Education and Training

The Third National Guardianship Summit (2011) resulted in the Guardian Standards and Recommendations for Action, which calls for guardians to seek ongoing education concerning person-centered planning, surrogate decision-making, responsibilities and duties of guardians, legal processes of guardianship, and state certification of guardians (Standard #2.1). It recommends that courts ensure "sufficient ongoing, multi-faceted education" to those involved in the guardianship process, including guardians and court staff (Recommendation #2.1).

The National Probate Court Standards state that courts should develop and implement programs for the orientation, education, and assistance of guardians and conservators (Standard 3.3.14). While few states statutorily require that guardians receive training, most courts provide some level of orientation or education either through printed manuals, videos, on-line training and information, and in-person briefing sessions (many in multiple languages). Examples of training materials include the following:

Very few states require that family guardians be trained (see Nebraska's program for an example of required educational instruction for family guardians). Generally, the level of assistance provided to family guardians tends to be limited. An exception is New York State's Guardianship Assistance Network, which can help individuals take the steps needed to become official guardian, set up a guardian bank account, write reports and accountings required by the court, find services and help applying for government benefits, make a plan for the ward that allows as much independence as possible, and locate resources.

General training opportunities and professional affiliations are increasingly available through national organizations. The mission of the National Guardianship Association (NGA) "is to establish and promote a nationally recognized standard of excellence in guardianship." NGA encourages family guardians to join its organization by offering a discounted membership fee. Professional certification is available in a number of states or through the Center for Guardianship Certification (CGC).