Guardian certification in Illinois is voluntary except for Illinois Public Guardians (PG) and per agency policy for the Office of State Guardians. PGs are bound by law to be certified. The Probate Act states:
Sec. 13-1.2. Certification requirement. Each person appointed as a public guardian by the Governor shall be certified as a National Certified Guardian by the Center for Guardianship Certification within 6 months after his or her appointment. The Guardianship and Advocacy Commission shall provide public guardians with professional training opportunities and facilitate testing and certification opportunities at locations in Springfield and Chicago with the Center for Guardianship Certification. The cost of certification shall be considered an expense connected with the operation of the public guardian’s office within the meaning of subsection (b) of Section 13-3.1 of this Article.
Being a family or professional certified guardian is important to ensure the decisions made are the very best for the one under guardianship. However, most family guardians are not certified and receive very little training prior to appointment. The procedure for professionals and family guardians, if one chooses to take the certification route, is the same.
The process for certification for all guardians is administered by the Center for Guardianship Certification (CGC) found at www.guardianshipcert.org). The educational component for certification and continuing education is provided by the National Guardianship Association (NGA) found at www.guardianship.org). In short, the process consists of the successful completion of an exam consisting of multiple-choice questions related to best practices in guardianship. A passing score is 75%. Please see the article in the November 2016 Guardian Bulletin for a comprehensive overview of guardian certification written by the Executive Director of the CGC. The article outlines all the requirements for taking the certification route.
The CGC will assist in providing a testing site as needed. For more information, please contact the CGC on their website or call 717-238-4689.
If you are not ready to commit to the certification process, there are alternative ways to become an informed, educated guardian.
The NGA provides a “Fundamentals” webinar consisting of four modules: the basics of guardianship, guardian of the person, guardian of the estate, and rights and alternatives. The cost for the four-module course is $120 to NGA members. For non-members, the cost is $170.
The NGA has also developed Standards of Practice for Guardians, and the Model Code of Ethics that are available at no cost on the NGA website and the IGA website, you can find that HERE.
The Illinois Guardianship Association (IGA) has an excellent Family Guardian Manual, available at no cost, on its website, www.illinoisguardianship.org. It can be downloaded from the website by clicking HERE.
If you are interested in knowing more about being a guardian, membership to the IGA may be a good step to take.
Becoming a member of IGA allows guardians:
To network with other family and professional guardians.
To obtain updated information on legislative changes related to your service as a guardian.
To access resources that are invaluable to family and professional guardians.
Being an educated guardian is important for all guardians to protect the wellbeing of the persons under guardianship. Guardians make difficult decisions. Receiving education and training helps the guardian make educated, informed decisions vital to the health and happiness of the persons for whom they serve as guardians. Merely being well-intentioned is no longer adequate to the provision of guardianship services. If there is a conflict regarding the guardianship services being provided, it is of immeasurable value to be able to show others, including the court, that you are an informed, educated guardian or a certified guardian.
By Kathy Eddy, Certified Master Guardian Emeritus and
Perry H. Patterson, IGA Board