Volunteer guardians needed to support developmentally disabled adults

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Department of Human Services Developmental Disabilities Services is seeking caring individuals who are interested in becoming volunteer guardians.

Developmental Disabilities Services provides guardianship assistance to adults who have developmental disabilities. The agency is seeking volunteers who can help look after the health and safety of developmentally disabled individuals.

“Our volunteer guardians really make a positive difference in the lives of those they serve,” said Beth Scrutchins, Director of DDS. “In addition to promoting the rights of the individual with intellectual disabilities and helping to ensure their health and safety, the volunteer guardian develops an important relationship with that individual to support as much independence as possible.”

Guardianship is described in the news release as a legal relationship established by a judge through a legal process.

The guardianship could either be general – allowing the guardian to make certain major decisions for that person – or it may be a more limited form that gives the guardian decision-making authority in only a few areas of a person’s life. Also, the guardianship may be ordered for only a limited time or even for a single decision, according to the news release.

“Guardianship need not be life-long, nor is it an all-or-nothing deal. The guardianship relationship is designed to fit each person’s needs and still allow the person to make as many life decisions as possible,” the news release states.

Whether or not a person needs a guardian is determined by the person’s ability to give informed consent, according to the news release.

“A person is considered incapacitated when he or she has a mental impairment that affects his or her ability to receive and evaluate information and make choices. Only a judge can determine whether or not a person is incapacitated through a guardianship hearing. DDS staff takes great care and caution in assessing the need for a guardian and in recommending an appropriate volunteer to serve in that role,” the news release states.

For more information on how to become a volunteer guardian, contact Developmental Disabilities Services at dds.volunteerguardian@okdhs.org or by phone at (918) 921-3694. You can also click here if you are interested.

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