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Guest Blogger: Linda Kendall Fields, Cares at UNC Chapel Hill School of Social Work

The holidays are upon us! For me, it’s a time to reflect on the NC Rethinking Guardianship “Making Alternatives a Reality in NC” initiative and its accomplishments in 2022 as well as the years of hard work and perseverance leading up to this moment.

It’s a time of profound gratitude to those who have served on large & small workgroups – all of you who care so deeply about supporting the decision-making rights of elders and adults with disabilities. Many thanks to our funder, the NC Council on Developmental Disabilities for your abiding trust in us to demonstrate results and true impact.

I send a Special THANKS to the following hard-working teams:

Outreach: Laurel Powell, Gale Kirk, Cheryl Walfall-Flagg, Beverly Colwell, Ali Climo

Statute Writing: Nancy Warren, Carol Kelly, Angela Ellis, Stacey Skradski, Athena Kinch, Rosalyn Pettyford, Cynthia Ross, Frank Johns, Linda KF, and Larkin Taylor-Parker, who left us for a national position with ASAN in April

I marvel at your steadfast commitment to our Common Agenda to promote less restrictive alternatives to guardianship while improving the current guardianship system!

During 2022, we were successful in:

  • Refreshing a robust website filled with important stories and information
  • Creating a blog to share the experiences and perspectives of our stakeholders
  • Producing “Supporting Choice and Self-Determination” Guides as well as other materials and videos in English and Spanish
  • Measuring impact through a Feedback/Satisfaction survey on the website
  • Sharing information through a poster session at the Exceptional Children’s Conference, “Disrupting the School-to-Guardianship Pipeline for Youth with I/DD”
  • Promoting choice within and outside of guardianship arrangements for those considering a transition to the community from licensed facilities
  • Completing adult guardianship reform proposals that have been successfully handed off to the NC Bar Association, with a very real potential for reform legislation in 2023

In 2023…

We will continue our many outreach and education efforts to schools and communities across the state!

And look for announcements in early 2023 about reforms to General Statute 35A, which governs adult guardianship in North Carolina.

This reform will support guardianship protections & prevent unnecessary guardianships, including ensuring that every person for whom guardianship is sought has a clear understanding of their rights, both before and after guardianship; giving courts effective tools for review and oversight to make sure guardians are fulfilling their responsibilities; and using guardianship only as a last resort if no less restrictive alternative is sufficient to support decision-making.

For now…take a deep breath! We need you in 2023.


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