A new group established to improve Kentucky’s adult guardianship program has held its first meeting recently. House Joint Resolution (HJR) 33, passed during the recent legislative session, recommended creation of a WINGS program to examine adult guardianship and identify needed changes.
WINGS stands for Working Interdisciplinary Network of Guardianship Stakeholders.
Guardianship occurs when a court appoints an individual or entity to oversee the care and well-being of an adult who is incapable of self-care. Many such individuals are elderly with no close family relatives.
Kentucky utilizes both public and private guardians. The public guardians work within the Department of Aging and Independent Living, part of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS).
Concurrent with passage of HJR 33, the legislature passed House Bill 5, the first legislative overhaul of guardianship in Kentucky since the 1980s. The new statutes go into effect July 14.
CHFS Deputy Secretary Timothy Feeley said WINGS can help guardianship advocates achieve better outcomes for individuals who need assistance making health and legal decisions.
“As our elderly and disabled populations grow, it is essential that our safety net services for this vital portion of our community keeps pace,” he said. “We must care for those among us who cannot care for themselves, while concurrently working to build self-sufficiency where possible.”
The effort is coordinated jointly by CHFS and the Administrative Office of the Courts(AOC). Twenty-six representatives from agencies throughout the state who work with our adult population were present and participated, exchanging suggestions for improving guardianship care. Subcommittees were formed to examine topics to include legislation and policy and education and outreach.
WINGS will report annually to the legislature regarding care of this vulnerable population with recommendations for building a stronger support system. Kentucky is the 25th state to adopt a WINGS program.
If you are interested in contributing your time or ideas to this cause, contact the AOC’s Karen Waugh by email at Karenwaugh@kycourts.net.