Services Westchester

The Arc Westchester supports the principles and practices of person centered planning to promote self-determined lives.

To further these efforts, our guardianship staff provides information on advocacy, guardianship, decision-making supports, and alternatives to guardianship. Periodic seminars are offered to assist with completing the petition for guardianship through the Surrogate Court.


A guardian offers assistance based on the individual’s capacities and expressed wishes, while ensuring that the individual has the opportunity to express preferences and have them honored to the extent possible.

A guardian will consistently promote self-reliance and independent decision-making to the maximum extent of the individual’s abilities in all decisions pertaining to the individual. The Court only appoints a guardian after there has been an independent review of the need for guardianship. To promote best practices, the need for continued guardianship should be reviewed annually at planning meetings with the team or other appropriate party including the guardian.

Alternatives to Guardianship

Supported Decision-Making (SDM)
In 2016, Hunter College/CUNY, New York Alliance and The Arc Westchester, together with Disability Rights New York began a 5-year project funded by the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council to promote SDM in New York. SDM recognizes that all people make decisions with the help of others.

Our trained facilitators assist individuals in the process of identifying areas of need and people that can support them such as family members, friends and support staff. A written supported decision-making agreement is developed detailing areas of need and the role of the supporters.

Acceptance of agreements by third parties (banks, medical professionals) continues to be explored through legislation and regulation. For more information visit the Supported Decision-Making New York (SDMNY) website.

Health Care Proxy
Also known as advance health care directives, health care proxy enables the appointment of a trusted family member or friend to make healthcare decisions if a person loses the ability to make these decisions. Appointing a proxy ensures that health care providers follow the expressed wishes. Forms and instructions are available on the New York Department of Health’s website.

Power of Attorney
Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints someone to make decisions (property, financial and legal) on a person’s behalf. The appointment can be effective immediately and limited in scope. Forms and instructions are available on the NYS Bar Association website.

Surrogate Decision Making Committee
SDMC program is an alternative to the court system for individuals who lack capacity to provide informed consent, do not have a legally authorized decision maker to act on their behalf and are in need of non-emergency major medical procedures. The SDMC program also handles end of life decision making for qualifying individuals. For more information, call 518-549-0328 or email

For further information, please visit our contact page.

Art by: Robert Vittorini
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