Michael T. Vale
University of Akron
Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging
My summer practicum placement was at Butler County Probate Court stationed in Hamilton, Ohio. I worked with Judge Rogers and Rebecca DeLong, LSW, MSW on various projects and shadowing experiences. My primary focus was with the Guardianship program, but I was also exposed to multiple opportunities within Probate Court and the community.
In June 2015, new Ohio Guardianship law went into effect, causing the court to make adaptations to local rule and the Butler County guardianship process. My first project was to help with the creation of an updated training manual for “layperson” and volunteer guardians in the county. New requirements for the court and guardians were incorporated into the manual, which will be disseminated at upcoming educational events hosted by Probate Court. My main task was to relay information regarding the guardianship process from the Ohio Revised Code, Rules of Superintendence, and Butler County Local Rule. (Some changes to the guardianship process include continuing education requirements, an emergency guardianship process, and a complaint filing process.) Also included were sections on community resources that guardians may use to connect their individuals with services concerning higher quality of life. This project was a great way to familiarize myself with guardianship law and how it is executed at local probate court and beyond.
Involvement in the “Guardianship Connection Program” was my second project, which allowed me to meet with various guardians and “individuals under guardianship” in Butler County. Probate Court is looking to make connections with whom they serve and make sure “individuals under guardianship” are getting the best care possible. By making these visits, we can ensure that guardians are getting the resources they need to continue advocating for their individual’s best interests. These visits exposed me to multiple populations served through the guardianship process in the county including aging, mental health, developmental disabilities, drug/alcohol, and brain injury individuals. This was the most rewarding part of my summer experience, as I met some truly inspiring individuals. The relationship between guardians and their individuals span from family members to volunteers that wish to make a difference in a person’s life. I learned how valuable these connections are between the probate court and the guardians/individuals in the county. They provide an outlet not only for educating guardians, but making a face-to-face effort to truly get to know whom Butler County is serving in this program.
My opportunities with Butler County Probate Court and the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program provided a great blending of exposure to both local and state level agencies and aging related resources. Learning about community resources and its connection to state level agencies and policy was exactly what I wanted out of my experience this summer. It was also very insightful to learn from other Gerontology students about their experiences and learn from ODA staff. Learning from others about their impact on the aging population is what makes the OAGE program so important to the future of a student, like me. Thank you for this opportunity to participate this summer!