Guardianship for Young Adults with Disabilities as a Violation of the Purpose of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act
Journal of International Aging Law & Policy, Vol. 8, 2015
73 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2015
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) was originally enacted in 1975 as the Education for All Handicapped Children’s Act. The purpose of the IDEIA is to “provide a free appropriate public education” to children with disabilities and to prepare them for further education, employment, and full participation in society. Under the IDEIA, all students are required to have a transition plan to facilitate their movement from high school to life after school. Although the transition planning process does not require parents to become guardians for their children with disabilities, many parents throughout the United States believe that becoming their adult child’s guardian is the next step in the transition process as their child reaches the age of majority. As a legal procedure, guardianship cedes decision-making authority from the young adult child to the parent just at the time in the young person’s life when he or she should be supported to exercise decision-making authority so as to live the most independent life possible. Further, schools, parents, and courts often fail to consider less restrictive alternatives to guardianship, such as supported decision-making, for those young adults who may need help in decision-making. Supported decision making has gained international attention recently due to the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which calls for support for people with disabilities rather than substituted decision-making, which is included in most guardianship laws. This article presents the view that guardianship as part of the transition planning process for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities undermines the language and purpose of the IDEIA.
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