When the Board of Directors has agreed to accept an individual for GAPS services, a GAPS Local Coordinator is appointed to represent him or her. Local GAPS Coordinators are employed directly by The Arc Oregon, and are required to obtain a National Guardian Certification within a short time after being hired. It is the responsibility of the Local Coordinator to maintain regular contact with GAPS members and their providers. This includes home visits, attending meetings, consulting with medical professionals, communicating with conservators or trustees, and monitoring all facets of the person’s life.
The Local Coordinators develop and implement semi-annual guardianship or advocacy plans for the people they serve. These plans address personal, residential, vocational (or day activities) and medical issues, and as necessary, behavioral, financial, and legal matters. Local Coordinators also write annual court reports and submit them to the court as required.
The GAPS Program Director administers the program and provides back-up support for all Local Coordinators. This ensures that GAPS staff is available 24 hours/day for emergency situations.
Along with the paid staff, some GAPS members are also matched with volunteer advocates. These trained volunteers establish personal friendships and may assist in writing plans or discussing important issues with the advisory committee. These volunteers do not have the authority to make decisions and are supervised by GAPS staff. Some of these volunteers also serve on the GAPS Advisory Committee.
GAPS promotes self-determination and, whenever possible, encourages the protected person to participate in the decision making process. The National Guardianship Association outlines two manners in which decisions should be made: Substitute Judgement (what decision would the protected person have made when competent) and Best Interest (what is in the best interest of the person). We consider what the protected person would want, given their values and preferences. If Substitute Judgement is not an option, the GAPS staff and advisory committee consider what is in the person’s best interest. In upholding the family approach, GAPS staff and committee members often ask themselves, “What would I do if this were my son or daughter?”
Local Coordinators are supervised by the GAPS Program Director, who is in turn supervised by the Executive Director of The Arc Oregon. The local coordinators consult with the Program Director for all major decisions regarding an individual’s needs.
The GAPS Advisory Committee reviews policies and procedures and makes recommendations to the Board of Directors as changes may be needed. The committee also reviews semi-annual plans presented by the local coordinators for each individual, and provides input and recommendations regarding the plans set forth by the staff.
The Board of Directors of The Arc Oregon is the legal guardian; it has the ultimate responsibility for all care related to individuals that we serve and reviews regular reports from the GAPS staff and the advisory committee.
Committee and Board members are all volunteers and have a variety of skills and experiences, including medical professionals, social workers and other specialists, as well as parents and siblings of Oregonians with intellectual/developmental disabilities.