ADVOCACY SERVICES AND AGENCIES
There are several agencies and services designed to advocate for individuals with disabilities and their families. Advocacy services are there to help you. They are used for consulting, are available to assist when difficult and confusing situations arise (e.g. pursuing Social Security Benefits) and are available to provide information on your rights. An advocate can be a great support for an individual with a disability and their families. When choosing an Advocacy Service/Agency remember to inquire about their expertise, fees and how their assistance is provided (e.g. hands on assistance vs. telephone consultation). The following are a few resources:
DuPage Center for Independent Living
739 Roosevelt Road Building 8 Suite 109
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
Phone: (630) 469-2300
Resource information, advocacy services, and self-empowerment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Everyone is Welcome, Inc.
3 S. Second Street
St. Charles, IL 60174
Phone: (630) 584-0970
Fax: (630) 584-7130
Provides an array of consultation services to increase the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
Great Lakes ADA & Accessible I.T. Center
UIC-Institute on Disability and Human Development
1640 West Roosevelt Rd.
Chicago, IL 60608
Phone: (312) 413-7756 or (800) 949-4232
Offers consultation and interpretation on issues related to the American’s with Disabilities Act and information technology.
Equip for Equality, Inc.
11 E. Adams St., Suite 1200
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (800) 537-2632 or (312) 341-0022
A comprehensive advocacy and legal provider with the focus of advancing the human and civil rights of Americans with disabilities
Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission (IGAC)
P.O. Box 7009
Hines, IL 60141
Phone: (708) 338-7500
Intake Contact: (866) 274-8023
Protects and enforces the rights of individuals with disabilities through: Office of State Guardian (appointed “guardian of last resort” for a person with a disability) and Legal Advocacy Service (legal advice and representation)
Guardianship Services Associates
41 A South Blvd.
Oak Park, IL 60302
Phone: (708) 386-5398
Fax: (708) 386-5970
Offers counseling information and referral related to guardianship and alternatives to guardianship. Can process guardianship in Cook Co. courts, but can provide information to anyone.
Thomas J. Reilly
1163 E. Ogden, Suite 705-354
Naperville, IL 60363
Phone: (630) 681-1119
Provides an array of advocacy services and supports as well as family planning services for people with disabilities.
What is guardianship? A Guardian is someone legally vested with the power to make decisions on behalf of their ward.
Guardianship is not automatic. Many parents of young adults with severe disabilities are surprised to learn that, after their child reaches adulthood (age 18), they (the parents) are no longer legal guardians. Guardianship of minor children by their parents is a given, unless taken away by the court; guardianship of any adult must be granted by the court.
Although a young adult who is severely disabled may remain in the family home, for all practical purposes the responsibility of his or her parents, in the eyes of the law he or she is competent until proven otherwise. This is true even in cases where most people would agree that the person is clearly incapable of self-direction.
Persons without guardians are legally capable of making their own decisions. The fact that parents are not legal guardians may not cause problems for the family in many circumstances; most adult service providers will naturally include involved family members in decision-making and planning in any case. However, it is important to realize that, without legal guardianship, parents do not have a legal right to enforce their decisions about their adult child. Service providers such as hospitals, residential programs, vocational programs, etc. are legally obligated to treat a service recipient as capable of making his or her own decisions unless that person has been adjudicated incompetent.
For the most part, this just means that the young adult will have to sign (or mark) consent forms, releases, etc. himself in order for them to be legally valid. This usually does not pose a problem. If, on the other hand, a young adult who is disabled does not agree with his parents about a decision ( for instance, where to live, where to work, with whom to associate, etc.), the service provider has no legal right to over-ride his decision in favor of the parents’ wishes. Similarly, a person who has not been declared incompetent has the right to refuse permission for his parents to receive information from service providers.
When parents are divorced, or the family disagrees about important decisions for the young adult with a disability, lack of guardianship can become a volatile issue. Without guardianship, service providers have no legal right to treat one family member as the “official decision-maker” for the person. This can be very frustrating for a parent who has been responsible for this person throughout most of his or her life.
Why obtain guardianship? If a person is incapable of making or communicating responsible or safe decisions, guardianship puts this decision-making power in the hands of someone more capable.
Types of guardianship. The courts differentiate between guardianship of the person and of the estate. Guardianship of the person gives the guardian power to make decisions about personal life, such as where the person should live, what medical procedures they should undergo, whether they may marry, etc.. Guardianship of the estate gives the guardian the right to make decisions about the management of the person’s property and finances. Plenary guardianship includes both person and estate.
Co-guardianship is also available and encouraged as an option. In that case, more than one person shares the responsibilities of guardian: for instance, a mother and father, or a parent and sibling of the person. For older parents, co-guardianship with a non disabled sibling can make a lot of sense because it provides a natural way to pass on the guardianship responsibilities upon the event of the parent’s death. The court will not automatically award guardianship to other family members if the guardian passes away. If no one petitions the court to become guardian, the person will become a ward of the Office of State Guardian.
Limited guardianship is another option. Limited guardianship is a court order customized to fit the precise needs of the individual with a disability. Every family should consider limited guardianship prior to pursuing plenary, person or estate guardianship.
An alternative to guardianship. Durable Power of Attorney is an alternative to guardianship. Individuals who are in need of only minimal intervention by a substitute decision maker may be more appropriately protected by use of a Durable Power of Attorney either of the person or of property or both. This does not require a court hearing.
How to seek guardianship. To obtain guardianship, the potential guardian must first petition the court to have the person declared incompetent. Although the term “incompetent” sounds pejorative, all it means in a legal context is that the person is not able to make or communicate responsible and safe decisions unassisted.
If the court accepts the petition, a guardian ad litem will be appointed. This is usually an attorney, selected by the court, who is responsible for overseeing the person in question until a permanent guardian is appointed. Usually, the guardian ad litem does little beyond meeting the person and giving the court an opinion as to whether there is any reason to consider the need for guardianship.
At the same time, a physician’s statement must be obtained certifying that the person is permanently and significantly disabled to the point of being incapable of self-direction.
If these steps support the contention that the person needs guardianship, and no-one opposes the petition to have the person declared incompetent, the court will issue a declaration to that effect and award guardianship. Unless there are other parties seeking guardianship, or opposing the award of guardianship to the person who initiated the proceedings, the court will simply give guardianship to the person requesting it.
Where to find assistance in seeking guardianship. If the family has a lawyer, it may be easiest to retain him or her to initiate the petition to the court. If the family has no lawyer, or is concerned about cost, they should contact the Office of State Guardian for information about how to proceed. Some legal assistance groups are available to help families obtain guardianship at less than the usual legal cost. Families are encouraged to use an attorney experienced in dealing with persons with disabilities and guardianship. The following are a list of attorneys experienced in dealing with individuals with disabilities and their families:
ATTORNEYS EXPERIENCED IN DEALING WITH
INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES
AND THEIR FAMILIES
1755 S. Naperville Rd. Suite 200
Wheaton, IL 60187
Phone: (630) 221-1755
225 W. Washington, Suite 2300
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: (312) 419-0252
225 W. Washington, Suite 2300
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: (312) 419-0252
3345 N. Arlington Heights Rd., Suite D
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
Phone: (847) 818-1138
Kupish & Carbon
201 N. Church Rd.
Bensenville, IL 60106
Phone: (630) 595-4520
405 W. State Street
Rockford, IL 61101
Phone: (815) 962-1910
33 N. Dearborn
Chicago, IL 60602
500 Skokie Blvd., Suite 350
Northbrook, IL 60062
Phone: (847) 564-0001
33 N. Dearborn, Suite 801
Chicago, IL 60602-1196
Phone: (312) 782-3193
Richard J. Tarulis
101 N. Washington St.
Naperville, IL 60540
Penn & High
59 Ogden Ave.
Clarendon Hills, IL 60514
Phone: (630) 963-0110
L. Mark Russell
820 Davis St., Suite 215
Evanston, IL 60201
Edwards, Jordan & O’Connor
6 W. Downer Place, PO Box 908 Aurora, IL 60507
Phone: (630) 897-1534
Note: This information and listing does not imply endorsement by the DuPage County Transition Planning Committee. Families should explore options and make decisions that fit their needs.