Dignity and choice sought in guardianship alternative in Nevada

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - From protection to support. 

That's the move state leaders are making as they work toward an alternative to guardianship. 

It's part of the statewide changes set in motion by a years-long Contact 13 investigation that changed lives and laws. Today marks the next wave in the sea of change for guardianship reform. 

A District Court judge is leading a team that will travel across Nevada looking to give power and dignity back to seniors and adults with disabilities who would otherwise be conscripted into guardianship.

Second Judicial District Judge Frances Doherty is spearheading the effort to fulfill a fundamental promise: the right to make choices in our own lives with the support of trusted family and friends. 

The system of supported decision-making is being proposed as a less-restrictive alternative to traditional guardianship. 

It maximizes independence and responsibility by allowing trusted supporters to help affected adults make life choices about housing, health care, education, employment and social matters.

Traditional guardianship doesn't allow you to make final decisions. Depending on the guardian, you may not get to make any decisions at all. 

That makes the system ripe for the type of abuse exposed in our guardianship series -- many of our stories about private guardian April Parks. 

Parks and her associates, who've been accused of being a criminal syndicate, are awaiting trial -- accused of exploiting the vulnerable adults they were court-appointed to protect.

The supported decision-making outreach group will hold events in Northern Nevada starting today. 

They'll be in Clark County this fall.

Anyone interested in a visit should contact Jackie Bryant (Jackie.Bryant@washoecourts.us) or Diana Zuccarini (Diana.Zuccarini@washoecourts.us), the administrative assistant to Judge Doherty. Diana's number is: 775-328-3470.

The outreach group is trying to maximize the groups Judge Doherty will be able to meet with while in Clark County.

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