out a compromise budget. Our next step is to contact the budget conferees to encourage them to include additional funding for the Public Guardianship Program in the compromise budget—to support budget item 326 #2h.  Additional funding for the Public Guardianship Program is needed because:

  • The program, coordinated by the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, is currently operating at maximum capacity, serving 606 persons with a waiting list of nearly 1,000 (fall 2014).
  • 16 counties of the state—primarily in southern and southwest Virginia—have no public guardianship program.
  • Rising costs, with level or reduced funding over the last few years, means additional funding is necessary to stabilize the existing programs.
  • Individuals served by the program may present significant behavioral and other challenges that require constant monitoring and intervention.  The eventual closing of state training centers and the re-entry of aging prisoners into the community are likely to increase the demand for public guardians and to pose additional challenges to the program.
  • Our most vulnerable Virginians are served at an annual cost of approximately $5,000 per person.  The benefits of the program to these individuals greatly outweigh the minimal cost to the state.

The budget conferees are already at work to reach a compromise budget to be voted on by both bodies by the end of session, so we’d like to ask you to please take a moment and contact the budget conferees below to ask them to support budget item 326 #2h.  Please be sure to let the budget conferee know if you are also one of their constituents.

Here is the contact information for the budget conferees.

Del. Chris Jones 804-698-1076
Del. Kirk Cox 804-698-1066
Del. Tag Greason  804-698-1032
Del. Steve Landes 804-698-1025
Del. Johnny Joannou 804-698-1079
Del. John O’Bannon 804-698-1073
Sen. Charles Colgan 804-698-7529
Sen. Emmett Hanger 804-698-7524
Sen. Janet Howell 804-698-7532
Sen. Thomas Norment 804-698-7503
Sen. Richard Saslaw 804-698-7535
Sen. John Watkins 804-698-7510

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