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©Copyright 2014, Guardian Community Trust, Inc. One Elm Square, Andover MA, 01810 peter@guardiancommunitytrust.org | 978-775-3500
Welcome

THE GUARDIAN COMMUNITY TRUST MISSION

Statement of Mission

Guardian Community Trust, Inc., was created to improve the lives of seniors and individuals with disabilities, including many who reside in nursing homes, and many whose need for a guardian or conservator is not being met under the current protective laws of Massachusetts.

The heart of our mission is a pooled-trust program that helps disabled and institutionalized individuals to preserve their independence, comfort and dignity while receiving government benefits. We do this by enabling our beneficiaries to set aside some of their own assets in a professionally-managed, Medicaid-exempt trust account for supplemental needs.

Underlying the pooled trust mission is our commitment to improve permanently the lives of the indigent and incapacitated in Massachusetts who need a public agency to be their guardian or conservator. We do this through our own research, education and advocacy, and through an active grant-making program that enlists the creative energies of others in Massachusetts who share the vision of such an agency.

Vision Statement

A Pooled Trust Program. At its simplest level, the vision of Guardian Community Trust, Inc., is to serve the protective needs of seniors and disabled persons through a partnership with the public sector. The Medicaid-exempt pooled trust program currently is the most visible expression of this vision. For more than ten years, the pooled trust program managed by Guardian Community Trust has enabled elderly, disabled and incapacitated individuals in Massachusetts to live more connected and fulfilling lives, by holding excess savings in trust for supplemental needs without disqualifying them from Medicaid, SSI and other public benefits.

The larger aim, however, is to show that a new kind of public-private partnership may offer a high-quality, lasting solution to a social need that governments usually handle through tax expenditures alone. The pooled trust program itself is a step toward this new kind of partnership, based upon recognition by the Medicaid program that a special needs trust reduces the burdens of government by addressing personal needs that are not directly medical in nature, but related closely to the individual's well-being.

A Public Guardianship Agency. The mission to bring about a public guardianship agency rethinks the idea of public-private partnership, viewing it as a way to reduce dependence upon tax dollars for the delivery of essential social services. The guardianship needs of the indigent in Massachusetts are an appropriate focus for this new model, because meeting these needs adequately requires both public sector and private sector participation.

The Guardian Community Trust model begins with the proposition that declining public support for government activity in general puts all publicly-funded social services at risk, raising concerns about long-term declines in scope and quality, perhaps even eventual abandonment. These concerns apply especially to services needed primarily by economically and politically vulnerable groups.

Guardian Community Trust proposes that society respond to this changing landscape by pulling together private resources for permanent funding of the most vulnerable social services. A public guardianship agency in Massachusetts demonstrably exemplifies a highly vulnerable category of social services. There is reason to believe that this issue is exactly the place to try a new model of public-private partnership, to see whether a better path for meeting social service needs of its kind might be found.

The new model seeks to join the legal power of government to institute a social service agency with charitable contributions from the private sector to pay for it. Our belief is that the resulting institution would provide superior quality, transparency, durability and accountability of services than either a fully-public or a fully-private agency could provide. There are three guiding principles that inform this model for a public guardianship agency.

First, the state, and not a private entity, should serve as the fiduciary and community resource for the indigent who need a guardian or conservator. Protective services are inherently a public concern. The indigent who need such help are unusually vulnerable, and their need – both individually and as a population – persists over time. The goal for those who care about this need therefore should be a long-term solution that the private sector by itself may not be able to deliver consistently.1

Second, a state agency can be counted on to remember and to reassert its mandate over time, through institutional structure, recurring budget requests and other formal means. But the Legislature cannot always be counted on to fund agency mandates, particularly those that concern only services for the physically or mentally incapacitated. Unfortunately for these groups, they generally do not vote or contribute to political causes that get noticed by legislators. Where the risks of disappearing public funding are substantial, as they are for an public guardianship agency, GCT believes that one answer is to fund the agency through a private endowment, to reduce dependence upon tax dollars.

Finally, GCT believes that having a private, non-governmental organization with authority over funding will help to ensure that the services provided by the public guardianship agency remain responsive to the population that it is supposed to serve. GCT, and particularly its Endowment program, will be structured to be representative of the groups served by the agency, transparent to the state government, and accountable to the public at large.

1 There have been several attempts by volunteer organizations in Massachusetts, since about 1980, to provide protective fiduciary services to the indigent through donations and token fees charged to recipients. There probably are many reasons that these efforts have not succeeded, but among the most obvious is simply the nature of the task. Volunteer groups may begin strong, but organizations weaken or disappear as passions cool, vision fades and the people or the relationships change. For this and other reasons, Guardian Community Trust believes that a public mandate, and a durable administrative structure, are essential to address the protective fiduciary needs of the indigent.