Dispute Over Disabled Man's Care Magnifies Guardianship’s Complexities
Rarely is there so much tension — or so much at stake — around giving someone hope for a family reunion as in the case of Dominic Pantoni.
Every month, Dominic intently waits at the door of his group home for his mother to arrive, and he immediately asks her, “When’s the next hearing?”
A court hearing, in Dominic's eyes, means going home, or at least leaving a place that he calls prison, said his mother, Nancy Pantoni. She has been trying since 2010 to change legal guardianship of her 27-year-old son, who has intense special needs because of a genetic disorder.
However, it’s that obsession with going home that his guardian, a caseworker with Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Pittsburgh, asserts in court record may be holding back the young man from coping with the 24-hour care he needs and taking opportunities to work or to socialize.
As a result, Pantoni’s interactions with Dominic have been restricted by the guardianship agency, which declined to comment on the specific case because of privacy concerns.