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for Children and Adults

2525 Murworth
Houston, TX. 77054
Phone: 713-394-4000

This page was last updated

September 25, 2014

 

 

GUARDIANSHIP PROGRAM

PO Box 20605

Houston, Texas 77225-0605

713-363-2300

Texas Abuse Hotline 1-800-252-5400

 

EXPLORE GUARDIANSHIP

What 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 property. 

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What 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.

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 What is the history of the Guardianship Program?

In 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.

 

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What is the Guardianship Process?

The 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 Capacity 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. 

 Upon 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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To report abuse or neglect call Texas Abuse Hotline1-800-252-5400 or go to www.txabusehotline.org.

Note: The 1-800 number is monitored 24 hours a day.
E-mail messages are not monitored daily.


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