November 2009


County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi announced today that the Department of Social Services in collaboration with Nassau County Supreme Court, New York State Office of Children and Family Services, the Nassau County Bar Association Elder Law Committee and Department of Senior Citizen Affairs initiated a new program for incapacitated adults who require court appointed guardians.  “By creating a community guardianship program, Nassau County is better able to assist adults who otherwise could not manage on their own by keeping them comfortable and safe with as much independence as possible,” said County Executive Suozzi.

Nassau County Supreme Court appoints a guardian when it is determined that an adult is unable to provide for their personal needs and/or property management.   The guardian’s responsibilities can include arranging personal necessities such as food, clothing, shelter and health care.  It can also include managing the property and financial affairs of the incapacitated person.

“On Long Island, the number of men and women over the age of 65 has risen 13 per cent between 1990 and 2000,” stated Social Services Commissioner John E. Imhof.   “We expect this increase to continue and want to provide assistance to incapacitated adults who might not have anyone looking out for their best interests.”

The Department of Social Services (DSS) entered into contractual agreements with Selfhelp Community Services and Jewish Association for Services for the Aged (JASA) to provide community guardianship services.  Both agencies have years of experience advocating for incapacitated adults in addition to working collaboratively with local social service districts.

If a person needing a guardian lacks sufficient assets to pay guardianship fees and has no other responsible person available to serve in that role, a referral is made to DSS.  DSS conducts an investigation and determines whether a services case can be opened.  Based on the department’s assessment, the court makes a finding as to whether a vendor can act as the guardian for the incapacitated individual.

"These new Community Guardianship contracts will provide the highest quality comprehensive case management and financial services as well as social activities and support opportunities for very vulnerable people," noted Senior Citizen Affairs Commissioner Sharon Mullon.  Mary P. Giordano, Esq., co- chair of the Nassau County Bar Association’s Elder Law committee added, “the Elder Law bar is very excited and pleased  to participate in this collaborative effort  of all the different agencies to open this guardianship program.  This program should be helpful to protect seniors in our community who have no one else to assist them.”

For further information regarding the Community Guardianship program, please contact Rita Nolan at 516-227-8049.