Mental Health Association of Central Florida

Guardian Advocate

Guardian Advocate Training Program

The Guardian Advocate training program is a dynamic and vital four hour certification course. The certification does not expire. The course can offer CEU’s for those interested. This training course offers the opportunity to become better versed in patient’s rights and knowledge of the Baker Act. We provide information on when to use this act for a family member, friend, or a client. Trainees will receive a specific certification that will allow them to advocate for an individual while they are Baker Acted.

Knowledge gained from training will include:

  • Patient’s Rights
  • Your Rights as Guardian Advocate
  • Baker Act and Related Laws
  • Medication and Treatment Planning
  • Mental Health Awareness

Individual Training: Email LLane@mhacf.org now to reserve your training spot!

Guardian Advocate Volunteers

Guardian Advocate Volunteers respond to requests for temporary guardianship of involuntarily committed clients from local behavioral hospitals. When persons are involuntarily hospitalized under the Baker Act and have no family members to act on their behalf, volunteers are appointed to help encourage treatment for the clients. Volunteers advocate for the rights of the patient and act as a safety net to ensure that the patient is being treated properly and fairly in the facility. Volunteers meet with the patient 2-3 times per week and get to know them as best they can so they can make decisions using substituted judgment.

Responsibilities for this position include but are not limited to:

  • Working with staff to help make educated decisions on medicine and treatment
  • Working with the treatment team to ensure that the treatment plan is effective
  • Visiting with clients at the behavioral hospital units
  • Advocating for fair treatment of the client’s rights
  • Researching and approving medications and treatment plans

Occasional availability on Mondays and/or Wednesdays from 8:30-11 am  is preferred to participate in this program, but not required. The schedule for this volunteer position is fairly flexible, and volunteers can take on as many clients as their availability and capacity will allow.

Volunteers are legally bound to act on behalf of the patient while the Baker Act is in place, which can be a period of 6 weeks or greater.  These individuals are currently at their lowest levels of functioning due to their crisis.  They often have a lack of awareness or insight into their condition or level of wellness.   The most common diagnoses that advocates are requested for are Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Psychosis, and Schizo-affective disorder. Volunteers are often accompanied by staff members while visiting the clients.

An interview is required only for volunteer seeking individuals. A four hour certification training is required to be a Guardian Advocate. There is a nominal fee for a level 2 background check for volunteers.

If you’d like to apply for this opportunity, email Lindsey Lane at LLane@mhacf.org and Morgan Stepp at Mstepp@mhacf.org with your resume and availability. The subject of the email should read Guardian Advocate Applicant“. Any additional questions about the position will be thoroughly discussed in the interview.

Curious about what being a Guardian Advocate is all about? Check out this blog testimonial from a previous Guardian Advocate: http://www.thelifestyleplaybook.com/giving-back/ 

“A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION & FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.” (Registration #CH 1245)