The Oklahoma Department of Human Services Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) offers guardianship assistance to adults with developmental disabilities who are receiving services. DDS is seeking caring volunteers interested in supporting the health and safety of these individuals.

“Our volunteer guardians really make a positive difference in the lives of those they serve,” said Beth Scrutchins, Director of DDS. “In addition to promoting the rights of the individual with intellectual disabilities and helping to ensure their health and safety, the volunteer guardian develops an important relationship with that individual to support as much independence as possible.”

The need for a guardian is based upon a person’s ability to give informed consent. A person is considered incapacitated when he or she has a mental impairment that affects his or her ability to receive and evaluate information and make choices. Only a judge can determine whether or not a person is incapacitated through a guardianship hearing. DDS staff takes great care and caution in assessing the need for a guardian and in recommending an appropriate volunteer to serve in that role.

What is Guardianship?

Guardianship is a legal relationship that is established by a judge through a legal process. It can be general allowing the guardian to make certain major decisions for that person, or it may be limited giving decision-making authority to the guardian in only a few areas of a person's life. It may be ordered for only a limited time or even for a single decision.

Guardianship need not be life-long, nor is it an all-or-nothing deal. The guardianship relationship is designed to fit each person's needs and still allow the person to make as many life decisions as possible.

For more information about becoming a volunteer guardian, please contact DDS at dds.volunteerguardian@okdhs.org or by phone at 918-921-3694. Interested individuals may also learn more at http://www.okdhs.org/services/dd/Pages/GAp.aspx