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Jordan Institute workshop group recognized for efforts to improve state guardianship system

The Jordan Institute for Families’ Rethinking Guardianship Statewide Workgroup has been selected to receive the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Dorothy R. Crawford Award.

The award, presented by the Division of Aging and Adult Services, “recognizes an individual or organization that has developed innovative strategies related to, or having a significant impact on, the lives of older adults through Adult Protective Services or guardianship.”

The workgroup, which includes clerks of court, civil rights lawyers, university experts, state health and human services staff, and other disability advocates, was cited for its efforts to ensure that the rights of individuals with disabilities are equal under the law to those without disabilities. The diverse group of stakeholders has been working diligently to improve the state guardianship system and promote less restrictive alternatives since early 2015. Faculty and staff at the School of Social Work, including Gary Nelson, Tamara Norris, Mary Anne Salmon, and Barbara Leach, have played a significant role in this effort.

The award was presented last month during an adult guardianship summit in Raleigh. Facilitated by Linda Kendall Fields of the Jordan Institute for Families, the event drew nearly 300 participants. The summit opened with messages of support from the Offices of Sen. Richard Burr and Sen. Thom Tillis, both of whom contributed to a report on guardianship released by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging in November 2018.

Among those presenting at the summit were:

  • Raj Premakumar of the N.C. Department of Justice, who provided an overview of the seven topic areas identified for reforming and amending North Carolina General Statute 35A, which defines guardianship in the state.
  • Sean Brady, a grounds worker and student in the Horticulture Department at Alamance Community College, who shared his story of guardianship and successfully seeing his rights restored.
  • The Hon. Kim Sigmon, Catawba County Clerk of Superior Court, who shared how the Rethinking Guardianship initiative has assisted clerks in adopting new practices and perspectives in the courtroom and
  • Erica Wood, National WINGS coordinator of the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging, who gave the keynote “Rethinking Guardianship Nationally and in North Carolina: Changing Law, Practice, Hearts, Minds.”

For more information about the state’s Rethinking Guardianship initiative:

To read more about the Summit in the North Carolina Health News: