Quality Trust’s Legal Advocacy team works with people to help them get the supports and services they need to live full and meaningful lives in the places and ways they choose. Our work includes:
- Providing legal services to people with developmental disabilities and their families on issues involving capacity, consent and the right to self-determination; accessing public benefits and services; community integration; and living life free from abuse and neglect.
- Leading the Jenny Hatch Justice Project, which provides advocacy and representation to eligible people with disabilities facing or in adult guardianship. This project focuses on protecting and advancing people’s “Right to Make Choices,” including providing assistance in exploring available alternatives, such as Supported Decision-Making, Powers of Attorney, Advance Directives, and other options, as well as going to court to limit or end overly restrictive adult guardianships.
- Advocating for changes to laws, regulations, policies, and practices to make sure they respect and protect the rights of people with disabilities.
- Providing education, training, and support on topics including education, employment, public benefits, finances, guardianship, and alternative decision-making support, and end-of-life planning.
Our work has been covered by the Washington Post, CBS News, People Magazine, the Huffington Post, MSNBC, and numerous other outlets.
2019 – 2020 Highlights
- Provided legal services in over 475 matters impacting DC residents with disabilities.
- Conducted over 25 legal presentations and trainings in DC on issues involving guardianship and alternatives, DC commitment reform, and public benefits.
- Tracked policy developments impacting people with disabilities and advocating for needed changes and improvements
- Served on the Steering Committee of the Council for Court Excellence’s project that published a comprehensive DC guide on guardianship and alternatives, “When Adults Need Help Making Decisions: A Non-Lawyer’s Guide to D.C.’s Legal Tools for Assisting Adults”
- Served under a cooperative agreement related to the National Council on Disabilities’ report, “Turning Rights into Reality: How Guardianship and Alternatives Impact the Autonomy of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
The Jenny Hatch Justice Project assisted Ryan, an adult with developmental disabilities, win back his legal rights to direct his own life, with the support of his family. When Ryan turned 18, his parents were told they had to become his guardians in order for him to receive services from the District of Columbia. Even though they believed he could make his own decisions and had always supported him to do so, they reluctantly agreed. But Ryan and his family never stopped hoping that one day, he would be legally free to make his own decisions. With the support of Quality Trust and key partners, Ryan and his family went back to court and successfully showed that Ryan could use Supported Decision-Making to make his own decisions and did not need a guardian. As a result, Ryan became the first DC resident to have his guardianship ended in favor of Supported Decision-Making.
- Press Release: Freedom for Ryan King (12/12/2016)
- More about Ryan King’s Quest, including videos
- Susie J. King, Our Journey of Supported Decision-Making for Ryan, an article in the Impact Feature Issue on Self-Determination and Supported Decision-Making for People with Intellectual, Developmental, and Other Disabilities (Vol. 32, No. 1, 2019)
To learn more about our legal services and supports or to volunteer with the Legal Department, email Morgan Whitlatch, Legal Director or call 202-459-4004 (direct line).