Speaking out for People with
 Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Get Help

VOR is a national advocacy organization representing individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Whether you are seeking services in a smaller setting or a licensed facility community, this site is dedicated to providing some background information to assist you on our journey, including information about licensed Medicaid facilities (ICFs/MR), Resource Links, Guardianship, Community Resource Centers, and more.

Visit often. We're always adding information.

Family Toolkit

Community Resources

Special Education

Legal Help

Medical Help

More Resources


VOR Position Paper: Guardianship vs. Supported Decision Making

VOR on Guardianship and Supported Decision Making

By Hugo Dwyer and VOR's Issues and Oversight Committee

Guardianship is the legal process whereby the courts appoint a person “to have the care and custody of a minor or of an adult who has been legally determined to be incapacitated.” (www.mo.bar.org) Guardianships are awarded to protect the individual from abuse, neglect, and exploitation and guardians are expected to act in the best interests of the individual concerning their residential, medical, psychiatric, behavioral, and financial needs. Legal guardianship is both a responsibility and a privilege.

VOR maintains that strong, well-monitored guardianships are essential to the protection and well-being of individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) who cannot make decisions for themselves. Our membership consists primarily of people who have family members with severe and profound intellectual and developmental disabilities, many of whom have multiple disabilities that may include chronic medical conditions, seizure disorders, visual or hearing impairments, mental illness, and/or extreme behavioral challenges. Many of these individuals function at an infant or toddler’s level although fully grown and need substantial support in every aspect of life. In most cases, our disabled family members have been adjudicated incompetent and a legal guardian has been appointed for them, most often a parent, a sibling or other close relative, or a family friend.

VOR on Guardianship and Supported Decision Making (SDM)

VOR Policy Statement on Guardianship and Supported Decision Making

Guardianship is the legal process whereby the courts appoint a person “to have the care and custody of a minor or of an adult who has been legally determined to be incapacitated.” (www.mo.bar.org) Guardianships are awarded to protect the individual from abuse, neglect, and exploitation and guardians are expected to act in the best interests of the individual concerning their residential, medical, psychiatric, behavioral, and financial needs. Legal guardianship is both a responsibility and a privilege.

Supported Decision Making (SDM) is a national initiative that promotes “a process in which adults who need assistance with decision-making ... receive the help they need and want to understand the situations and choices they face, so they can make life decisions for themselves, without the need for undue or overbroad guardianship”. Many advocates for SDM go further in explicitly supporting the elimination of guardianship. VOR believes that SDM is not a valid replacement for legal guardianship as it lacks standards, accountability, and proven effectiveness in protecting people with significant disabilities.