The Arc of Texas Opposes Easing the Guardianship Process

The Arc of Texas submitted written comment on House Bill 1675 by Representative Steve Allison, a bill that would make it easier for parents to gain guardianship of their adult children. The Arc of Texas Director of Public Policy & Advocacy Ginger Mayeaux submitted the following comments to the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee on March 16, 2021.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input safely, during this odd session. I am Ginger Mayeaux, the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for The Arc of Texas. We promote, protect, and advocate for the human rights and self-determination of Texans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are opposing HB 1675 today based on our knowledge and experience over the past 70 years with individuals with IDD and there families.

The Arc of Texas believes the majority of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can manage their own affairs with informal assistance and guidance, or other alternatives to guardianship and do not need a guardian. We do also understand that there are circumstances where a guardianship may be required. However, those circumstances are the minority. The assumption that because a person has significant support needs means that they cannot or should not make their own decisions is inappropriate and dangerous.

Removing an individual’s rights and freedoms should not be an easy process. The current process for establishing guardianship is in place to ensure individuals rights are protected, their interests are represented by an unbiased party and their rights not removed unnecessarily. There are a range of options to provide appropriate support in decision making for individuals with IDD, who choose and need it. Those options range from least restrictive/least costly/easiest to establish to most restrictive/most costly/hardest to establish for good reason. Ensuring that the individual is appropriately represented throughout guardianship proceedings in court is an important part of the process to establish guardianship that should not be removed.

Over the past several years there has been more education and awareness of alternatives to guardianship options. Through these initiatives we have seen people with IDD repeatedly demonstrate that if they receive the proper supports, they can successfully make their own decisions. If the added protection of trying alternatives and of going to court is removed more people will be put in unwarranted guardianships and lose their basic rights.

All individuals have a right to self-determination and the freedom to make their own choices. We are happy to work with the office and families who are in need of assistance navigating the best ways to support their children as they age into adulthood, however, we do not support weakening the process of establishing guardianship. Individuals for whom guardianship is sought should have their interests adequately represented to the court and not discarded simply because of their disability.

Thank you again for the opportunity to comment.