Ohio Judges Trained on Cutting the Conflict for Elderly Care
By Anne Yeager | February 13, 2018
Ohio is at the forefront of a program aimed at helping resolve family disputes when it comes to taking care of their elderly loved ones.
Judges from all over the state recently gathered at a Probate Judges Association conference to train judges on the program, Eldercaring Coordination.
"The whole purpose of the program is to help avoid guardianship for elderly individuals," said Stark County Probate and Juvenile Judge Dixie Park. "Also, to allow them to keep their independence."
Since the Ohio Supreme Court launched the national pilot program two years ago, the program in Stark County has taken off.
"It's somewhat different from mediation in that the other elder care coordinators contact all the parties. It's not two parties, the plaintiff or defendant," said Judge Park. "It's the family and typically, there will be some caregivers involved."
The need comes when Ohio families find themselves internally battling over the safety and well-being of elders.
Heated disputes about vulnerable elderly family members and other caretakers have found their way into courtrooms with judges serving as referees in the disputes.
"It's very beneficial to me to try to encourage individuals to resolve disputes on their own, independent of a third party to decide for them," said Marion County Family Court Judge Robert D. Fragale.
Funding for the Stark County program came as a result of a $200,000 grant from the Department of Justice.
The program is able to answer judges' crucial questions on how to help resolve these very sensitive disputes.
"People have this sense that the court system is always attorneys standing and arguing and yelling at one another in the courtroom," said Delaware County Probate & Juvenile Judge David A. Hejmanowski. "What we are trying to do is to find the best result for people who come into the court system.
For those interested in getting training on this program, contact DisputeResolution@sc.ohio.gov or 614.387.9422.