SANTA FE – A newly formed stakeholder partnership that provides ongoing evaluation of the adult guardianship system in New Mexico will hold its first meeting on September 9th.
The Supreme Court earlier this week issued an order to appoint members of the Working Interdisciplinary Network of Guardianship Stakeholders (WINGS), which includes protected individuals under guardianship, a family member, a professional guardian and curator, and representatives from the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the Government.
Similar WINGS programs exist in more than two dozen states. The WINGS in New Mexico were formed by a new law (House Bill 234) passed earlier this year. The law determined a wide range of interest groups to be part of the group and instructed the chairman of the Supreme Court to appoint members to represent them.
“Continuous improvements to the guardianship system for vulnerable New Mexicans require sustained collaboration between state courts and stakeholders in our communities. Our newly formed WINGS will partner with us to advance guardianship reform, ”said Judge C. Shannon Bacon, who is one of four WINGS members who represent the judiciary.
Guardians appointed by the court make decisions about the personal and health care of people who are incapable of acting. Restorers are appointed by a court to administer the financial and possibly property affairs of an incapacitated person, including those suffering from dementia, traumatic brain injury, developmental disorder, or mental illness.
According to the new state law, the tasks of the WINGS are:
“A. Identify strengths and weaknesses in the New Mexico adult guardianship and care system;
“B. Determination of the least restrictive decision-making options for people presumably incapable of acting and protected persons under guardianship and supervision;
“C. review national standards for guardianship and conservatory practices and recommend standards for implementation in New Mexico;
“D. proposed methods of training guardians and conservators in good practice or adopted standards;
“E. recommend public relations work, training and further education if necessary; and
“F. serve as an ongoing problem-solving mechanism to improve the quality of care and life for adults who are or will be in the guardianship or care system.”
Second District Court judge Nancy Franchini will chair WINGS, which by law must meet at least four times a year.
The first meeting will take place virtually on the Zoom platform on September 9, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The second meeting is scheduled for November 30th from 1pm to 4pm to attend remotely, and will be published on the judiciary’s website at a later date.
“The WINGS will build on the work the Guardianship Steering Committee began three years ago to promote the welfare of New Mexicans who are no longer able to manage their financial and personal affairs,” said Judge Franchini, the chaired the committee.
The Supreme Court formed the steering committee after legislators approved improvements to the guardianship system in 2018.
Other WINGS members include: First District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid; Twelfth District Court Judge Dan Bryant; Anastasia Martin, Secretary of Aging and Long-Term Services Katrina Hotrum-Lopez; Alice Liu McCoy, executive director of the New Mexico Developmental Disabilities Planning Council; Bryce Pittenger, chief executive officer of the Interagency Behavioral Health Purchasing Collaborative; State Auditor Brian Colón; Van Snow, Agent for Attorney General Hector Balderas; State Sens. Katy Duhigg and Linda Lopez, both from Albuquerque; State Representative Joanne Ferrary of Las Cruces and Daymon Ely of Corrales; Tim Gardner, agent to the chief executive officer of Disability Rights New Mexico; Rosanna Soloperto, a professional guardian; Greg Ireland, Professor of Restoration; Veronica Chavez Neuman, family guardian; Catherine Overton, a family member who is neither a guardian nor a curator; Margaret “Peggy” Graham, an Albuquerque attorney; Dr. Christine Burns, Albuquerque Healthcare Provider; Jodi Cooper and Steven Simmerson, protected persons under guardianship; Patricia Galindo, Attorney at the Courts Administration Office; and DeAnza Valencia from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).