Special Projects Fund

Grantee Name

Project Guardianship

Funding Area

Special Projects Fund

Publication Date

September 2023

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

January 2022 – December 2022

People in New York State’s guardianship system are struggling with serious functional limitations that negatively impact their decision-making abilities and quality of life.

When a person has limitations or diminishing capacity, an individual or entity can petition a court to appoint a guardian to help manage the person’s personal or property needs. In many cases, a family member, friend, or hired private guardian is appointed.

However, for people who do not have family or friends who can serve and/or who have limited financial means, it is extremely difficult to find a high-quality guardian. New York State does not offer a public guardian program for low-income people, instead relying on a patchwork of services from Adult Protective Services, community guardian programs, nonprofits, and attorneys. This fragmented system is not working for the patients who need the most help. In 2021, NYHealth awarded Project Guardianship a grant to create a framework for an improved and better-coordinated statewide guardianship program.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

Under these grants, Project Guardianship:

  • Launched a coalition of New York State organizations including academia, government, the courts, guardians, advocates, and those with expertise in health care, social work, and legal services.
  • Worked with the New York Office of Court Administration to survey nearly 1,000 participants across the State and conducted interviews with organizations to identify gaps and assess experiences with the guardianship system.
  • Led Guardianship Access New York (GANY) to advocate for more public investment. The FY23 New York State budget included $1 million in appropriations for updated guardianship services.
  • Piloted and launched a helpline to assist individuals, families, and professionals in navigating the intricacies of the guardianship system and its alternatives.
  • Secured funding and partnered with researchers from the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging and Cardozo School of Law to develop an approach that enables older adults to retain decision-making capacity by working with trusted relatives, friends, and professionals to determine and communicate their choices.


This project laid the groundwork for Project Guardianship’s ongoing advocacy and support came at a transformational time. The project goals were perhaps overly ambitious: although the State’s $1 million investment in guardianship services signals welcome support, it falls short of what is needed to establish and sustain a robust and coordinated public guardianship system. Project Guardianship plans to build on the momentum of the State’s existing support and continue to push for statewide expansion. It will also continue advocating for a system of well-funded nonprofit guardianship services to address the need for high-quality, mission-driven services and the shortage of guardians, especially in rural communities.

In August 2023, NYHealth hosted a webinar to highlight Project Guardianship’s work.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: The New York Community Trust, the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, and the New York Foundation for Eldercare provided grants to support the creation and launch of the Guardianship Prevention and Support Helpline that was piloted during the project. The Albert & Elaine Borchard Foundation and the New York Community Trust provided grants for research on alternative decision-making supports.