Virginia's public safety net includes public guardianship for adults who are:
The Division for Community Living contracts with human service agencies across the Commonwealth to provide public guardianship services. A public guardian visits with each client, personally, at least once a month, and depending on the client's needs, supervises medical care, oversees residential care, monitors social service benefits, and advocates on the behalf of the client. A public guardian can, at the direction of a Virginia Circuit Court, also serve as conservator for individuals who are indigent and in need of public guardianship but have some minimal financial assets that need to be disposed of or managed. The Virginia Code provisions governing the program appear in Sections 15.5-149 et seq. The regulations appear in 22 Virginia Administrative Code Section 30-70-10 et seq.
Here are links to two short videos with additional information about the Virginia Public Guardian & Conservator Program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5HXcg_OZD0 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXnQI1l4jkE.
Every two years the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services provides a report to the Virginia General Assembly on the status of the program. Copies of the two most recent reports can be found here.
The steps to obtain a guardian through the Virginia Public Guardian & Conservator Program are:
In the case of individuals who were diagnosed before the age of 18 with an intellectual disability, or before the age of 22 with another developmental disability, the referral for public guardianship should be made through the Community Services Board (CSB) serving the community where the person in need of guardianship services resides rather than directly to the LPGSP. CSB support coordinators should use the procedures found at http://www.dbhds.virginia.gov/developmental-services/training-centers to make the referral.
Presently, the program has the capacity to serve 1,049 incapacitated individuals across the state. To ensure a high quality of service, the number of people any particular LPGSP can accept is capped based on the size of the LPGSP; therefore, space in the existing programs is somewhat limited. If an opening is not available for a person who appears to be eligible for public guardianship services, the LPGSP will place the person on a waiting list and the referral source will be notified when an opening becomes available. The limited size of the local public guardian programs makes finding possible alternatives to public guardianship extremely important.
A private citizen may be appointed by a court to serve as guardian for an incapacitated individual. The Virginia Public Guardian & Conservator Program does not monitor or regulate the performance of private guardians. The Virginia Supreme Court has prepared materials providing an overview of the court process used to appoint a guardian and/or conservator for an incapacitated adult in Virginia and a basic description of the roles of guardian and conservator. The materials can be found at the following links:
This information relates to guardian and conservatorship generally and does NOT specifically address public guardianship.
A Virginia court’s decision that an individual is incapacitated and in need of a guardian or conservator will limit the individual’s to make legal decisions for themselves. Other, less restrictive, options that do not involve a court process, may be available to support individuals who need assistance with decision-making. A pamphlet discussing those options is available on the Virginia Supreme Court’s website and can be found at the following link: Options in Virginia to Help another Person Make Decisions: Choices Less Restrictive than Guardianship and Conservatorship
Questions regarding the program may be directed to the Program Director for the LPGSP for your geographic area or to:
Patti G. Meire
Coordinator, Virginia Public Guardian & Conservator Program
Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
1610 Forest Ave., Suite 100
Henrico, VA 23229
The Virginia Public Guardian & Conservator Program strives to provide and meet high standards for all clients served. If you believe that a person receiving public guardianship services is being treated inappropriately or unfairly, please follow the complaint process.