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Review of Public Guardianship Within the State Courts System , Report No. 95-04, September 1995
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  • Three Offices of Public Guardian have been established with state funds to serve eight counties. In 1986, the Legislature provided funds for the establishment of two Offices of Public Guardian as pilot projects - one in Leon County to serve the entire 2nd Circuit and one in Broward County (the 17th Circuit). In 1989, the Legislature provided additional funds for Hillsborough County (the 13th Circuit) to establish a contract with a non-profit organization (Lutheran Ministries) to serve as the Office of Public Guardian.
  • Since 1990, four additional Offices have been established using local funds: Dade County (the 11th Circuit); Palm Beach County (the 15th Circuit); and Collier and Lee counties in the 20th Circuit. These Offices are administered by circuit courts, non-profit organizations, or county clerks, using combinations of county funds, court filing fees, and funds from non-profit organizations. Offices of Public Guardian received $606,684 in state funds and $1,405,749 in locally generated funds for fiscal year 1993-94. For fiscal year 1994-95. Offices received $635,521 in state funds. Offices in the 2nd and 17th Circuits were established as pilot projects in 1986. In part because it is not administered as a statewide program, the Office of State Courts Administrator has not evaluated Public Guardianship to determine whether to proceed with statewide implementation.
  • Competing priorities for limited state and local resources appears to have hindered the establishment of Offices of Public Guardians in additional circuits. Seven Chief Judges in additional circuits have requested state funds to establish Offices over the last three years (1993-94, 1994-95, or 1995-96). However, the Chief Justice has not requested funds to establish additional Offices of Public Guardian in the Court's Legislative Budget Requests in recent years due to competing priorities for limited state resources.
  • Although s. 744.706, F.S., also authorizes the operations of Offices of Public Guardian to be financed by funds raised through local efforts, we identified several obstacles to obtaining county funding for Offices of Public Guardian: 1) some counties are reluctant to fund additional programs; 2) court filing fees are already high; and 3) if the court filing fees are raised, the county is required to produce matching funds.

    Copies of this report in print or alternate accessible format may be obtained by telephone (850/488-0021), by FAX (850/487-9213), in person, or by mail (OPPAGA Report Production, Claude Pepper Building, Room 312, 111 W. Madison St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-1475).
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