March 19, 2016 - Legal Aid’s Public Guardianship Project is serving some of our community’s most vulnerable residents. As you’ll read, we’ve helped many, many individuals avert emergency situations, but, like so much in our society today, the needs far exceed the budgets.
I’d like to educate you about our Public Guardianship Project and I hope you can find a way to further support our services.
Our project was established in 1994 with funding from the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners and the Retirement Research Foundation of Chicago to meet the critical legal, financial, and quality of life issues faced by the large number of indigent and incapacitated elderly residing in Palm Beach County.
Many of these older individuals lacked family, friends or other support when they encountered health related or financial difficulties. These problems would quickly escalate into an emergency situation placing undo and sometimes unnecessary burden on hospital emergency rooms, the courts, protective agencies, social services providers, and the public at large. The Public Guardianship Project was designed to take preventive measures to protect the health and welfare of the elderly individual before an issue reached a critical or emergency stage. While allowing clients to remain in the least restrictive living environment, the project’s mission is to plan for its wards’ (clients) immediate and future needs.
Initially the project was staffed by a supervising attorney, a social worker, a financial manager and a paralegal who worked together to provide comprehensive guardianship services to approximately 40 wards. By 2005, the state office of Public Guardianship provided additional funding to hire a second social worker and increased the number of wards served to 80. And by 2016, a third social worker was hired and the program was expanded to serve older individuals living in Martin, St. Lucie, and Okeechobee Counties which has increased our number of clients we support to 98.
Since the Public Guardianship Project’s inception, we have made great strides in meeting the needs of our clients who require public guardianship. However, there is still more that we can do.
Today, the project currently has a waiting list of 30 indigent incapacitated individuals needing evaluations for services and is continually advocating for additional funding to meet the needs of the growing population of fragile and vulnerable individuals in need of guardianship services.
Please consider a donation so we can continue to provide these vital services to many more individuals in Palm Beach County. Click here to donate.