Speaking out for People with
 Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

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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.

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VOR Position Paper: Guardianship vs. Supported Decision Making

Issues to Consider Regarding Guardianship and Supported Decision Making

By VOR's Issues and Oversight Committee on Guardianship Rights

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their parents, family members and guardians may have heard about Supported Decision-Making (SDM), an initiative that could affect their decision-making rights. Some see SDM as an alternative to guardianship, while others view it as an attempt to remove the legal instrument that provides a safety net for vulnerable individuals.  

VOR is a national organization that advocates for high quality care and human rights for individuals with I/DD. We understand the valuable role that guardians play in the emotional and physical well-being of their wards. As advocates who appreciate the diversity of the I/DD community and the need for a wide array of supports, we want to ensure that guardians and family members are aware of the issues connected to Supported Decision-Making so that they can make informed decisions about the care of their loved one with disabilities.

VOR on Guardianship and Supported Decision Making (SDM)

VOR Policy Statement on Guardianship and Supported Decision Making

Guardianship is the legal process whereby a state court appoints a person to have the care and custody of an adult or child who has been determined to be legally incapacitated. Parents are the assumed legal guardians of their minor children, but a guardian may be appointed for a child if the parents are not able to fulfill that role. An incapacitated adult is one who has been determined by a court to lack capacity to make some or all personal and/or financial decisions and for whom a guardian has been appointed.

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.