What is SAFE?
SAFE stands for Special Advocates for Elderly and is a Douglas County program serving the Ninth Judicial District of Nevada.
SAFE volunteers are appointed by a judge to advocate for vulnerable adults in court. Adults are most often the elderly, but can also be adults with cognitive or developmental disabilities or any person who is incapable of, or needs assistance in, protecting his or her own interests. SAFE volunteers are well-trained men and women who have the time, heart and commitment to investigate a situation and then report back to the Judge. A report to the judge helps enable the court to determine the action that will be the least restrictive and in the best interests of the adult who is facing guardianship.
SAFE volunteers advocate on behalf of an adult, ensuring the services they are receiving are enhancing their quality of life. Essentially, a SAFE gives the court additional insight and information into the situation surrounding the adult client. A SAFE searches for information, reviews records, and talks to neighbors and family, in an effort to paint a clear picture for the Judge.
What is guardianship and why would someone need a SAFE?
The State of Nevada self-help website says, “a ‘general guardianship’ may be needed over an adult if the adult is incapacitated, meaning the person is unable to take care of himself or herself due to mental illness, mental deficiency, disease, or mental incapacity. A ‘special guardianship’ may be needed if the adult is of limited capacity, meaning the person can make some, but not all decisions necessary for his or her own care.” Frequently guardianships are needed due to dementia or other cognitive decline for an older person.
As mentioned above, a SAFE advocate can help be a voice for the person facing guardianship and through a report to the Court, help the Judge determine the best course of action for the person.
How much time does being a SAFE require?
A SAFE volunteer should anticipate 1- 2 hours/week for a case, plus court appearances and report writing. While each case is different, typically the initial investigation and interviews take more time because an advocate is learning about a new situation. Therefore, the first 30 days of a case can take up to 4 hours per week. SAFE volunteers are expected to attend court hearings, write reports and meet with the adult at least monthly
How do you become a SAFE Volunteer?
A SAFE must be over the age of 21, and have the willingness and ability to volunteer their time for the elderly in our community. Advocates are expected to communicate effectively and be able to write objective reports to the court. Advocates must complete 20 hours of initial training, pass a background check, and provide three non-family references. All advocates are screened through an interview process to ensure objectivity, competence and commitment. After completing all training and background check requirements, volunteers are sworn in as a SAFE. Ongoing case management with a supervisor and continuing education is required.
Manager of Court Advocacy Programs
SAFE of Douglas County
1038 Buckeye Rd.
P.O. Box 218
Minden, NV 89423
(775) 782-6247 – fax: (775) 782-6256