Our advocacy program is established to safeguard the right of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, to facilitate choice and to promote independence and inclusion in community life. The Arc provides advocates who, upon request can attend school, residential and vocational meetings. We provide crisis intervention and work to protect the rights of citizens in Pueblo with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We provide systems advocacy by promoting policies and legislation that impact the delivery of high quality supports for individuals and their families.
- Requesting educational assessments
- Reviewing assessments, individualized education plans (IEP), requesting accommodations and modifications
- Understanding special education policies and procedures
- Attending meetings to provide support
- Providing information, tips and suggestions to get the most from your child’s education experience
Multi-System Resources and Referrals
- Connecting you with community center boards and health care partners
- Providing referrals to local agency services and supports
- Making recommendations and referrals to other local organizations
- Helping connect individuals with resources within the DIDD system from institutional or medical facilities
The majority of adults who are developmentally disabled can manage their own affairs with informal assistance and guidance from family, friends, citizen advocates and service agency personnel. The adult acting on his own behalf must have some ability to foresee and appreciate future consequences of present day decision, actions, or failure to act. Consequently, some individuals may require the more formal protection and assistance provided by a guardian who is appointed by a court and is legally empowered to act on their behalf. The Arc believes the decision to seek guardianship should be made only to enhance rather than limit a person’s ability to exercise his or her rights. Barring evidence to the contrary and if they so choose, parents should be viewed as qualified and concerned guardians of their adult offspring who are developmentally disabled. If parents or other family members are unable to accept guardianship appointment, or are determined inappropriate by the Probate Court, The Arc of Pueblo can accept appointment and provide services through its court appointed agents.
Information Regarding Guardianship:
Parental Authority: When a person reaches age 18, a parent’s legal authority to make decision for that person ceases.
Needed for Guardian:
- The law presumes a person to be competent at age 18. The question of whether or not an adult with developmental disabilities needs a guardian poses a serious question. The deprivation of an adult’s right to make decision directly affecting his/her life is a serious matter.
- The appointment of a guardian requires that a petition be filed with the court which declares the person to be “incapacitated.”
- For persons with a mental incapacity so severe as to prevent them from significant decision making, guardianship offers both protection and enhancement of individual rights. The only consideration of the Court is whether or not an individual has the ability to give “informed consent.”
- Incapacitated Persons: Means any person who is impaired by reason of mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, advanced age, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication, or other cause to the event that he or she lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning his or her person.
- Guardian: A person, agency or corporation appointed by the Colorado Probate Court to represent the interest of, act on behalf of, make decisions for and substitute consent for a person declared to be incapacitate.
- Ward: A person for whom a guardian has been appointed. A “minor ward” is a minor for whom a guardian has been appointed solely because of age.
- Guardian ad litem: A person appointed by the court to evaluate a person for guardianship proceedings.
- Power of Attorney: Sometimes touted as an alternative to guardianship, it permits a person to transfer some or all authority over his/her life and estate to a person of his/her choosing.
- Due Process: The legal doctrine that guarantees statutory and constitutional rights.
Court Visitor: A person appointed by a judge to evaluate the alleged incompetent person.
The court must appoint a court appointed visitor who shall meet, interview, and consult with the person. The visitor will explain the basis of the guardianship petition, the nature, purpose and effect of the guardianship proceedings and the general powers of the guardian. The visitor must also determine the person’s views on the imposition of the guardianship, the scope of the guardianship and the appointment of the proposed person to be the guardian. The visitor is required to explain that the “incapacitated” person has a right to have an attorney, and if her or she cannot afford an attorney, the court will provide an attorney without cost.
Furthermore, the visitor must interview the person seeking appointment as guardian, visit the present home of the incapacitated person and the proposed future residence of that person, and interview any physicians or other persons who have counseled or given treatment to the allegedly incapacitated person in the recent past.
After making these visits, the visitor files a written report to the court that describes any current incapacity or disability of the incapacitated person, the fitness of the proposed guardian and any recommendation to limit the powers of the guardian. The report will include any expression of approval or disapproval by the incapacitated person concerning the guardianship and any request for appointment of an attorney to represent the incapacitated person. If such a request is not made, then the visitor should make recommendation as to whether or not an attorney should be appointed to represent he incapacitated person.
Authority and Responsibility of a Guardian:
- Any competent adult (residing in or out of Colorado) or suitable agency can be appointed as guardian.
- In appointing a guardian, the court considers the qualities needed by the guardian to fill this role effectively. Those qualities would minimally include an understanding of developmental disabilities and the individual and the ability to relate to the ward so as to understand and represent his or her needs and desires effectively.
- Guardians are responsible for acting in the best interest of their ward.
- Guardians are not liable for the actions of their ward.
- Guardians are not financially responsible for the “care and custody” of their ward.
- Guardianship is not a tool to manage problem behaviors. Guardianship’s are not designed to override or contradict a person’s wishes but to substitute consent.
- A guardianship can be altered or modified at any time by Court order.
- A guardian should be available for emergency services.
- A guardian can provide consent for medical treatment in accordance with the orders of the Probate Court. Referral to the Probate Court of decisions regarding withdrawal of treatment.
- A guardian must provide a written report to the Probate Court yearly on the status of the ward.
So you want to be a guardian:
Under the new statute there is not a provision for appointment of a temporary guardian. Instead, an emergency guardian may be appointed for up to 60 days if there is cause for concern of substantial harm to the ward’s health, safety or welfare. Appointment of an emergency is not a determination of incapacity. If a guardian is not performing effectively a temporary substitute guardian may be appointed for up to six months.
Reports that a guardian must submit have been expanded to include a personal care plan, accounting for assets within 60 days of appointment. Annual reports from the guardian are required that include: current mental, physical and social condition of the ward’s living arrangement; medical, educational and vocational services and adequacy of care; summary of guardian visits and actions, including the ward’s participation on his/her own behalf; information as to whether the current care plan is in the best interest of the individual; plans for future care; and recommendations as to continued need for guardianship or suggested changes to the guardianship.
If you are currently a guardian for an individual, or are considering becoming a guardian, please be sure you are familiar with the roles and responsibilities of such a decision especially in regard to this new statute.
The Arc of Pueblo works to protect people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families on the local, state and national level through our public policy efforts. We champion the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families and have achieved public policy victories on behalf of our constituency.
Our nearly 700 state and local chapters provide a voice at the local and state legislative levels for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Our chapters are vigilant in meeting the needs of our constituents. No other organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities comes close to the depth of The Arc’s reach into local communities.
Public Policy Agenda
Funding and policy changes to strengthen the CO Medicaid State Plan, state programs, and HCBS Medicaid waivers for people with disabilities to include support for:
- Full implementation of Colorado’s Olmstead Plan for community based services for people with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) with funding and flexibility to ensure necessary supports in community based settings for all—including people with complex conditions and the need for intensive supervision and monitoring;
- Creation of an independent Ombudsman program (similar to the existing Long Term Care Ombudsman Program) for people with IDD who receive services and their families;
- Expanding the Colorado Medicaid state plan to ensure that all people who meet level of care requirements have access to personal care, homemaker, health maintenance services, home health benefits and behavioral/mental health services;
- Increased service limits on Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Speech Therapy in the Medicaid state plan;
- Implementation of plans to ensure that competitive integrated employment is the first and preferred option for people with IDD, regardless of level of disability;
- Amendment to the Colorado Olmstead plan to include supports for competitive employment;
- Increased funding for family support including respite and other services needed to maintain family stability;
- Expansion of Mental Health/IDD crisis stabilization and intervention pilots; and
- Expansion of Inclusive Higher Education programs to Denver metro area and Western slope.
- Options for self-direction and individual control of budgets in Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waivers as well as Medicaid state plan benefits;
- Increases for Supported Living Services waiver levels
- Retention of the IDD Cash Fund
Colorado students with disabilities have a legal right to free, appropriate educational opportunities in all public schools, including charter schools, with accompanying supports in the least restrictive environment. Colorado must provide for:
- Special education services provided in the least restrictive setting by qualified teachers, staff and therapists for all eligible students including an appropriate continuum of services, para-professional support, and related supports including transportation;
- Adequate medical, nursing, and behavioral support services for students with complex needs;
- Meaningful transition services for students with disabilities must be person-centered, including preparation for continuing education, work-based experiences resulting in competitive integrated employment, and successful community living;
- Prohibition of prone restraint in all schools;
- Adoption of reporting standards regarding all examples of restraint and seclusion in schools;
- Establishment of a complaint and grievance process for families in cases of restraint and seclusion.
Coloradoans with disabilities prefer to live, learn, and work in their community of choice. State systems must be made transparent, simplified and strengthened to ensure ready access to community living including:
- Consistent standards for enrollment in HCBS/DD waiver for emergency cases;
- Assurance that services will be available for persons (if desired) when the family caregiver reaches the age of 75;
- Replace the Children’s Habilitative Residential Program (CHRP waiver) to allow for necessary out of home placement for children without accessing the child welfare system;
- Medicaid waiver simplification to create a single HCBS waiver for all eligible adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities with access to services and supports when and where needed throughout their lifetimes.
Protection of civil rights for people with disabilities including:
- Policies for authorized representatives to ensure that the needs and choices of people with I/DD are respected and honored;
- Consideration of a voluntary state issued identification card for persons with IDD;
- Examination and reform of requirements for Imposition of Legal Disability for persons at Regional Centers as well as those in community based service;
- Independent monitoring of all Colorado Regional Centers;
- School discipline policies that provide behavioral supports for students with disabilities that minimize restraint and involvement of law enforcement;
- Limit the use of emergency interventions only to those situations where a student’s unexpected behavior poses a clear and present danger of serious physical harm to him or herself and others and require that only staff currently trained and competent apply restraint, and time-out interventions;
- Fair treatment of juveniles with disabilities in the criminal justice system to avoid incarceration and implementation of restorative justice programs for all citizens; and
- Guardianship policies and practices that respect the right of people with disabilities to manage their own affairs with informal assistance and guidance from family, friends, and others. If guardianship is essential, it should be used only to the extent necessary, with a presumption in favor of limited rather than full guardianship.
The Arc’s advocacy team conduct numerous training’s for a variety of audiences throughout the year that empower people with disabilities and their families to achieve their dreams. Classes currently being offered include:
- Self Advocacy
- Parent Advocacy
- Professional Development