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Stetson’s Center for Excellence in Elder Law now hosts WINGS guardianship collaboration

Regular News

Wings programThe Center for Excellence in Elder Law at Stetson University will assume the leadership of WINGS, a national guardianship program incubated by Florida’s courts and now transitioning to the state’s acknowledged experts and national leaders in this area of specialization.

WINGS, or Working Interdisciplinary Network of Guardianship Stakeholders, began with a grant awarded to Florida’s Office of the State Courts Administrator from the ABA’s Commission on Law and Aging. The transfer and evolution from startup to mature program allows the continuation of WINGS following the completion of the grant.

Stetson University, a stakeholder in WINGS from its inception in 2017, will coordinate meetings of WINGS, host its website, and manage the work of the program through the Center for Excellence in Elder Law and its faculty, including Professors Rebecca Morgan and Roberta Flowers.

Decision-making-option-toolkitMorgan and Flowers created a video series used to train and educate attorneys nationwide on the ethical dilemmas faced by elder law attorneys. They were awarded the Florida Supreme Court Professionalism Award for their video productions. In addition, they designed the nation’s first elder-friendly courtroom. Morgan and Flowers also developed, through WINGS, four e-learning modules to increase judges’ and attorneys’ professional competence and skills related to guardianship and less restrictive options.

There are 4.3 million Floridians aged 65 or older. A quarter of the state’s population is projected to be aged 65 or older by 2030. Increasingly, Floridians seek help from the state courts system when they or loved ones need their interests protected. Guardianship cases for adults have increased steadily, with more than 7,300 cases to establish guardianship filed in the 2017-18 fiscal year, a 13 percent increase from five years previous.

In its startup phase directed by the courts, WINGS members recommended strategies for boosting the number of physicians serving on examining committees, created an informational guide and toolkit for decision-making options, and developed a tool to help law enforcement officers and first responders identify abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

WINGS stakeholders include representatives from Florida courts, clerks of court, executive agencies, private organizations, and advocacy groups as well as family guardians and self-advocates. More information about WINGS, the guardianship e-learning modules, and other guardianship resources may be found on the Florida WINGS website at flwings.flcourts.org.