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Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2022
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WINGS Minnesota 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 Board of Directive 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 Spring Webinar:
Tuesday, May 10, 2022 at noon

Details to follow: watch your inbox!
Alicia Munson, Chief Program Officer at The Arc MN will be leading a discussion on honoring disability by reframing language.

Sure to be a thought-provoking, affirming conversation: save time on your calendar to attend this virtual webinar.  

Meet the WINGS Officers & Board of Directors
WINGS meets by-monthly to update Board of Directors on WINGS activities, discuss guardianship, supported decision-making and other decision making-options across the public, private, legal, social services, educational, and personal sectors.  Per WINGS MN Bylaws, elections are held as needed for open positions and annually.  In February, the following were elected or re-elected Allycia Wolff, WINGS Secretary (Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making, VOA MN); Andrea Strobel-Ayres (Office of Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities); Ashley Olthoff (Down Syndrome Association); Megan Sanders (Institute for Community Integration); Katherine O'Connell (Hennepin County Probate Court); Shannon Butler (Ethical Solutions, LLC); Heather Scheuerman (MN Judicial Branch); Mary Hauff (family member, SDM advocate); John Kantke (Hennepin County Adult Representation Services; Barb Kleist (Institute for Community Integration); Jamie Majerus (MN Judicial Branch, WINGS Co-Facilitator); Robert McLeod (Best & Flanagan); Alicia Munson (The Arc MN); Doug Nguyen (Social Security Administration); Joel Olson (Ramsey County Probate Court); Emily Olson (Essentia Health).  Other WINGS members continuing to serve in their terms: Anita Raymond, WINGS Co-Facilitator (Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making, VOA MN); Marit Peterson, WINGS Bylaws (MN Elder Justice Center); Holly Anderson (Department of Education); Ben Ashley Wurtman (DHS Behavioral Health Division); Kathleen Carlson (Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making, VOA MN); Genevieve Gaboriault (Office of Ombudsman for Long-Term Care); Lindsey Horowitz (Department of Education); Dalaine Remes (MN Disability Law Center); Jill Tilbury (DHS Public Guardianship Office); Cari Tupy (family member, SDM advocate); Kim Watson (Guardianship Options, LSS MN); Jennifer Wright (Attorney, family member).  Following the meeting Megan Sanders volunteered to be nominated for WINGS Tech Lead (to be elected at future meeting).  Thanks to WINGS Officers and Directors for their dedication and commitment to furthering WINGS goals for Minnesotans involved in the spectrum of decision-making options.

 WINGS November Educational Event 
A Virtual Success! 

Supported Decision Making: Personal and Professional Perspectives Panel

More than 260 attendees enjoyed an engaging and informative virtual panel discussion on how to do supported decision-making.  A multi-disciplinary panel of experts included attorney and WINGS member John Kantke (Estate & Elder Law Services); Kathleen Carlson, LISW (Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making); Kim Watson (Guardianship Options, Lutheran Social Services MN); and Cari Tupi, a family supporter and advocate.  Panel moderator was Marit Peterson (MN Elder Justice Center); Chat Moderator was Jamie Majerus, MN Judicial Branch and WINGS co-chair; and Zoom Wrangler was Anita Raymond, LISW, CESDM and WINGS MN co-chair.  Watch for future events, and let us know what topics you'd like to see covered or speakers you'd like to hear from. 

Thanks to our panelists, who were also the planning committee!


Since November 5th, Conservator Account Inventories have been being reviewed by the Conservator Account Auditing Program (CAAP).  This is a transition from the Conservator Account Review Program (CARP). The actual account review will not change, only the title of the team and the heading on the report to the court. If you have any questions regarding this change, please call the Conservator Account helpline at  (763) 347-4437.

in late 2021, ACL announced several national awards of significance to the field of guardianship, including the award to "The Judiciary Courts of the State of Minnesota will design and implement a guardian/conservator grievance/investigation process to alert the court of potential maltreatment and fraud. The process will be designed to detect fraud and abuse of individuals subject to guardianship/conservatorship. It will document and track information received by better utilizing, and enhancing where necessary, electronic record systems. Minnesota will contract with Volunteers of America to provide training in supporting decision making to inform judges, guardians, conservators, interested parties, and court visitors on topics that support and protect the interests of individuals under a guardianship/conservatorship."  We'll hear more from MN Judicial Branch this Spring and Summer as they ramp up activities in fulfillment of this grant. Congratulations to the Branch and to Minnesota!
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2022 Events
The 16th Annual Minnesota World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Conference will be held in person at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center, MN on June 15, 2022.   Registration Open Now: don't miss your opportunity to receive the early registration rate.  More information at MN Elder Justice Center.  

The 10th Annual Elder Abuse Awareness Day Summit presented by Cass and Clay County Elder Abuse Coordinated Community Response Coalition  will happen on June 28, 2022 at the Courtyard by Marriot in Moorhead, MN.  The Summit features Paul Greenwood, a nationally known expert.  For more information, contact Nichi Erickson

Training & Education Opportunities

The US Department of Justice is hosting a free, 3-day Elder Justice Decision-Making Symposium: The Role of Decision-Making Capacity in Elder Justice Cases that Reach Civil and Criminal Courts, April 19-21, 2022. "The Symposium will highlight what we know today about the aging brain and its impact on decision-making, and discuss the protocols and tools available to assess decision-making capacity. The Symposium will then focus on the myriad of ways that perceptions of an older adult’s decision-making capacity can have profound implications on their treatment in criminal and civil proceedings. These may include elder abuse or fraud prosecutions not being pursued; unnecessary or inappropriate guardianships being imposed; and civil legal remedies being denied to older victims of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation."  Registration closes March 25. 

More locally, the Minnesota Elder Justice Center provides free weekly webinars on topics related to the full spectrum of decision-making options, maltreatment of vulnerable adults, advocacy work, elder justice issues and more.  They now publish their webinars on their website's video library. And did you know MEJC has no-cost victim advocacy phone consultations?  Call 651-440-9312

Social Security Administration 

 A message from Kilolo Kijakazi, SSA Acting Commissioner:  I’m excited that, starting in early April, we will add more in-person appointments and offer in-person service for people without an appointment. As we prepare to help more people in person at local Social Security offices throughout the country, I’m asking for your help to let the public know what to expect.  During the pandemic, millions of people used our secure and convenient online services and received help by phone and in our offices by appointment. For people who can access our services online or by phone, we ask that they continue to do business with us online or by phone and schedule an appointment, when possible, which will better allow us to timely serve people who cannot use those options.  I invite you to visit our webpage How to Get Help from Social Security to learn: The best ways to get help from Social Security; What you should know before you visit a Social Security office, so we can help you safely; Innovative options that could help you have your hearing sooner if you are appealing a decision.

 Brian Rudolph and Rhonda Whitenack,  SSA's Office of Public Affairs - MN and Northern WI announced in December that internet Social Security Number Replacement Cards (iSSNRC) are finally available for Minnesotans! For more information, visit

Brian and Rhonda also shared news about SSA's Compassionate Allowances program which "quickly identifies claims where the applicant’s condition or disease clearly meets Social Security’s statutory standard for disability.  Due to the severe nature of many of these conditions, these claims are often allowed based on medical confirmation of the diagnosis alone; for example, certain cancers, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and a number of rare disorders that affect children.  To date, more than 700,000 people with severe disabilities have been approved through this accelerated, policy-compliant disability process, which has grown to a total of 254 conditions."

SSA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently announced that 3/10/22 was National Slam the Scam Day, as part of the National Consumer Protection Week  (March 6-12, 2022).  Though the week has passed, there's every reason to keep our guard up in spotting and responding to scams. Be sure to "Visit OIG’s Press Kit for additional resources related to “Slam the Scam” activities. Read and share our Scam Awareness Toolkit and Scam Alert infographic."

Justice in Aging recently announced that SSA has published a couple new Emergency Messages:   EM-20169, Instructions for Reopening and Reevaluating SSI Claims Denied due to COVID-19 Disaster Assistance.  "According to the EM, SSA is now reopening hundreds of thousands of applications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits that they previously denied from March 2020 to the present because those decisions may have been erroneous. While some cases will be automatically reviewed, other cases will need to be brought to the agency’s attention in order to correct errors related to a person’s receipt of disaster assistance."  Emergency Message EM21064 instructs its employees that when a person receiving SSI "files a request for reconsideration more than 15 days after the date on a Notice of Planned Action, but within the 65-day appeal period, the recipient must continue to receive their benefits while their appeal is pending, unless they waive this in writing....
Regional Communications Director and active WINGS member Doug Nguyen announces that the SSA and Department of Veterans Affairs "have joined forces to create a Fact Sheet, Social Security and Veterans Affairs Disability - How Do They Compare? This quick reference explains the differences between each agency’s disability program. Through our partnership with the VA, we hope to help the veteran community navigate each agency’s programs more easily."
Center for Excellence in
Supported Decision Making 

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!



Guardianship Information Line: Ask an Expert    
Question:  My cousin has had a guardian since she was 18 years old. She wants to have it terminated, and I agree with her, but her family and medical team are worried about her safety. What can we do? 

Answer:  This is a great question, and one that often comes up when people have been subject to guardianship since they were a teenager. People grow in their ability to make decisions, and learn from the various ups and downs of life. The support one needs at 18 will no doubt change by the time they are 25, 35, 45 years old. We know that people change, and therefore, it is fair to reassess if guardianship is still needed.  

Start by considering what supports the person needs right now? In assessing what your cousin wants and needs in this moment, the various ways they can get what they need are identified.  Does it have to happen through a guardianship? Or could it happen with supported decision making, and other decision-making options outside of guardianship? Talking with your cousin is a first step, asking them questions, listening to what they want, and helping them to articulate what they need and want help with is important. This will prepare your cousin to talk with the individuals that are hesitant about changing their guardianship. Ultimately, asking questions and seeing where family and professionals’ concerns lie is a vital part of the process.  

There are many ways to support individuals in decision making. Legally, there is guardianship, and alternatives like a Release of Information and Health Care Directive. While the legal aspects are important, the casual aspects of Supported Decision Making are just as vital. Say that one of the concerns the family has is that the person struggles to understand the complex needs of their medical care, and isn't always able to sift out important details. A viable legal alternative to guardianship is the Health Care Directive, and Release of Information forms with providers. Once the guardianship is terminated, your cousin could create a Health Care Directive, appointing an agent of their choice who would have the legal ability to make decisions if the person is wholly unable to participate in decision-making.  They could also complete Release of Information forms, enabling others to converse with the medical, social services, and residential teams, to help your cousin understand the decisions they face. This way the person has someone they trust in place to make decisions if needed, and the supporters can continue to help with medical decisions as they arise. While this legal aspect is important, the more casual supports are just as important. This could be a friend calling with the person to make needed appointment, or taking the time to explain questions they have, or knowing that they have people to turn to, like a family member, friend, case manager, ILS worker, or others. The combination of legal and casual supports as an alternative to guardianship is a well-rounded way to make sure the person’s needs are met--which is most often the biggest concern and reason for hesitation. This is also building a case for the eventual court hearing to prove why a guardianship is no longer needed.  

Once the person is ready, they can contact the court where the guardianship is located and request a court appointed attorney to assist them in a termination of guardianship.  Or they can work with an attorney of their own choosing, or another support person, like you, to file a petition.  The key thing to remember is that people subject to guardianship always have the right to petition the court to request modifications to, or termination of, the guardianship.  Many people believe the process is about a “restoration to capacity” but in reality, that is not necessary.  Even if a person still needs some help, but not the level of support provided by a guardian, the guardianship may be terminated.   

Each situation has unique nuances, so please contact the Guardianship Information Line 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. 


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

The Administration for Community Living COVID Response team recently shared the fact sheet:  Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Address Needs of People with Disabilities and Older Adults in COVID-19 Response and Recovery.  "The Administration recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has had tremendous impact on disabled individuals and has resulted in new members of the disability community...." 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there has been an increase in online shopping fraud reports since the start of the COVID 19 pandemic.  The report, Protecting Older Consumers, 2020-2021, A Report of the Federal Trade Commission also includes information on the FTC's efforts to protect older consumers through law enforcement actions and outreach & education programs.  
SAVE THE DATE:  The Annual MAGiC Conference: October 13, 2022 at Rush Creek Golf Club in Maple Grove.  Membership is open to all Guardians, Conservators, Health Care Professionals, Attorneys or anyone interested in being involved with Guardianship/Conservatorship issues.  Individual and Organization memberships available.  Members receive access to membership listserv, quarterly presentations, quarterly MAGIC Journal, discount to the Annual Conference and more.  For more information on membership, vendor/sponsorship opportunities at the annual conference, contact the MAGIC Administrator at MAGiC is a membership organization to explore substitute decision-making and is a supporter of WINGS MN.
National Scope: WINGS, 
Supported Decision Making & Related Tools, Articles, and Resources  

In late 2021, the ACL announced that it awarded a major grant to Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) to further expand the Self-Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center (SAR-TAC).  According to the announcement, "SAR-TAC will continue and grow as a national, person-centered, culturally competent resource that empowers and supports the national self-advocacy movement for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD). This center will serve as a national resource that:  Further strengthens statewide and local self-advocacy organizations; Creates and disseminates self-advocacy resources; Provides leadership development opportunities for people with ID/DD; and Strengthens the network of civil rights organizations working on behalf of people with ID/DD.  SAR-TAC will be guided by principles of independent living, self-determination, and intersectionality."

The National Center on Law & Elder Rights asks for the public's assistance in Helping Older Adults Prepare for 3G Network Shutdowns as these wireless networks shut down at the end of this year.  


Guardianship: News, Resources, Trainings
ACL recently announced several funding opportunities that may of interest to MN organizations.  Elder Justice Innovation Grants are centered around Improving Guardianship; Improving Results for APS Clients; and Enhancing APS approaches to cases involving opioids and substance use disorders.  There is also funding under ACL's Legal Assistance Enhancement Program grants.  Minnesota has benefited in recent years from ACL Elder Justice grants: a 2016 award established VOA MN's Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making and solidified WINGS MN; DHS Adult Protective Services outcomes have been enhanced by an EJI grant, and MN Judicial Branch is just ramping up with activities funded by their 2021 award.  While the requirements of programming, not to mention the application process can seem daunting, consider the possibility of partnering with other entities across Minnesota.  

The Fourth National Guardianship Summit: Maximizing Autonomy and Ensuring Accountability, held in May, 2021; if you haven't already done so, spend some time reading the Recommendations Adopted by Summit Delegates, a series of improvements to guardianship systems and the promotion of supported decision making (strongly aligning with WINGS MN goals and priorities).  These 22 recommendations align under topic areas: Rights-Based Guardianships - Enhancing Rights of Persons Subject to Guardianship; Supporting Decision-Making; Limited Guardianship, Protective Arrangements and Diverting Pipelines; Rethinking Guardianship Monitoring and Addressing Abuse; Addressing Fiduciary Responsibilities and Tensions;  and Guardianship Improvement Programs.

In September, 2021 the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a subcommittee hearing: Toxic Conservatorships: The Need for Reform   Watch the video to hear compelling testimony from advocates for reform and an individual subject to guardianship and his experiences in trying to navigate his and his family's life within the confines of an overly protective guardianship.   Witnesses' testimony can also be downloaded.  

"Guardianship plays two opposing roles in the world of elder abuse. Often guardians are heroes in preventing, detecting, remedying abuse, and improving the quality of life of at-risk older adults. Yet at other times, as we know from shocking media exposes, guardians are the villains, taking advantage of those they were named to protect. To address both roles, agencies working with older adults must forge pathways of communication and collaboration."  National Center on Elder Abuse announces the factsheet, Guardianship: Remedy vs. Enabler of Elder Abuse.   Additional publications of interest from NCEA discuss the intersection of guardianship and COVID pandemic: "Tragic as it was, the pandemic drove changes in adult guardianship that may spur improvements for courts, stakeholders and for the lives of at-risk individuals. Now is the time to evaluate those changes carefully, add any needed safeguards, and use them to make the process more just, fair, and person-centered." Learn more in these Lessons Learned briefs: Adult Guardianship and the COVID-19 Pandemic and How the COVID-19 Pandemic Changed Adult Guardianship

Are you a professional guardian?  Have you visited the Center for Guardianship Excellence website?  They have some free and low-cost continuing education webinars specifically tailored to guardians.  Here's a video with more information, thanks to WINGS member Shannon Butler for sharing!

Independent Guardians for Indigent Clients:
County Policy Impacts Clients Lives

Shannon Butler, Integrity Solutions, LLC

Do a person’s rights under guardianship depend on where they live?  Unfortunately I believe that the answer may be yes.  Each county throughout the state of Minnesota has its own guardianship budget, resources and means of providing this important service for indigent persons under guardianship. Some counties depend solely on volunteers to act as guardians; other counties have a paid staff person fill this role; some have contracts with only one professional guardianship agency and others have multiple contracts for guardianship agencies.  These differences can make a big difference when it comes to a person’s right to change guardians should the need arise.  In some cases, if the county was not the original petitioner for guardianship, for example the parents filed for guardianship when their child turned 18, and the person under guardianship wishes to have someone else serve this role in the future, the county may or may not be willing to foot the bill to pay for a different guardian to serve. Depending upon the county's resources this may not even be an option.  How does this get resolved?  Sometimes the court may need to get involved to order payment or the person may be asked to find their own guardian (it happens!) How can court systems, counties and guardianship providers work together to make the system more equitable? I don’t have the answers, but I do think that this is a concern that needs to be addressed.  I believe that persons under guardianship should have the right and opportunity to at least have their case heard and have reasonable options available to remedy concerns with their guardians and have an option to change guardians if warranted. 
Do you have an opinion or commentary you'd like to share with the WINGS community?  Send yours to Co-Facilitator (and current Newsletter Editor) Anita Raymond 

Adult Maltreatment News and Resources 

In November, the Consumer Protection Bureau released an updated version of Preventing elder financial abuse: A guide for nursing home and assisted living communities "to help long-term care staff prevent and respond to financial exploitation of the people in their care...[walking] team members through the four steps to fighting financial abuse: Prevent, Recognize, Record, and Report..."  

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) announces the release a new factsheet: APS wouldn't take my report. Why?" published by the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA)  and the National Center on Elder Abuse and Keck School of Medicine of USC.  "This fact sheet provides brief insight into what cases APS can accept and why.  The expanded version of this fact sheet is also available to delve even deeper into the topic." 
NCEA also announced the release of a new fact sheet Mistreatment of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Elders: "This research brief synthesizes the latest available information and research relating to the mistreatment of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) elders. This brief focuses on the intersection of culture and elder mistreatment in AAPI communities. Information is provided on perceptions and prevalence of elder mistreatment, help seeking behavior, and recommendations for research and intervention."
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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