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.