The entire world watched in shock as the story of Britney's conservatorship unfolded. If Britney Spears could be rendered powerless by this system for 13 years.... If Britney Spears had to fight as hard as she did for the basic and god-given and obvious right of legal control over her own life.... Then what does that mean for ordinary folks conserved in California? Conservators are appointed by the court to take full control over the lives of those deemed incapable of caring for themselves. The elderly and developmentally disabled are the most vulnerable and most frequently conserved. Once conserved it is not legally possible for a person to escape without the conservator and court consent.
It is now one year after #FreeBritney supporters celebrated her hard-earned win with tears in their eyes. Not only has the spirit of the movement lived on, it has evolved and expanded. The public conservatorship of Britney Spears inspired a larger movement to reform the conservatorship process in the Bay Area.
Two dedicated, creative, and impactful groups have emerged from that pick up where #FreeBritney left off.
California Justice is a network of Alameda county families impacted by the conservatorship abuse of elderly relatives. Families United for Equity is a group of parents, community activists, and whistleblowers. The group has been protesting California Department of Developmentally Services (DDS) for most of the year, demanding the resignation of Nancy Bargman for lack of leadership. Both groups have been making waves in their individual reform efforts, bolstered by the #FreeBritney movement and the ABC 10 in-depth investigation and two part series: "The Price of Care"
Published: Sep 30, 2022
AB 1663 reforms California’s probate conservatorship system to help disabled and older individuals needing support to lead self-determined lives
AB 1195 supports the hiring of people with disabilities within state government
SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that he has signed AB 1663 by Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, which reforms California’s probate conservatorship system to enable disabled and older people needing support to care for themselves to pursue supported decision-making as a less restrictive alternative to conservatorship. The bill also makes it easier to end a conservatorship.
“Our state is committed to protecting civil rights and lifting up every Californian with the supports they need to thrive in their community,” said Governor Newsom. “This measure is an important step to empower Californians with disabilities to get needed support in caring for themselves and their finances, while maintaining control over their lives to the greatest extent possible. I thank Assemblymember Maienschein and the broad coalition of advocates whose leadership has advanced this transformative reform to protect self-determination for all Californians.”
AB 1663 establishes supported decision-making in statute as an alternative to probate conservatorship. This is a process in which adults with intellectual, developmental, dementia, and other disabilities who need support to care for themselves or their finances can consult with trusted supporters while making choices about their life, without jeopardizing their self-determination. The bill also requires that alternatives to conservatorship are included for consideration in a petition for conservatorship, and requires courts to provide conservatees with information regarding the rights that they retain. Under AB 1663, courts are allowed to terminate a conservatorship without a hearing if both the conservatee and conservator agree to termination.
“Everyone deserves to have control over the choices they make in their daily lives, including individuals with disabilities. AB 1663 prioritizes that right by emphasizing less-restrictive alternatives to probate conservatorships, specifically Supported Decision-Making. I am grateful that the Governor signed this important legislation today,” said Assemblymember Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego).
State law allows the courts to appoint a conservator for an adult when a third party such as law enforcement or Adult Protective Services is concerned about the health, safety or welfare of a person and there has been a comprehensive review of the individual’s circumstances. Information about recent actions by the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to support individuals conserved by DDS can be found here.
Governor Newsom also signed AB 1195 by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) which facilitates the hiring of people with disabilities within state government through the Limited Examination and Appointment Program (LEAP).
The California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) is failing the developmentally disabled under the leadership of Nancy Broadmoor. Families United for Equity is a community activist group fighting back against inequity and criminal negligence in DDS.
I want to live at home.' Garth Schutte, 40, is under a conservatorship. His family isn't allowed to know where he is, or speak to him. What's funding this is your tax dollars. In "The Price of Care: Taken by the State," Andie Judson continues her investigation into conservatorships and the state agency failing the people it has promised to protect: adults with developmental disabilities. Watch Season One Many have heard of conservatorships by way of Britney Spears or the Golden Globe winning Netflix film, “I Care a Lot.” One year in the making, the ABC10 Originals 5-part series, “The Price of Care: Investigating California Conservatorships” by investigative reporter Andie Judson, dove into the systemic issues of conservatorships in California and what's being done to regulate this $13-billion-dollar industry.