SIDNEY — Shelby County Probate Judge Jeff Beigel has announced the Court’s new Court Angel Program. The court is now seeking committed volunteers for the program.
“By law the probate court is responsible for overseeing cases where the most vulnerable among us, persons who, due to serious physical or mental disabilities, need help in making decisions about their daily lives,” said Beigel.
Court Angels are volunteers that serve as the court’s eyes and ears by visiting periodically with guardians and their wards. Court Angels then report to the court on the well-being of the wards.
“Preventing abuse and neglect is a top priority. The national statistics are troubling and should not be ignored. This program allows the court to take a more hands-on approach in early identification of abuse or neglect problems,” said Beigel.
“Generally our guardians do a commendable job meeting the needs of their wards. Under Ohio law guardians must submit annual reports to the court on the ward’s welfare, maintain annual education requirements and meet the ward’s daily needs. This program is also intended to provide a contact person for guardians if problems or questions arise,” he said
“The Court Angel program is just part of the long-term improvements we are making to our guardianship system. The court is also addressing the chronic need for guardians for indigent individuals by establishing a Guardianship Services Board to serve as the guardian in these cases. Recently enacted H.B. 595 now allows a court to create the services board to more reliably provide guardians for indigent individuals who have no one willing or able to act on their behalf. It will include the active participation of Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Shelby County Adult Protective Services and the Tri-County Board of Mental Health. We will be updating the community on that part of our program in the future,” Beigel said
“Overall, we are doing well meeting the current needs of our wards and are being proactive in our planning. As our community grows we want to make sure we’ve established the best practice to both ensure that those in need of guardianship are being well served and that guardians are available for their care,” he said.
Court Angels receive initial training and ongoing support from the Court. The Probate Court is currently soliciting committed volunteers who want to make a difference. Anyone interested in becoming a Court Angel should call 937-498-7264 for application details.