ICI’s Partner on Alternatives to Guardianship Project Featured in the New York Times

President Emerita of the Human Services Research Institute (HSRI) Valerie J. Bradley wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times, thanking the authors for their op-ed, “A Better Alternative to Guardianship.”

Alternatives to guardianship are options that youth with disabilities can use to get the support they need to make decisions about their lives. Conversations about guardianship and its alternatives often come up as young people with disabilities transition to adulthood.

For accessibility, we have included Valerie’s letter, published on April 17, 2023 in the New York Times:

To the Editor:

Thank you for “A Better Alternative to Guardianship,” by Emily Largent, Andrew Peterson, and Jason Karlawish (Opinion guest essay, April 5).

As they note, the overuse of guardianship robs people of agency in their own lives. Those with guardians are left out of important conversations about their future, they don’t develop the skills necessary to make life choices and they are prohibited from entering into legal agreements, managing their money or getting married without the guardian’s consent.

Because the individual has been deemed legally incompetent, the guardian signs any legally binding contracts, co-signs any disbursements and, depending on the state, may have to sign the marriage license.

For people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, families are all too often counseled when their family member leaves school to seek guardianship.

Nationwide data from the National Core Indicators indicates that among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities receiving services, a staggering 45 percent are under some form of guardianship. Supported decision-making, described in the essay, provides a much-needed alternative to this denial of rights and agency.

Valerie J. Bradley
Cambridge, Mass.
The writer is president emerita of the Human Services Research Institute.

The Human Services Research Institute (HSRI) is a partner on the ICI’s Center on Youth Voice, Youth Choice (CYVYC), a resource center that promotes research, advocacy, and education about alternatives to guardianship for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Learn more about the CYVYC project and alternatives to guardianship!