Virginia Public Guardianship Program

Virginia's public safety net includes public guardianship for adults who are:

  • Incapacitated;
  • Indigent; and
  • In need of someone to help them make medical, financial, or daily living decisions, but who have no suitable person to serve as their guardian.

The Division for Community Living contracts with human service agencies across the Commonwealth to provide public guardianship services. A public guardian visits with each client, personally, at least once a month, and depending on the client's needs, supervises medical care, oversees residential care, monitors social service benefits, and advocates on the behalf of the client. A public guardian can, at the direction of a Virginia Circuit Court, also serve as conservator for individuals who are indigent and in need of public guardianship but have some minimal financial assets that need to be disposed of or managed. The Virginia Code provisions governing the program appear in Sections 15.5-149 et seq.  The regulations appear in 22 Virginia Administrative Code Section 30-70-10 et seq.

Here are links to two short videos with additional information about the Virginia Public Guardian & Conservator Program: and

Every two years the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services provides a report to the Virginia General Assembly on the status of the program. Copies of the two most recent reports can be found here.

2024 Biennial Report of the Virginia Public Guardianship and Conservator Program

2022 Biennial Report of the Virginia Public Guardianship and Conservator Program

How to Obtain a Public Guardian

The steps to obtain a guardian through the Virginia Public Guardian & Conservator Program are:

  1. A local referral source identifies a person who needs guardianship services.  The referral source may be any individual who is familiar with the person’s need for guardianship services, but most typically is an adult residential facility, a local office of the Virginia Department of Social Services, a hospital, or another community service organization.
  2. The referral source completes the Public Guardian Program Referral Form, which can be found here and sends a copy of the completed referral form to the local public guardian service provider (LPGSP) that provides public guardianship services in the geographic area where the person needing services resides. The referral source also may contact the appropriate LPGSP directly to ask questions before submitting the referral form. Here is a list of the local public guardian service providers.
  3. After receiving a completed referral form, the LPGSP will evaluate the referral to determine if the referred person appears to meet the criteria for public guardianship services through the LPGSP.
  4. If the referred person is accepted by the LPGSP for public guardianship, the referral source must engage an attorney to initiate a legal proceeding before a Virginia circuit court under  Virginia Code Section 64.2-2000 et seq., requesting the court to find the referred person to be incapacitated and appoint a guardian as their legal decision-maker. No one can receive public guardianship services until a Virginia circuit court finds that the individual is incapacitated and meets the criteria for public guardianship and appoints a LPGSP to serve as the public guardian.
  5. Following a court’s appointment of an LPGSP as guardian, the LPGSP will begin serving as the guardian for the incapacitated person.

In the case of individuals who were diagnosed before the age of 18 with an intellectual disability, or before the age of 22 with another developmental disability, the referral for public guardianship should be made through the Community Services Board (CSB) serving the community where the person in need of guardianship services resides rather than directly to the LPGSP.  CSB support coordinators should use the procedures found at to make the referral.


Picture guardian and client

Presently, the program has the capacity to serve 1,349 incapacitated individuals across the state. To ensure a high quality of service, the number of people any particular LPGSP can accept is capped based on the size of the LPGSP; therefore, space in the existing programs is somewhat limited. If an opening is not available for a person who appears to be eligible for public guardianship services, the LPGSP will place the person on a waiting list and the referral source will be notified when an opening becomes available. The limited size of the local public guardian programs makes finding possible alternatives to public guardianship extremely important.

A private citizen may be appointed by a court to serve as guardian for an incapacitated individual. The Virginia Public Guardian & Conservator Program does not monitor or regulate the performance of private guardians. The Virginia Supreme Court has prepared materials providing an overview of the court process used to appoint a guardian and/or conservator for an incapacitated adult in Virginia and a basic description of the roles of guardian and conservator. The materials can be found at the following links:

This information relates to guardian and conservatorship generally and does NOT specifically address public guardianship.



A Virginia court’s decision that an individual is incapacitated and in need of a guardian or conservator will limit the individual’s right to make legal decisions for themselves. Other, less restrictive, options that do not involve a court process, may be available to support individuals who need assistance with decision-making. A pamphlet discussing those options is available on the Virginia Supreme Court’s website and can be found at the following link:
Options in Virginia to Help another Person Make Decisions: Choices Less Restrictive than Guardianship and Conservatorship



Questions may be directed to the Local PGP for your geographic area or to:

Laura Koch
Director, Public Guardian & Conservator Program
Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
Phone: 804-588-3989

The Virginia Public Guardian & Conservator Program strives to provide and meet high standards for all clients served. If you believe that a person receiving public guardianship services is being treated inappropriately or unfairly, please follow the complaint process.

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