PO Box 20605
Abuse Hotline 1-800-252-5400
is the Guardianship Program?
Guardianship is a formal, legal process where
a court appoints and monitors someone, called a Guardian, to make
decisions for a person, called a ward, who does not have the capacity
to make decisions. When a person is unable to provide food,
clothing or shelter, or to care for his or her own physical health,
and to manage his or her own financial affairs due to a mental or
physical condition, he or she may be found to be without capacity or
“incapacitated.” The purpose of guardianship is to protect
persons from abuse, neglect, including self-neglect, and exploitation,
and to provide for their care and the appropriate management of their
services does the Guardianship Program provide?
Specially trained case managers ensure that
adult wards maintain the highest degree of independence, dignity and
respect, while protecting them from abuse, exploitation and neglect,
including self-neglect. The case managers ensure the wards are in
safe environments, and their daily needs such as food, clothing, and
shelter are met. The case managers are responsible for arranging
and consenting to all medical, psychiatric and surgical treatment, and
managing and protecting the wards’ finances and property.
Guardianship services continue until the wards improve to a point where
the Court finds them fully capable of handling their own affairs; until
the Courts appoints successor guardians, such as family or friends; or
until the wards die.
is the history of the Guardianship Program?
1992 the Guardianship Program was organized under the Harris County
Social Services Department. The Harris County Commissioners Court
created the Guardianship Program to provide management and monitoring
services to indigent persons who were deemed incapacitated by the
Probate Courts and who needed a legal guardian to handle their affairs.
The Harris County Guardianship Program is the county’s “guardian of
last resort” for those residents. Prior to 1992, Courts
appointed private attorneys as guardians.
On March 8, 2003, the Guardianship
Program, with 46 staff members and 1,287 wards, was transferred to
Harris County Protective Services for Children and Adults under the
leadership of Ms. Jan McLaughlin, Program Director.
At the program’s inception, the caseload
consisted of 23 wards. Over the past 16 years, there has been a
dramatic increase in the number of incapacitated Harris County adults,
ages 18 and older lacking family members or friends to serve as their
guardians. Currently, the Harris County Guardianship Program is
providing guardianship services to over 1400 wards and is the largest
guardianship program in the State of Texas.
is the Guardianship Process?
guardianship process is initiated when someone concerned for an
adult’s well being, contacts a doctor, a Probate Court or the Abuse
Hotline, 1-800-252-5400. A licensed physician must evaluate a
person’s capacity and complete a
Assessment Form. The capacity assessment form is
delivered or mailed to the Harris County Probate Courts, located at the
Civil Courthouse, 201 Caroline, 8th Floor, Houston, Texas, 77002.
receipt of the capacity assessment, a Probate Court Investigator will
investigate the circumstances alleged. If the Court Investigator
determines guardianship may be appropriate, a referral is made to the
Guardianship Program and an application for guardianship is filed with
the Probate Court. A Probate Judge conducts a hearing and
determines whether the individual is incapacitated. If incapacity
is found and the ward is indigent, and there are no family members able
to serve, the Probate Court appoints the Harris County Guardianship
Program as guardian.
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