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Vol. 5, No. 2, September
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WINGS Minnesota (Working Interdisciplinary Network of Guardianship Stakeholders) is a collaborative dedicated to supporting elders, persons with disabilities, family members and helpers, service providers, guardians and conservators through education; building a system that prioritizes supportive decision making and less restrictive alternatives to guardianship, and that maximizes autonomy for persons under guardianship; and sustaining a cooperative conversation where all guardianship stakeholders work to improve outcomes and increase self-determination for people who may need assistance making legal or medical choices.
Become a WINGS Member

While WINGS members are comprised of an active group of stakeholders, we need our Minnesota-based community to contribute your ideas and talents to keep the Network strong and vibrant.  
  • We are recruiting members to help broaden the network to ensure we are representative of Minnesota; we are specifically recruiting members from Tribes and individuals / families with lived with guardianship and/or supported decision making experience.  
  • we publish articles in this newsletter of events, collaborations, and developing best practices happening throughout Minnesota: we need your contributions to help us build strong networks throughout Minnesota.  
Please reach out to our Facilitators with your ideas and ability to volunteer, ( or
WINGS MN News & Announcements


Don’t miss WINGS Fall Webinar:
Supported Decision Making (tentative title)
(how to do it)
Wednesday, November 17, 2021, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. 

 WINGS 7th Annual (mini) Summit
A Virtual Success! 

The 2021 WINGS Summit welcomed 217 attendees for a lively two-hour panel discussion on visitation decisions in guardianship. We heard about the Harris v. Gellerman and Guardianship of Kowalski appellate court rulings, discussed the statutory Bill of Rights and guardianship powers, and using all of these to explore case studies with interesting and complicating visitation conflicts. 
A panel of experts included attorney and WINGS member Robert McLeod (Best & Flanagan); The Honorable Shawn Moynihan (First Judicial District); guardian Diane Osland, NCG (Lutheran Social Services MN); and attorney Mary Szondy).  Panel moderator was Jennifer Wright, JD; Chat Moderator was Kathleen Carlson, LSW, from the Center for Excellence in Supported Decision-Making (CESDM); and Zoom Wrangler was Anita Raymond, LISW, CESDM and WINGS MN co-chair.

Thanks to our panelists, the planners & helpers and  to all attendees!  


COVID-19 / Coronavirus
Resources & Announcements

MN Department of Health has a wealth of information regarding the Vaccine and learn to be a vaccine advocate at communicating to communities

New COVID-19 Funding for Minnesota's
Adult Protective Services 

What is this new funding opportunity?
     Minnesota received one-time supplemental funding of about $1.5 million from the federal Administration for Community Living (ACL). The funding is to enhance, improve, and expand the ability of the Adult Protective Services (APS) system to accept reports and investigate people alleged responsible for abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult and to respond to the service needs of vulnerable adults experiencing such maltreatment. Funds must be expended on APS activities related to the Coronavirus Emergency. The funding must supplement, and supplant, existing state, federal, and local APS funding.
     The funds were distributed to the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) in April 2021. The funds must be spent or obligated by September 30, 2022.
How will DHS be using the funds?
     After reviewing data and gathering input from counties and the Office of Indian Policy, DHS submitted a proposed spending plan that meets grant requirements. ACL approved DHS’ plan on April 2, 2021. The plan includes funding the following activities:
  1. Direct allocations to Tribal Nations
  2. Competitive subgrants to counties or service organizations who will partner with counties in adult protective services for activities such as:
    • Direct services to stop maltreatment and prevent reoccurrence, such as engaging advocacy, counselling, and community and social supports for the vulnerable adult;
    • emergency housing
    • responding to scams to stop exploitation; or
    • transportation for vaccination and other supports for vulnerable adults during COVID.
  3. Implicit bias and ant-racism training for APS workers statewide
  4. A campaign to increase public awareness among communities that have been historically underserved and underrepresented in APS on:
    • supports and services available to prevent maltreatment,
    • services provided through APS,
    • identifying potential maltreatment, and
    • reporting maltreatment to MAARC (MN Adult Abuse Reporting Center)

National Center on Elder Abuse recently published two relevant publications: Adult Guardianship and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned issue brief and How the COVID-19 Pandemic Changed Adult Guardianship: Lessons Learned factsheet.

The National Center on Law & Elder Rights has helpful COVID-19 Resources, including a What You Need to Know series on COVID stimulus checks for nursing home residents, home and community based services and Representative Payees

Social Security Administration 

The Social Security Board of Trustees has released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security trust funds. Please see our press release at for details.

From SSA Public Affairs Specialist Brian Rudolph: Social Security Liaisons Assist Partner Organizations to Help Vulnerable Populations:  
     We have been working with claimant advocate groups to identify new ways in which we can improve access to our services for the most vulnerable populations.  We have exciting news that we have designated a new position to work with organizations in local communities to help often-underserved individuals.
     A Vulnerable Population Liaison, or VPL, will work directly with an organization that commits to helping take claims or to providing us information sufficient to protect a claimant for benefits at the earliest date possible.  Providing that information is what we call establishing a lead.
     This is a tremendous opportunity for a partner organization to have direct access to a Social Security employee to help their clients.  Already more than 560 organizations have committed to helping take and submit claims, and more than 600 organizations have agreed to help establish a lead.
     Agreeing to help us take claims is an important pledge and we are committed to providing tools and knowledge to help you.  We created several videos and presentations that we will present in virtual training, answer your questions, and share resources with you after your training.  These resources include our new electronic, fillable Supplemental Security Income applications (SSA-8000 and SSA-8001 forms).
     Together, we can do more to help our nation’s most vulnerable populations.  Please reach out to the Social Security Regional Communications Director for your state to learn more and sign up to be a partner organization.  We look forward to partnering with you.
Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making 

Help has arrived for understanding
Guardianship and Supported Decision Making!

These complex subjects can be challenging to grasp or explain to others. CESDM and Estate and Elder Law Services are here to help: with funding from MN Board on Aging, we’ve created a series of three white-board animation videos, a fun way to explain hard concepts: all in less than 8 minutes total.  Please share with your networks; the videos are free, easy to access, and intended for wide use


Guardianship Information Virtual Drop-in Clinic

Volunteers of America MN's Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making offers a statewide Guardianship Information Line, a no-cost resource for families, individuals, and professionals for in-depth phone-based consultation from experienced, empathetic, knowledgeable social workers.  And now, in partnership with Estate & Elder Law Services, we offer  Guardianship Information virtual drop-in clinics on the First Wednesday of every month from 12 - 2 p.m.
Complete this form to help us plan & receive a invitation link to join


Families with questions related to a person's decision-making ability, use of supported decision making, need for guardianship, availability of alternatives, or related concerns are encouraged to drop in during clinic hours to meet with our social workers or attorney for educational information and to get their questions answered in real time: no appointments, no voice mail, no phone tag, just direct access to our social work and legal team members!



Supported Decision Making Mentoring and Technical Assistance Now Available for Attorneys, APS Multidisciplinary Teams, and Other Professionals!

Attorney John Kantke of Estate and Elder Law Services is excited to announce that he is available for free mentoring to attorneys on supported decision making and guardianship matters.  If you are an attorney that has questions about how to integrate supported decision making into your practice, how to craft a limited guardianship, or need advice regarding an existing client matter, please contact John at Estate & Elder Law Services. 

This mentoring is also available to non-attorney professionals who are supporting individuals and families in supported decision making and other realms Several APS MDTs throughout Minnesota have taken advantage of this opportunity, inviting Anita Raymond of CESDM to a team meeting to discuss application of SDM principles to the teams.  Contact Anita for more information.  

This mentorship is made available with financial support from the Minnesota Board on Aging. 

Guardianship Information Line: Ask an Expert
QuestionCan you talk about the interpretation that guardianship is a less restrictive option to commitment?

AnswerMinnesota's Commitment statute mentions Guardianship as less restrictive alternative (LRA) to Commitment; therefore, many professionals view that as the legal standing that Guardianship is less restrictive than Commitment.  However, many practitioners view it as the reverse, that Guardianship is actually more restrictive than Commitment, from several practical perspectives:  1) Commitment requires formal pre-petition screening, Guardianship does not; 2) Commitment authority is very specific to provision of MH treatment, usually on an involuntary basis, while Guardianship has very broad powers across most areas personal decision making; 3) Commitment automatically expires after 6 months (or after recommitment terms as determined by court review and order), while Guardianship requires a fairly onerous court process to terminate or otherwise modify the Guardianship, and the burden of proving the Guardianship should be terminated or modified is on the person subject to guardianship (with exception of new statute provisions wherein Guardianships of people under 30 automatically expire 72 months).  
For these reasons, Commitment is considered by many to be a less restrictive alternative to Guardianship.

Each situation has unique nuances, so please reach out to CESDM, VOA MN at 952-945-4174 or for further consultation.

Remember - the statewide Guardianship Information Line is available for families, individuals and professionals for in-depth consultation about your specific situation. CESDM also seeks to provide outreach and education: let us know if you'd like to discuss hosting a training or educational presentation in your area.



MAGiC 32nd Annual State Conference

Register Now!

Hybrid model with both in-person and virtual options available  
Sessions Include:
  • A View from the Bench: Judicial Referees discuss Guardianship and Conservatorship.  In this interactive session, the judicial referees from Hennepin County and Ramsey County will discuss best practices for guardians and conservators.  Presenters include, Referee Lori Skibbie, Hennepin County, Referee Danielle Mercurio, Hennepin County, Referee Joel Olson, Ramsey County.
  • Family Conflict in Guardianship and Conservatorship Cases: The Fiduciary's Role in Dispute Resolution.
  • Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic".  Three professional guardians will discuss their experiences of COVID-19 and share lessons learned.
  • Lots of New Stuff: SNTs, Pooled Trusts and ABLE, Oh My!   Several developments with Special Needs Trust accounting review, how we can use Pooled Special Needs Trusts and the interplay between Guardians and ABLE accounts are brewing for people with disabilities and the elderly.  We’ll get up to date with the planning, establishment, and administration of these important planning tools.
  • Ethical Strategies to Manage Challenging Behaviors.
And more... Register Here
National Scope: WINGS, 
Supported Decision Making & Related Tools, Articles, and Resources  

Supported Decision Making Resources:
New Publication

We love sharing resources from other states: the Florida Disabilities Council recently published a series of publications entitled Developing Abilities and Restoring Rights.  There is a  workbook is for adults with disabilities, a guide for people who are helping people use the workbook, and a manual targeting legal professionals.  Check it out!

Webinar: Innovations in Guardianship: Maximizing Autonomy and Ensuring Accountability

"Guardianship is one approach to providing support and assistance to adults who need help with decision-making about finances and personal issues.  However, as recent high-profile and less visible cases illustrate, guardianship can also infringe on personal rights and can lead to mistreatment of older adults and adults with disabilities.
Join us for a webinar to discuss current trends and challenges in state guardianship systems, policies and practice. Using real-life guardianship scenarios, the webinar will explore ways to maximize autonomy and ensure accountability throughout the guardianship process. Presenters will discuss less restrictive alternatives to guardianship as well as ways to improve adjudication and post-appointment oversight of guardians."  Presented by Department of Justice Elder Justice Initiative  9/30/21, 1-2 pm  Register HERE 

Justice in Aging news

Momentum is growing to make real change and to begin to build a Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) system that works for older adults, people with disabilities, and their families. The Better Care Better Jobs Act would provide permanent funding to strengthen our care infrastructure, expand HCBS to more people, and provide good jobs for direct care workers.

Earlier this month the Senate included HCBS investments in the $3.5 trillion budget resolution. This week, the House is voting on the resolution. While this is a great start, we still have a lot of work to do to ensure the Better Care Better Jobs Act and the full $400 billion in funding are included in the final legislative package. We need your help getting the Better Care Better Jobs Act passed through Congress signed into law.

Learn how the Better Care Better Jobs Act will help older adults, people with disabilities, direct care workers and family caregivers in your state. 
•    Senator Casey, lead sponsor of the Better Care Better Jobs Act, has developed a fact sheet for every state highlighting the need for bold investment in HCBS and how this legislation will help. Find your state’s fact sheet here.
•    Justice in Aging’s fact sheet explains what these investments mean for older adults with disabilities. Get the fact sheet: Why Older Adults Need Bold Investment in Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services.

Take Action!
1.    Call your Members of Congress.
•    Dial 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected with your member of Congress.
•    Tell them to include The Better Care Better Jobs Act and the full $400 billion investment in Medicaid Home- and Community- Based Services in the budget reconciliation package.
2.    Use The Arc’s tool to Share Your Story: Why Home and Community-Based Care Matters.
3.    Use Justice in Aging’s social media toolkit to join the #CareCantWait conversation online. 

How Minnesota Benefits fact sheet 

Guardianship in the News
It's been an interesting year for Guardianship and Conservatorship.  Many people cringed as the Netfix movie I Care a Lot was promoted and finally released earlier this Spring: part guardianship horror story, part dark-comedy, part thriller, part face, but wholly entertaining for those who could watch, it certainly opened up many conversations about just how badly things can go when money rather than helping and protecting, is the motivator.    

Perhaps overshadowing that horror story, Hulu released the New York Times Documentary Framing Britney Spears just in time to provide national audiences the framework for watching her contentious conservatorship legal processes covered by virtually all media markets.  For a more nuanced discussion of the case and it's applicability to guardianship/conservatorship, check out the recent American Bar Association Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice panel discussion, #FreeBriney: Transforming and Reforming Conservatorship and Guardianship.

Last month, MPR News with Angela Davis (guest hosted by Chris Ferrell) invited Marit Peterson, Program Director at MN Elder Justice Center, to participate in their discussion The #FreeBritney Effect: Conservatorships Under Scrutiny as on expert on the topic. Be sure to listen to this engaging conversation. 
Please take a moment to let us know what you think? Do you find this newsletter valuable?  Even just a brief email message would help us know if this is a helpful resource to you! 
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