Pennsylvania Courts Awarded Federal Grant to Further Develop Programs to Protect Elders

The Pennsylvania Courts have been awarded nearly $1 million in federal Elder Justice Innovation Grant funds to protect older Pennsylvanians. Pennsylvania was one of three states to receive the award.

The three-year grant, awarded through the federal Administration for Community Living, Elder Justice Innovation Grant program, aims to provide assistance to states in their efforts to assess and implement improvements in the handling of adult guardianship cases.

“We are grateful for this grant award which will allow us to continue educating elders and their families about guardianship,” Pennsylvania Chief Justice Debra Todd said. “Knowledge is power and these additional resources provide a tremendous opportunity to develop new and innovative programs and trainings which will give people the information they need to change lives across Pennsylvania.

“We are pleased that Pennsylvania was successful in winning this award, amid such a competitive group of applicants. We extend our sincere thanks to the Administration for Community Living.”

The grant work in Pennsylvania will be overseen by the Office of Elder Justice in the Courts (OEJC) which was established by the Supreme Court to assist the Court in implementing recommendations contained in the 2014 Elder Law Task Force’s Report and Recommendations. The OEJC, along with the Advisory Council on Elder Justice and the Courts, is committed to protecting Pennsylvania’s rapidly growing population of elders from all forms of abuse and neglect, promoting best practices and educating judges, court staff, attorneys, guardians and the public about elder abuse.

Among the projects planned, the OEJC and the Advisory Council intend to deploy two pilot projects focused on providing trained counsel to represent alleged incapacitated persons in guardianship proceedings and using court-appointed volunteer monitors to visit the individual prior to and following the appointment of a guardian. They will also develop and implement continuing education programs and online video modules for judges, court staff, attorneys and guardians.

“We are thrilled to pilot these new programs along with the help of our court and community partners,” Montgomery County Administrative Orphans’ Court Judge Lois Murphy said. “Initiatives like these directly impact elders and their families and allow us to learn more about what they need and how we can further develop relationships to continue building on the existing system in place to support elders and their families.”