This paper, part of a four-part environmental scan of the issues of abuse by guardians and systemic guardianship abuse, requested in 2021 by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), constitutes the scan of the legal, policy, and practice context and considerations for collecting data on guardianship abuse and fraud, building upon the first two parts and summarizing key guardianship data findings.
The results a four-part environmental scan of the issues of abuse by guardians and systemic guardianship abuse, requested in 2021 by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), reveal the need for more work and reform related to abuse and fraud by individual guardians and the guardianship system. The scan consisted of a literature review of research; a scan of the data landscape; a scan of legal, policy, and practice context; and considerations for data collection. This third part builds upon the first two and summarizes key guardianship data findings. The paper explains types of guardian misconduct, highlights obstacles to assessing the number of adults with guardians and the prevalence of abuse by guardians, and discusses how courts and other stakeholders can use data elements. The paper make several recommendations to enhance guardianship data collection and to address abuse and fraud by guardians. Recommendations are divided into four categories: supporting greater uniformity, allocating federal resources for state courts, expanding data sources to include guardianship, and focusing on approaches to increase collaboration and support adults subject to guardianship. Part 3 also examines possible guardianship data elements, explaining how courts and policymakers could use these elements to improve guardianship practice and address abuse. Finally, this paper suggests opportunities to enhance data on guardianship and abuse by guardians by supporting uniformity and guardianship reform practices, expanding data sources to include guardianship, and exploring DOJ actions to address abuse by guardians. The paper concludes that the federal government could directly target abuse by guardians by (1) convening key stakeholders to build infrastructure for improved interaction and protocols to address abuse and fraud by guardians; and (2) pilot and evaluate an adult guardianship CASA program.