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Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making

In 2016, Volunteers of America Minnesota and Wisconsin opened the Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making (expanding the services offered by VOA's Protective Services) with funding provided by an Elder Justice Grant through the Administration for Community Living. In partnership with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Human Services, Minnesota Elder Justice Center, and Minnesota's Working Interdisciplinary Networks of Guardianship Stakeholders (WINGS MN), the central focus of the grant is developing and establishing a replicable statewide model based on Supported Decision Making to promote safe and viable alternatives to guardianship and conservatorship in Minnesota. In August 2019, the Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making (CESDM) was recognized during the Age & Disability Odyssey Conference, which honors outstanding efforts to bring possibilities to life for older adults and people with disabilities.



The Center for Excellence staff consult with families and professionals, providing in-depth phone based consultation, information, advice, and referral, with an emphasis on identifying suitable alternatives to guardianship where possible. The Center Social Workers can also provide objective in-person assessments regarding need for guardianship and available alternatives. VOA MN's Estate & Elder Law Services provides legal and technical advice, as well as facilitation of legal tools such as Supported Decision Making Agreements, Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive Documents, and where necessary, petitioning for guardianship/conservatorship.

Impacting the Community

There is strong and growing evidence that people with disabilities are happier, safer, and healthier when they are empowered to make choices about their own lives. WINGS MN was established as part of a national movement for improving guardianship and conservatorship practices. Convened by CESDM Project Director, WINGS includes membership from legal, advocacy, court, state, county, and social service organizations.

WINGS stands for Working Interdisciplinary Network of Guardianship Stakeholders. WINGS Minnesota is dedicated to:

  • Supporting guardians and conservators, particularly family members or friends, through education to better understand best practices and their responsibilities.
  • Building awareness and processes that ensure that less restrictive alternatives are the default choice.
  • Sustaining a cooperative conversation where all members work to improve outcomes and increase self-determination for individuals who may need assistance making legal or medical choices.

In addition, the CESDM team offers a variety of training topics for professionals or community groups including alternatives that exist before moving to guardianship or conservatorship.

Contact the CESDM Guardianship Information Line to learn more
Phone: 952-945-4174 or Toll Free: 844-333-1748