Every student and their family have different needs for supports. Family members believe or are often told by professionals that obtaining guardianship is necessary to make decisions for their student with a disability who is turning 18. In some cases, guardianship can be helpful and necessary. However, in many cases it is unnecessary, expensive and ineffective. As alternatives to guardianship, there are Powers’ of Attorney for healthcare, finances and education that can help balance independence and protection for your student.

An act called the Delegation of Rights to Make Educational Decisions allows a student, who is 18 years or older and their own guardian, to delegate their right to make decisions concerning their education to another person on the student’s behalf. That person could be the parent(s), another family member or other adult. The student still has a right to raise issues at IEP and transition planning meetings.

Things to be done now:

  • Do some research on guardianship and alternatives and what would be best for your student, family and circumstances.
  • Talk to your student about your continuing involvement in helping advocate for he or she’s educational, healthcare and civil rights.


The Illinois Guardianship & Advocacy Commission is an executive state agency created to safeguard the rights of persons with disabilities. Site includes FAQ on guardianship & free forms to download, including Powers’ of Attorney:

Equip for Equality (EFE) has information and free booklets about Guardianship and alternatives: What Family Members Need to Know About Guardianship & Alternativesand Guardianship and Advance Directives Self-Advocacy Book for People with Disabilities; EFE also offers free workshops on these topics:; 312.341.0022 voice; 800.537.2632 toll-free; 800.6102779 toll-free tty

Find a downloadable version of Delegation of Rights to Make Educational Decisions at

Find downloadable versions of Advance Directives at: