HHSA Committee Extends Guardianship Contract with Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries

On November 17, 2021 Cuyahoga County Council’s Health, Human Services, and Aging committee met to hear one contract, a contract extension for Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries (LMM) for adult guardianship services. Guardianship is a part-legal/part-social relationship and guardians serve as concerned, caring advocates and surrogate decision-makers.

The contract, a one-year extension from December 31, 2021, to December 31, 2022, will add $605,285. The program is jointly funded by the Department of Senior and Adult Services (DSAS) and the Cuyahoga County Probate Court. The contract originally began as a twenty-four-month contract and included one option year. A new RFP will be issued in 2022. LMM was the sole respondent to the RFP that was issued in 2019.

County testimony outlines the support provided by guardianship

Testifying on behalf of the county was Paul Porter, Director of the Division of Contract Administration and Performance for Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services.

If a person needs support and a primary caregiver becomes incapacitated or passes away, a person may find themselves in need of the guardianship program.

He opened his remarks with an explainer on the basics of the guardianship program. After a primary caregiver becomes incapacitated or passes away, an individual may find themselves in need of guardianship support. Referrals to LMM come from the Adult Protective Services department at the Cuyahoga County Senior and Adult Services, or directly from the Cuyahoga County Probate Court itself.

Once LMM receives the referral, they investigate to decide if they need guardianship services or alternative options. At any given moment, LMM has the capacity of up to 532 individuals and there is no waitlist, according to Porter.

Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries outlines caseloads and resources

Following Porter’s remarks was Maria Foschia, Chief Operating Officer of LMM and Mike Garvey, who serves as a Program Director. They presented a PowerPoint (posted below), which explained how the program has 15 full-time court-appointed staff. About 12 of those staff members have a “full caseload,” which means they are responsible for about 35-40 people on a regular basis. Additionally, LMM has about 80 volunteers who may have one or two wards assigned to them, though the individuals assigned to them are in more stable environments, such as those who are in nursing home settings. The guardians operated under National Guardianship Association ethical practice standards. The PowerPoint also featured a funding breakdown of the program, which comes from public, private, and non-profit sources. This was a question that came up in the previous presentation to the HHSA committee. The PowerPoint also detailed how LMM has adapted to meet the needs of individuals through the pandemic by virtual meetings, as well as practicing strict safety protocols if meeting in-person. Services provided such as case management, home health services, and home-delivered meals were not disrupted during the crisis.

Services provided such as case management, home health services, and home-delivered meals were not disrupted during the crisis.

Porter closed his remarks by explaining that the contract is paid initially by county health and human service levy funds. Then at the end of the year, the portion from the probate court is paid out of the Indigent Fund, which is funded through court filing fees.

The contract was approved under second reading and referred to the full Council.

The meeting was then adjourned.

View a copy of the presentation here.