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Assessing the Potential Need for Public Guardianship Services in Washington State

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Mason Burley - December 2011

In 2007, the Washington State Legislature passed Substitute Senate Bill 5320, establishing an Office of Public Guardianship (OPG) within the Administrative Office of the Courts. This new pilot program provides state-paid guardians for legally incapacitated individuals in cases where a volunteer guardian was unavailable and the individual lacks financial resources.

The pilot program started in five counties throughout Washington State, and now provides services in ten counties. While a limited number of incapacitated individuals were served during this pilot period, initial estimates (completed in 2005) found that 4,500 individuals may be eligible for a public guardian in Washington. This estimate, however, was based on research conducted over 20 years ago in different states.

This report uses two different sources – 2009 census data, and a 2011 survey of care providers – to estimate the need for public guardianships services in Washington State. Based on this analysis, we found that between 4,000 and 5,000 individuals may be potentially qualify for a public guardian. The need for these services is also classified according to region and type of care setting.

Report ID: 11-12-3901

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