LA+ Heritage: Sensitive care, legal Protection and dealing with poverty issues experienced by people with disabilities.
Lifetime Advocacy Plus, originally known as the Foundation for the Handicapped, has been a leader in providing guardianship and trust services since its incorporation as a federal non- profit agency in 1963. Ithas been an active advocate for the Disability Rights movement in Washington State since its inception.Known as “The Foundation for the Handicapped,” until its name change in 1994 to Lifetime Advocacy plus, the agency has always been active in searching out existing services for its clients. It was unique in including legal rights and a way to provide funds for a person with a disability. Legally, it has a pioneering history committed to define and provide legal means to protect the dignity and quality of life experienced by people with disabilities, i.e. to substitute in guardianship when needed. Most significantly, these efforts included successfully advocating that a guardianship agency, as opposed to an individual, be allowed to serve as guardian.
The Foundation, now known as Lifetime Advocacy Plus, was the first agency ever to be able to serve as a guardian. Further, the emotional tone of this agency, from its earliest days, is exemplified by the simple question made by the Founders of Lifetime Advocacy Plus, i.e. “Who will take care of my family member when I am gone?” Another absolutely unique feature of this agency, however, was the attention it gave to the need for people with disabilities to have the possibility of possessing funds. Poverty was a given in the lives of nearly all people with disabilities until the Foundation provided leadership and persuaded that insurance actuarial tables be changed to allow inclusion of people with disabilities as beneficiaries to life insurance policies.
And what was to be done with any funds left in a life insurance policy, or from any other source, for a person with a disability? Most critically, “The Foundation” was the first to develop the Craven Trust, later called the Dussault Trust and now, nationwide, known as the Special Needs trust. LA+ now also makes available a specialized Master Pooled Asset trust. This effort, and reality, continues to answer JohnHauberg’s question from the early sixties: “What good are all of the vending machines in lobbies of state institutions, or any other items being made available for purchase to people with disabilities, if the person doesn’t even have two coins to rub together?”
From Vision to Reality: LA+ Early History
Lifetime Advocacy Plus [LA+], previously known as the Foundation for the Handicapped is a federal, tax exempt fiduciary, 501 (c) (3). It was founded in 1963, as the very first agency to serve as a guardianship and fiduciary for people with disabilities in the United States. Van Hinkle, attorney, and Garrett Heynes, then superintendent of public institutions, initially requested a group of Washington state parents to undertake personal visits, as friends, to individuals residing in institutions. These individuals numbered in the hundreds and had had no visits from anyone for several years. In the 40’s and 50’s the cultural standard advice from the medical profession and others was to institutionalize babies with severe disabilities or risk destroying the entire family. This initial group of “Visitors” was strongly encouraged by the ARC, then known as the Association for Retarded Children, and took up the challenge of visiting people in the state institutions. Early “Visitors”, including John Hauberg, attorney Van Hinkle and Garrett Heynes wisely felt that a group, separate from residential and other service providers,was needed to serve as friend and protector for vulnerable adults who were then without family members or guardians to visit or to speak for them. John Hauberg, Elise Chadwick, Tom Youell and their friends organized groups of individuals to provide visits, birthday cards and appropriate year-end gifts to people who had been “orphaned and abandoned” in state institutions. It soon became evident to these “Visitors” that visits alone could not enforce the natural legal rights a typical citizen heldnor successfully intervene regarding medical procedures. “Visitors” could “visit” but could effectively do little else. They could provide the legal strength that, at that time, was held only by parents or family members. Who could stand in, effectively, for a family member to advocate for any particular change in care for their loved one? Guardianship alone could provide the legal strength of decision-making, relating to medical care providers, or even just making hospital visits in a time of crisis. The agency soon establishedIvan E. Merrick Ethics Committee, and the Harold A. Rogers Trust and Investment Committee followed shortly thereafter, along with administrative committees. Over the early years, professional staff members were hired, with appropriate duties.
To this day, along with all of the state and LA+ Standards of Practice, Lifetime Advocacy Plus staff members also provide birthday cards and Year-End gifts, honoring the earliest intent of founding members to provide humane, personal and loving relationship. In fact, to this day nearly all volunteers and staff members have had direct personal experience with family members or friends who experience cognitive and other disabilities. LA+ remains a mission driven agency with a Vision for all clients to have as full a life as possible
LA+ Tools and Goals to Meet the Challenge: Middle Phase of LA+ History
The concept of the need for an agency to provide legal protection and related advocacy emerged in the late 50’s and early 60’s, along with akeen awareness of the typically profound day-to-day poverty experienced by people with disabilities in those days and a desire to address that situation. To redress this social injustice, three significant groups of volunteers within the new non -profit “Foundation,” now known as Lifetime Advocacy Plus,quickly emerged: The Ivan E. Merrick Ethics Committee worked to establish this agency to serve as legal guardian to “stand in the shoes of the people served”. This Committee, while working to establish agency guardianship also responded when civil and human rights were seen to be violated. In fact, legal expertise marshaled by “the Foundation” since the 60’s resulted in nearly all of the disability rights case law now on the books in Washington state. A review of early and ongoing case law will show that the involvement of The Foundation, now known as Lifetime Advocacy Plus, frequently with the name of attorney, Bill Dussault. We see the mark of agency, not only in case law, but also in the development of the RCW’s governing Guardianship law, a result of hard work of members of this agency and guardianship attorney Bill Dussualt. At the same time, an active legislative committee offered support for many bills that improved the lives of people with disabilities and, again, the Foundation played a key role.
The Harold A. Rogers Trust and Investment Committee emerged, guided by the goal to assist families to fund trusts that would have people with disabilities as beneficiaries. Members of this group, comprised primarily of financial experts, worked with insurance companies to allow people with disabilities to be beneficiaries of insurance policies. A third segment of this committee worked on the development of the Craven Trust, which then became known as the Dussault Trust and ultimately is now knownas the Special Needs Trust, and is now available throughout the United StatesLA+ fostered development of Washington Association of Professional Guardians.During the 1990’s Lifetime Advocacy provided meeting space, support and leadership for the development of Washington Association of Professional Guardians, Volunteers and staff supported advocacy and legislation that resulted in the establishment of the Washington State Certification Board./
In the early 90’s, the Lifetime Advocacy Plus [LA+] Quality Assurance personal guardianship program established standards that are virtually the same as the more recent standard state practices required by the Washington State Certification Board, such as requiring a minimum of monthly monitoring visits between guardian representative and each individual served and respect for each client’s individual tradition and heritage. Through its affiliation with the United Way, the Foundation, now known as Lifetime Advocacy Plus, collaborated with a wide range of donors, care providers, disability agencies and people with disabilities.
In 1993, Lifetime Advocacy Plus formally instituted the “Quality Assurance Personal Services Program” requiring monthly monitoring visits, complete with checklists used by professional staff members aimed to review aspects of basic care including medical, psychological, dental care. The Checklist also required review and discussion regarding safety, activities, community involvement to the extent possible as well individual personal goals for each individual. The current Mission and Vision was created at that time, as well, though reviewed on a regular basis. At that time, a legislative committee was also established to collaborate with other guardianship agencies and legislators as a new field of service to people with disabilities continued to evolve.
Guardianship agencies are now required to have 2 state certified guardians; LA+ has 8. Professional training is a high priority at LA+.
Federal stature allows that bequests or other gifts to 501 © 3 non-profits are tax deductible.
Lifetime Advocacy Plus [LA+], previously the Foundation for the Handicapped, a 501 (c) (3) tax exempt organization, gratefully accepts bequests and gifts to help in the provision of guardianship or other related services to the most vulnerable of our citizens. Donors can also direct funds to the Garrett Heynes Benevolent Trust that provides gifts directly to individuals who are in dire need of one-time gifts or loans. LA+ takes absolutely no overhead for the management of the Garret Heynes Benevolent Trust; 100% of donations are used entirely for the needs of LA+ clients who are short of funds.
Who is LA+ today?
Lifetime Advocacy Plus is a volunteer led and professionally staffed agency federal tax-exempt non profit [501 [C]  agency serving vulnerable adults in Washington State. Lifetime Advocacy Plus serves as Trustee, legal Guardian, provides specified services for volunteer guardianships via contract. Lifetime Advocacy Plus also serves over 200 guardians in a “Peace of Mind” or “standby” capacity. In addition to the usual Special Needs trusts, Lifetime Advocacy Plus also offers the Master Pooled Asset Trust. The Trust and Investment Committee members serve as consultants as needed and make investment decisions for client funds. The Personal Services Ethics Committee reviews medical code decisions and also consult on other issues so that each decision is treated with the respect it deserves. The entire organization is now staffed by professional guardians and trust managers and relate with Volunteer committees staffed by people with appropriate skills.
What are the LA+ Standards of Guardianship Practice?
LA+ fully honors all of the Standards of Practice put forward by the Washington State Certification Board, most of which were previously part of the LA+ 1993 Quality Assurance Program. Difficult personal guardianship issues are presented to volunteer Personal Services Ethic committees for consultation.Committees are staffed by nurses, social workers and other professionals from the community.
What happens in an emergency need for a Guardianship decision, medical or otherwise?
In the event of an emergency, regarding an LA+ client, care-givers and significant others can access LA+ 24 throughout the night using the same day time telephone number, 206 367 8055. From the beginning, this agency served people who have developmental disabilities, have been accident victims and/or are people of advanced age who can no longer manage their own affairs. LA+ offers expertise and a warm concern like that of a relative, the unique gift of a meaningful friendship together with assurance of continuity, professionalism and expertise. Service is provided by a highly competent and caring staff, with staff level and volunteer level supervision as part of its quality assurance program. LA+ staff and volunteers maintain its traditional heritage of creativity and excellence.
Services of Lifetime Advocacy Plus include:
- Counsel including information regarding trusts and guardianships, as well asreferral to appropriate professional resources made available to parents, relatives or friends concerning lifetime planning for their adult family member or friend who is disabled.
- Standby, successor, for any degree of guardianship as determined by the Court.
- Trustee, utilizing resources left for the beneficiary in the best possible manner without jeopardizing state benefits or care.
- Advocacy and expertise, including and supporting family members and friends when possible.
- Negotiating and responding to government or other agencies as required.
- Providing a stabilizing influence for any client of Lifetime Advocacy Plus.
In 1993, Lifetime Advocacy Plus formally instituted the “Quality Assurance Program” requiring monthly monitoring visits, complete with a Checklist aimed to review all aspects of basic care including medical, psychological, dental treatment, and review of residence safety, and general life situation. The Checklist also required review and discussion regarding safety, daily activities, community involvement to the extent possible, as well as review of individual personal goals for each individual. The current Mission and Vision was created at that time, as well. A legislative committee was also established to collaborate with other guardianship agencies and legislators to best serve people with disabilities and a new guardianship community continued to evolve.