Nov 3

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Guardianship Hands

NCSC launches guardianship projects in four states

NCSC researchers this fall began working on projects in Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Nevada to improve the efficiency of guardianships.

As these projects commence, pop star Britney Spears’ conservatorship case continues to receive an enormous amount of attention and has shone a light on guardianship and conservatorship cases nationwide. In September, NCSC Vice President David Slayton was among the witnesses who testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee during a hearing titled, “Toxic Conservatorships: The Need to Reform.”

The Spears case has opened the public’s eyes to potential abuses in guardianships and conservatorships, and court officials want to ensure that they are effectively monitoring them.

Here’s a brief snapshot of the new NCSC projects:

  • Maryland. Officials want to offer education and mediation to divert guardianship cases from the health-care-to-guardianship pipeline. The overall goal is to better understand the state’s adult guardianship system and reduce the number of unnecessary or overly broad guardianships.
  • Massachusetts. This project will create an Office of Adult Guardianship and Conservatorship Oversight within the Administrative Office of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court.
  • Minnesota. NCSC will conduct an assessment of the Minnesota Judicial Branch's guardianship and conservatorship system and provide a report that highlights its strengths and opportunities for improvement.
  • Nevada. This effort, which seeks to improve equity in the state's guardianship process, will increase the use of data in decision making. Nevada also wants to provide its guardians and judges with routine training and see greater consistency between judicial districts in guardianship administration and monitoring.

“We’re very excited that these projects will increase the use of less-restrictive alternatives to guardianships and improve data collection and monitoring in guardianship and conservatorship cases” said Diane Robinson, a senior court research associate who is directing the NCSC portion of the Maryland and Nevada efforts. “These projects come on the heels of the National Guardianship Summit and are consistent with the recommendations from the summit.”

All four projects, funded by the Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living, will last two years and involve mapping guardianship data to the National Open Court Data Standards and Conservatorship Accountability Project. The highest courts in Alaska, Oregon and New York also received funding for guardianship projects.

To read more about NCSC’s guardianship and conservatorship work, visit our Center for Elders and the Courts website.

Survey says: Should remote hearings stay or go?

That’s a key question asked in NCSC’s 2021 State of the State Courts survey. We recently surveyed 1,000 Americans on a variety of court-related topics, including whether courts can be trusted and if they’re on the right track in managing the challenges presented by the pandemic. Respondents also weighed in on whether they prefer remote or in-person hearings.

Join us at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Nov. 10 for a comprehensive briefing on this year’s results. Speakers will include Karl Agne, principal, GBAO Strategies; Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, District of Columbia Court of Appeals; Molly Justice, director of communications and online media, NCSC; and Jesse Rutledge, vice president of external affairs, NCSC.

Register now to reserve your seat!