Parents of children (and adults) with disabilities and self-advocates need to be aware that supported decision-making can be a preferred alternative to guardianship. While parents may have legitimate concerns about their youth/young adult’s ability to make decisions about their own health care, education, finances, living situation, etc., youth and young adults with disabilities have the right to be involved in and make their own decisions about their lives. Supported decision-making may be the choice that best fits parents’ needs and maximizes the dignity and independence of their youth/young adults with disabilities or special health needs.
Principles of Supported Decision-Making
- All individuals of legal age are persons before the law and have a right to self-determination and respect for their autonomy, irrespective of disability.
- All adults are entitled to the presumption of capacity and identity
irrespective of disability, and to the decision-making supports necessary to exercise capacity and reveal identity.
- Decisions made interdependently with family, friends, and trusted others chosen by the individual will be recognized and legally validated.
- All individuals have a will, and this will is capable of being interpreted and forming the basis for competent decision-making and identity.
- Individuals are entitled to the supports and services necessary for full participation and equality. The provision of such supports will lessen the need for legal intervention in decision-making.
- Third-party interests and liability concerns do not provide a valid justification for removing a person’s decision-making rights.
Lots to learn and consider on topics like education, finances and information about the court process and what a supported decision agreement looks like. There are additional resources when looking for information on supported decision making, many are listed in our Resource Guide in this Toolkit. VFN also has a fact sheet on Supported Decision Making: A Guide for Families and Supporters. Here is a tool to help determine which supports are needed: Making Choices About Supported Decision Making