As a parent of a child with a disability, you probably have a thousand worries for the future. How can my child best succeed in school? What kind of job will suit him or her? What will I do when he or she is an adult? For many parents in Arizona, guardianship is a sensible approach to helping adult children live a more fulfilling life.
You may be considering acting as your child’s guardian or thinking of placing someone else in that role. There is no single correct answer, and each family’s needs will dictate which arrangement works the best. However, before you decide what works best, it is important to understand how guardianships work and can benefit adult children with disabilities.
What does a guardian do?
For adults with physical or mental disabilities that limit their ability to earn a living, fully care for themselves or otherwise live independently, guardianships are important. Without a guardian, these adults might not receive the necessary care and treatment they otherwise need. Many more may not receive the opportunity to engage in meaningful work or the ability to make choices regarding their own lives.
In many ways, guardians act as advocates for their wards. However, this does not mean that they have total control over another person’s life. Indeed, in most instances, the ward’s desires are most important when important decisions are at stake. A guardian may help in any of the following ways:
- Help with financial decisions
- Make important medical decisions
- Facilitate ongoing care and treatments
Guardianships do not limit independence
Parents often yearn for the day when their child is an adult who can support themselves. Your desires for your child are likely no different, although there are likely hurdles to get past along the way. Utilizing a guardianship is a great way to give your child independence while still ensuring their ongoing care.
A guardian can serve as your child’s guide through life. Rather than micro-managing his or her daily life, a guardian can help your child develop the necessary decision-making skills that all adults need. However, he or she will also step in and make decisions on your child’s behalf when necessary.
Who can be my child’s guardian?
Courts appoint guardians for adults with mental or physical disabilities, and these individuals usually must be at least 18 years old without any serious criminal charges on their record. Your child’s wishes are also important, and courts will take his or her preference into account. In many cases, parents, siblings or other family members are common choices for guardians.
Watching your child take their first steps into adulthood can be frightening and exciting all at once. However, if your child has any type of disability, you need to consider your options for helping him or her live the best possible life. For many families, a guardianship either alone or in combination with other services is an effective and smart choice.