The University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Donahue Institute

2017 Publication Archive

Fiscal Implications of Establishing a Public Guardianship Agency in Massachusetts: Evidence from Four State Studies

The Guardian Community Trust (GCT), a non‐profit organization in Massachusetts, advocates the creation of a public guardianship agency in the state. The goal of the agency would bevto provide guardianship services for individuals who lack either appropriate family members or friends to fulfill that role, or the financial resources to hire a private guardian, or both. A recent study found that thousands of adults in Massachusetts may meet these criteria yet lack guardians, and that three state agencies currently fund public guardianship services for about 900 clients (Moye et al., 2016).

Two primary reasons are typically offered for providing public guardians. First, they improve the quality of life of vulnerable individuals, such as by connecting them with needed services, improving their social connections, and providing emotional supports. Second, they reduce costs incurred by public agencies, such as by arranging for transfers to less expensive residential settings, helping clients to live at home rather than in institutions, and preventing financial exploitation that results in accelerated need for public resources. GCT hired the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute (UMDI) to develop evidence regarding the second claim—that a public guardianship agency would yield a net reduction in public costs, for state government in particular.

This research brief presents findings from an initial stage of that work. It summarizes and draws conclusions from four studies that investigated net savings of public guardianship programs in Florida, New York, Virginia, and Washington state. A literature review did not identify additional cost‐benefit studies of public guardianship programs.

By: Eliot Levine


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