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Guardianship removes an adult’s rights to manage his or her life decisions and places those decision-making responsibilities with a court appointed guardian. Approximately one-third of individuals under guardianship have a public guardian with the remaining two-thirds having private guardians, many of whom are family members. Out of more than 5,000 adults in the state who are served by a public guardian, nearly 3,000 (56%) are younger adults age 18-59 years old, the majority of whom (86%) have a primary diagnosis of intellectual and other developmental disabilities (I/DD) or mental illness.

Current guardianship policies and practices are not always sensitive to the needs of youth transitioning into adulthood and adults with a range of disabilities across the lifespan. The NC Rethinking Guardianship initiative aims to inform and reform guardianship policies and procedures and also promotes less restrictive alternatives for many of the adults who are currently under guardianship or at risk of guardianship. This workshop will explore the different types of guardianship and less restrictive options that support self-determination particularly as it relates to adolescents with disabilities transitioning into adulthood.

Linda Kendall-Fields has a Master of Education (M.Ed.) from the University of Minnesota, College of Education – Adult Education with Concentration in Gerontology and a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Luther College, Decorah, Iowa – Majors in Psychology and Music. She is also the current facilitator of the NC Rethinking Guardianship Initiative. Linda has been dedicated to building communities that are responsive to the needs and contributions of older adults, people with disabilities, and family caregivers for over 30 years. During her career, she has worked for health care organizations, state and local governmental agencies, and non-profit organizations in Minnesota, Oregon, Ohio, Georgia and North Carolina


Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this workshop, participants will be able to:
1. Explain North Carolina’s Rethinking Guardianship Initiative.
2. Describe at least 3 types of adult guardianship options.
3. Discuss values and principles of self-determination, self-advocacy, and how these relate to a range of decision-making options.
4. Identify 4 essential elements of supported decision-making agreements, in lieu of guardianship.
5. Locate 3 state and national resources to assist individuals and families in assessing the best form(s) of decision-making for each situation.


  • Brady, A. M. (2017). Siblings of adults with intellectual disabilities: Their perspectives on guardianship and its alternatives (Order No. 10624827). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1970385282). Retrieved from
  • Sarkar T. (2016) Guardianship and Alternatives: Decision-Making Options. In: Rubin I.L., Merrick J., Greydanus D.E., Patel D.R. (eds) Health Care for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities across the Lifespan. Springer, Cham.
  • Administration on Community Living. (2014). Supported Decision Making, HHS-2014-HCL-AAIDD-DM-0084. Accessed online on July 13, 2016 at




Fact Sheet

UNC Chapel Hill – Family Focus and Disability Lecture Series Programs 

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