Washington Courts: Press Release Detail
Clallam, Grays Harbor, Okanogan, Pierce and Spokane counties chosen as pilot locations for Washington’s new Office of Public GuardianshipJune 23, 2008
Clallam, Grays Harbor, Okanogan, Pierce and Spokane counties chosen as pilot locations for Washington’s new Office of Public Guardianship
Completing a major milestone in establishing the availability of public guardianship services for citizens in Washington, the new Office of Public Guardianship (OPG) has announced the five counties chosen as pilot program sites to begin offering these critically needed services.
Effective June 12, Clallam, Grays Harbor, Okanogan, Pierce and Spokane counties became the first countiesto establish public guardianship services for incapacitated persons in Washington.
Each site will initiate measures to protect the individual rights of low-income incapacitated persons, provide the least restrictive living alternative, provide services based on community collaboration, and comply with all mandates in an effort to improve the quality of life for program clients.
A guardian is a surrogate decision-maker appointed by the court to make personal and/or financial decisions for a person the court has determined to be at significant risk of personal or financial harm because of inability to adequately provide for nutrition, health, physical safety or management of financial affairs. Though many incapacitated persons have family members who can volunteer to serve as guardians, or have resources to hire professional guardians, a large number of incapacitated persons have neither.
“We are so pleased that Spokane County has been selected as one of the first pilot sites,” said Spokane County Superior Court Judge Kathleen M. O’Connor, upon learning of the selection. “This is a much needed program that will make a world of difference in the lives of the most vulnerable members of this community.”
The program was created by the 2007 Legislature with the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 5320. The bill established the Office of Public Guardianship within the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). The Legislature appropriated $1.483 million to develop and implement pilot programs in a minimum of two areas, one urban and one rural.
Public guardians are expected to help incapacitated persons enjoy self-determination by providing individuals with adequate opportunities to direct their own lives, make choices and learn self-determination skills, enabling them to participate in their lives and communities.
With pilot sites and the public guardians selected, the OPG and the public guardians will work together to develop effective programs and compile and communicate best practices in each community.
The OPG in collaboration with the Washington State Institute of Public Policy will conduct a study to evaluate services, benefits, costs and savings demonstrated by the pilot public guardian programs.
CONTACT: For more information regarding the Office of Public Guardianship, contact Shirley Bondon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360.705.5302 or visit www.courts.wa.gov.
Attachment: List of 2008-2009 pilot public guardians.
Washington State Office of Public Guardianship
2008-2009 Pilot Project Guardians:
· CLALLAM COUNTY: Clallam County will be served by two non-profit agencies, Bridge Builders and Concerned Citizens. Bridge Builders is a for profit agency providing care management services to the elderly and persons with disabilities in Sequim and Port Angeles, since 2002. Bridge Builders employs two certified professional guardians, Mindi Blanchard and Brenda Carpenter. Concerned Citizens is a non-profit agency with operations in Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties providing home care programs for children, adults, and senior citizens with disabilities, since 1979. Concerned Citizens employs two certified professional guardians, Linda Middleton and Bonnie Hurd. Concerned Citizens will provide public guardianship services to West Clallam County.
o Contact: Mindi Blanchard 360.683.8334
o Contact: Bonnie Hurd 360.452.6855
· GRAYS HARBOR: Elaine Werb operates Coastal Guardianship & Fiduciary Services, a sole proprietorship. Elaine has served as a paralegal since 1981, working in the elder law arena since 2001. During this time, she developed exceptional skills and knowledge of probate and guardianship matters. She will provide public guardianship services in Grays Harbor.
o Contact: Elaine Werb 360.537.1355 or 360.591.0202
· OKANOGAN COUNTY: Okanogan County’s public guardian is Renee Ewalt. Renee has been a certified professional guardian since 2001. Renee is a licensed attorney with extensive training and experience with alternative dispute resolution. Past work experience includes, Administrative Law Judge for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and Crisis Intervention Outreach Counselor for Comprehensive Mental Health Center.
o Contact: Renee Ewalt 509.476.3286
· PIERCE COUNTY: Loralee McDonell-Williams’ background and training is in the paralegal field with specific experience in elder law. Loralee’s organizational skills and knowledge of technology will serve her and the incapacitated persons she serves well. Loralee will serve as the public guardian for Pierce County.
o Contact: Loralee McDonell-Williams 253.861.1634
· SPOKANE COUNTY: Peggy McIntire brings to her guardianship practice a wealth of experience in social work. She has worked with many vulnerable populations including hospice patients, homeless veterans, and students with disabilities. Peggy will provide public guardianship services to Spokane County.
o Contact: Peggy McIntire 509.328.3216
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