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The Ellis County Court is in need of volunteer guardians in Court No. 1

Kenya Menjivar
Waxahachie Daily Light

The Ellis County Court No. 1 is in desperate need of willing volunteers to help with their elderly and disabled guardianship program.

The need for guardians has gone up since the pandemic hit, as some volunteers have been unable or unwilling to carry on with the duties.

The guardianship program flyer.

“There is definitely a need. Most guardianships are started by a family member or a relative or friend, someone that is close to that person that is willing or able to assume that responsibility,” shared Judge Jim Chapman from Ellis County Court 1.  “On occasion, and unfortunately more frequently than we would like, we do get requests from, say, a nursing home or a concerned citizen, saying that they believe there is someone out there that is in need of a guardian to help assist (to) take care of them but that there is no one that is willing and able to serve in that capacity.”

“Under Texas Law, whenever someone thinks that someone else needs a guardian in the county, a neighbor or sometimes it may be a social worker in a nursing home, there’s usually a concern," shared Stephen Crane, Attorney and owner of Crane Law Firm.

The process to become a guardian is lengthy, but all that is required is a background check. Volunteers must be Texas residents.

“Attorneys as investigators ... our job is to go out and determine whether this person needs a guardian or not. If we think they do need a guardian, then they’re authorized to move forward and to actually get a guardianship in place,” said Crane. “It’s always an issue to find volunteer guardianship, especially (since) we want people in the community that are able to kind of almost take on almost like an adoptive parent or grandparent, someone that you’re the one that gets that call if they fall, you’re the one that gets the call if they go to the hospital ... it’s mainly medical related, but sometimes the guardian has the authority over where they’re going to live.”

Volunteers are expected to check in with their person once a month and make sure they are doing well. Additionally, once a year an annual report must be turned in, answering questions and doing a full analysis of the person. 

Crane has had prior experience as a guardian. 

“I was a guardian ... I was his guardian for like 2 ½- 3 years until he passed away. He had a family, but they were kind if estranged,” shared Crane. “I was kind of the person between. A lot of it was listening and ‘What do you recommend?’ But I had to make the calls about DNRS ... and when he was dying, I was there during some of that. He would have had no one, really.”

With the ongoing pandemic, volunteers have been scarce, but the need for guardianship has not disappeared. 

“In the past we’ve always had success on being able to find volunteers to serve as the guardian of the person, (but) particularly in the COVID era, it is difficult to find anyone. We wanna make sure we have enough volunteers so that when and if the need arises that there is someone there that is able to fill it and perform that task,” said Chapman. “I would say that there’s always a need, but like I say right now (with) the COVID that probably some of the people that may volunteer for health reasons or such may not be able to do that right now. There’s always a challenge.”

For more information or to sign up as a volunteer for the program, call Crane at (972) 723-1033 or Rwan Hardesty at (469) 336-5227.