This video scenario highlights the educational coursework being developed by the Supreme Court's Ohio Judicial College to help those who serve as adult guardians with new requirements under rules that take effect on June 1.
The amendments under Rule 66 in the Rules of Superintendence for the Courts of Ohio approved by the Supreme Court justices are meant to raise the standards to ensure the best interest of wards is safeguarded.
"These are the minimum standards, so the courts can build on this and tailor them to their needs. I'm grateful that the courts will take a look at these. The probate judges will individually look at them and consult with their staff and figure out how they can make these rules work and enhance these rules for their local jurisdiction," Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said.
Among the new rules, courts will adopt local rules to address emergency guardianship procedures and establish a complaint process.
There's a mandatory education requirement for a one-time fundamentals course and continuing education annually for all guardians.
At the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging, Certified Master Guardian Julia Nack coordinates 120 volunteer guardians in six counties. To prepare for the new rules, Nack has been reviewing forms and procedures and meeting with court officials in each of the counties the agency serves.
"Operationally, yes, it's causing a few problems here and there. It certainly is going to be challenging for the courts as well, we know that, but the end result, I think, is better care for the people who need a guardian," Nack said.
"There've been problems within the guardianship system where people have left the individuals out of the decisions that are being made," said Derek Graham, attorney of record for Advocacy and Protective Services, Inc. that provides guardianship to more than 4,000 adults with developmental disabilities.
"The new rule provides an emphasis that guardians have to include the individual. It involves person-centered planning, and it redefines best interest from a standpoint of keeping the individual at the forefront of the decisions that are being made. It empowers them, and it enables the guardian to make the decisions that truly are in the best interest of the individual," Graham said.
Information about the new rules, including education requirements, is available on the Supreme Court's website.