The Guardianship Program serving Miami-Dade County is a role model for the rest of the country.
The Guardianship Program of Dade County, Inc. is a non-profit agency which acts as the Public Guardian for indigent adults who are adjudicated incapacitated and reside in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The Guardianship Program (GPDC) began operating in 1980 as a pilot project administered and housed by Jewish Family and Children Services. Initially, this demonstration project was funded through the federal Older Americans Act, and named Guardianship Program for the Elderly of Dade County.
From the outset the project was envisioned to assist those adults of very limited means and with little if any family support. Initially, we served only adults 60 years of age or older. In 1990, having earned the trust of the community and the Courts, we were recognized and appointed by the Chief Judge to be the Public Guardian for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. That year the Program also started serving all adults as of the age of 18.
The Program is quite unique not just in Florida but around the country. For starters, the Guardianship Program is the state’s oldest and largest of public guardianships as we handle roughly 50% of all the state’s cases. This represents approximately 1,600 persons during the course of the year. As Public Guardian for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in Florida, GPDC handles more cases than all of the other 19 Circuits combined.
We Serve those that are among the most vulnerable. They are the frail elderly, the developmentally disabled, others maybe that are HIV-infected, and an increasing number of younger, mentally ill adults that require court intervention and assistance.
Unfortunately, most have either no family or no one able, or willing to act on their behalf. In many instances the involvement of a guardian will safeguard a person from a situation where they are being neglected, abused or exploited by others including family.
Another reason we are unique is that we have an open intake process and receive new clients through a court-appointed process regardless of their medical diagnoses, personal histories, mental stability or the complexity of their case. Because GPDC serves all Miami-Dade County, our client population represents all ethnic backgrounds, speaks multiple languages, and has many challenges.
Rest assured we are a routinely audited agency, and by various oversight entities. Per a recent State monitoring report summary: “The Guardianship Program reflected a very well organized and effective program that met or exceeded all contractual and statutory requirements.” And from the Social Security Administration they noted: “your record keeping system is excellent.”
Under Florida Statutes Chapter 744, Guardianship Program of Dade County acts as the legal guardian of last resort.