In the summer of 2008, a group of 35 key stakeholder individuals and organizations from the southwestern Indiana region came together to form a task force to examine and discuss their shared concerns about the need for adult guardianship services in their area. Represented in the initial group were local and state hospitals, health care providers, developmental disabilities services agencies, aging services agencies, the courts, adult protective services, legal services providers, residential and long-term care providers, mental health providers, public social service agencies, community advocates and family caregivers. During the following year, the group met monthly as the Vanderburgh County Adult Guardianship Services Key Stakeholders Task Force. The Task Force focused its work on conducting a guardianship services needs assessment and developing a strategic plan to create and operate a nonprofit guardianship services agency to meet the need for adult guardianship services in Vanderburgh County and the southwestern Indiana region.
In September 2009, the Key Stakeholders Task Force incorporated as an Indiana nonprofit corporation and elected to adopt the corporate name of Guardianship Services of Southwestern Indiana, Inc. In the Articles of Incorporation, the corporation set forth as its purpose to promote and support the prevention of the exploitation of incapacitated adults and the elderly in Vanderburgh County by improving the quality and availability of guardianship services for adults ages 18 and older who are incapable of handling their own personal and financial affairs. The corporation also set forth that it may include in the future similar services and support for adults in the other southwestern Indiana counties.
Through its strategic planning process, the corporation determined that it would be a charity organization dedicated to providing no- or low-cost adult guardianship services using professional staff and trained and supervised community volunteers. The organization is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors whose members are self elected at an annual meeting. The fifteen (15) volunteer members of the Board of Directors serve two-years terms and meet monthly to receive reports from the Executive Director and standing committees; to provide oversight for the corporation finances; and to continue the planning and development of the organization’s programs and services.
Guardianship Services hired its first staff member in March 2010. The Executive Director is charged with establishing the administrative office, staffing the Board of Directors and Board Committees, overseeing the development of the organization’s programs and services, facilitating the establishment of the organization’s policies and procedures and working with the general public to promote the mission of the organization.
As part of its mission, Guardianship Services will sponsor regular community education meetings that provide individuals and organizations in the community with the opportunity to network and learn about the services and programs that support adults in need of guardianship services.
Southwestern Indiana was awarded an initial $75,000 start-up grant from the Arc of Indiana –Indiana Adult Guardianship Services Project in 2009. The grant was designated to cover the costs of incorporating the organization, setting up the administrative office, hiring the first Executive Director and recruiting, training and supervising community volunteer advocates to serve as guardians for incapacitated adults.