Update on WINGS: The Judicial Branch’s Statewide Guardianship Initiative
By Beth Schwartz, Court Publications Writer
In July 2017, under the aegis of the judicial branch, 40 guardianship stakeholders from across Florida gathered in Tallahassee to share their unique perspectives on adult guardianship and to identify key issues that need to be addressed in situations in which a court has appointed someone to exercise certain legal rights of a person who, because of some incapacity, has been judged unable to exercise those rights independently.
With a one-year grant and technical assistance from the American Bar Association and the National Center for State Court, this initiative, called Florida WINGS (Working Interdisciplinary Networks of Guardianship Stakeholders), is a court-community partnership designed to improve practices in adult guardianship. Strictly planning-oriented at this point, Florida WINGS is developing a collaborative approach to improving the ability of state and local guardianship systems to develop protections less restrictive than guardianship; to advancing guardianship reforms; and to addressing abuse.
WINGS Summit Meetings
At this first summit, WINGS stakeholders identified four areas on which they believe this initiative must focus: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation; Alternatives to Guardianship; Process Improvement and Standardization; and Education and Awareness. At the second summit, in October—by happy coincidence, National Guardianship Month—stakeholders came together to lay the groundwork for developing a long-range plan for WINGS (participants worked on crafting vision and mission statements; they also discussed issues and efforts on which they can work collaboratively in the geographic region they represent). Once crystallized, the long-range plan will denote specific goals and strategies for improving processes in and increasing the effectiveness of Florida’s guardianship systems.
Strategic Planning Process
To inform this strategic planning process, broad-based feedback is being sought from people whose lives are touched, or may be touched, by guardianship: among them are judges and court personnel, state agencies, private and government attorneys, families, guardians, and other interested parties.
WINGS is taking a two-pronged approach in this outreach endeavor: a survey instrument (which will be posted online at the end of November) and two public hearings (December 11, 2017, in Broward County and February 1, 2018, in Orange County). The goal is to gather information about, and identify areas of need and concern regarding, the current state of guardianship, the public perception of guardianship, and other ways of providing decision-making assistance in Florida.