[r65] Rep. Koch Boosts Volunteerism, Protects Seniors (1/22/2010)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Start Date: 1/22/2010 All Day
End Date: 1/22/2010

Rep. Koch Boosts Volunteerism, Protects Seniors

Legislation Would Improve and Expand VAS/VAIA Programs

STATEHOUSE-The development and operation of Volunteer Advocates for Seniors and Volunteer Advocates for Incapacitated Adults Programs across the state would be improved and expanded by legislation co-authored by State Representative Eric Koch (R-Bedford).  The General Assembly enacted the legislation to create the VAS/VAIA Programs in 2004 and 2006, and appropriated the start-up funding for them in the 2007 and 2009 state budgets.  Rep. Koch co-authored the enabling legislation for Volunteer Advocates for Seniors in 2004 (House Bill 1178) and in 2006 was the House Sponsor of the enabling legislation for Volunteer Advocates for Incapacitated Adults (Senate Bill 33).

"These programs, using trained volunteers, provide a court-appointed advocate for those seniors or incapacitated adults who have no one in their lives to help them," said Rep. Koch. "Our legislation will build upon the experiences of the pilot programs as more courts throughout the state utilize these services."

At the present time, eight pilot programs across the state are being developed to provide no-cost/low-cost adult guardianship services in Allen, Elkhart, Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Lawrence, Newton, Porter, Pulaski, St. Joseph, Starke, Tippecanoe, and Vanderburgh counties.  House Bill 1169 amends the program statutes based upon what has been learned from the pilot programs by:

  • Requiring that the providers be Indiana nonprofit corporations, programs of Indiana nonprofit corporations, or that they be operated by Indiana county governments or courts;
  • Clarifying that it is the Programs that are appointed to the Guardian and not the individual volunteer advocate;
  • Further defining the required reporting the Programs must send to the Probate Courts and extending the time of the initial appointment of the Programs from 60 days to 90 days so that they have adequate time to perform their investigations and planning;
  • Clarifying that the VAS/VAIA Programs may be appointed by the Court as the guardian of the person or of both the person and the property;
  • Further defining the guardianship duties and powers of the VAS/VAIA Programs as they relate to the person and property and bringing them in line with the existing adult guardianship statutes;
  • Aligning the VAS/VAIA statutes with CASA/Volunteer Guardian Program statutes to allow courts to order reasonable compensation or reimbursement of expenses for services provided by the programs, to establish joint or multiple county programs, and to contract for programs with Indiana nonprofit corporations.

Rep. Koch serves House District 65, which includes parts of Bartholomew, Brown, Jackson, and Lawrence counties, and is Assistant Republican Caucus Chairman.   He serves on the House Judiciary Committee and is the Ranking Member of the House Courts & Criminal Code Committee.

[For additional comments concerning one of the existing pilot programs:  The Honorable Andrea McCord, Judge of the Lawrence Circuit Court, 812-275-2421; Chris Meadows, Director of the Lawrence County Guardianship Services Program, 812-275-4130.]