Autism Housing in New Jersey

Mt Bethel Village. Autism Housing in New Jersey.

What Guardianship Means to Your Family

Carolann Garafola, Executive Director of Mt. Bethel Village.

As your teenager approaches 18 years of age, parents and guardians need to start thinking about the answers to these questions, and do so a couple years before his/her 18th birthday:

  • Is it important that my son or daughter is under my guardianship as a parent?
  • Does my child have the capability of making decisions about where he/she will live?
  • How will this 18 year old spend and manage money?
  • Who will make decisions about medications, health and/or treatment of illnesses or decide where to continue school and for how long?
  • Once the adult/child graduates from the school district, what is planned for the post secondary world of work?

Every parent wants to enhance their adult/child’s life and protect them through the learned skills of self-advocacy, and have their adult/child continue to learn functional skills in the least restrictive environment. There are a number of steps to take that should be a team effort between parent and upcoming adult/child. Parents need to begin the discussion of emancipation versus guardianship with their teenager at least by 16 years of age as your child needs to be part of this process. This is probably something that should be discussed whether your child has special needs or not. This discussion should be conducted with your child’s educators, and with support personnel who are part of his/her life.

Parents need to be realistically concerned about the cognitive capabilities of their child, the maturity level and any other needs that he or she has. Once again, seeking assistance from those who educate and support your child at school, in the community and within the family is critically important in this decision-making effort.

If you are going to file for guardianship, it will take specific documentation to justify to the courts why this is necessary and the process can be very long and costly. There are attorneys and organizations that can help in this effort to obtain guardianship and speaking with other parents can be very helpful in taking that road as it is not an easy one.

Therefore, speaking with others who have been through this process and asking them where they obtained help can ease the trip on the road to adulthood and guardianship for you for your adult/child or not.

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