resident Noleta Jansen is part of a pro bono clinic that helps
parents of special needs adults become court-appointed
Caring for a developmentally disabled
child often brings challenges, and sometimes more so when the child
reaches adulthood. "The age of 18 is the time when parents no
longer have the legal right to make decisions for their child,"
according to Germantown resident Noleta Jansen, an attorney with the
firm Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek, Milwaukee. It can make an already
difficult situation more complex, which is why Jansen, along with a
small group of her colleagues, established a pro bono clinic to help
parents who would otherwise not be able to afford an attorney to
become court-appointed guardians.
The Childrenís Hospital of Wisconsin
Inc. Guardianship Clinic has assisted 18 families since it was set up
in 2005. The children have a wide array of disabilities, from autism
to severe mental retardation. When Childrenís Hospital social
workers identify a family who needs the clinicís help, they contact
Jansen and her colleagues. The guardians of a child might not always
be the parents. Sometimes they are grandparents or other family
members. "We want to make sure we have someone who is able to
make medical decisions," Jansen says. "Each situation is
different and has different circumstances."
Jansen would like to see the clinic
reach more people. "Itís gratifying to be able to give
something that makes these families lives a little easier."