Doctoral Dissertation Proposes Conservatorship Reforms

Barbara Imle, member of the board of trustees of Spectrum Institute, submitted her doctoral dissertation on December 13, 2022. It is titled “‘The Call is Coming from Inside the House:’ Tracing Experiences in the Institutionally-Centered Process of Establishing Limited Conservatorships in California.” Imle is scheduled to receive a Ph.D. degree in Sociology from Portland State University in March 2023.

The dissertation’s findings and recommendations are based on observations of 93 limited conservatorship proceedings, interviews of 16 individuals and professionals with experience in the conservatorship process or reform efforts, a survey of California’s 21 regional centers, and a review of policy reports and professional articles published about the impact of conservatorships on adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD). Some 14 of those publications were produced by Spectrum Institute.

As the abstract explains: “This study reflects that the process is not individualized, and that people with IDD continue to be viewed as incompetent and unworthy of the civil rights many American adults take for granted. By mapping out the complex process, this research highlights areas for potential change and provides recommendations to make the process more person-centered, and one that prioritizes disability rights over institutional goals.”

The dissertation is a major contribution to the conservatorship reform movement and will be helpful to advocates as they enlist support from legislators, judges, and disability service agencies and professionals in promoting alternatives to conservatorships and the use of person-centered planning in the conservatorship evaluation process.

Congratulations Barbara on a job well done! You have earned the title of Dr. Imle. The members of the Board of Trustees of Spectrum Institute are proud of you.

To read or download the 181-page dissertation, click here.  For a 23-page summary, click here.