Janelle Cantu

Janelle cantu
Deputy Director

Email: Janelle.Cantu@Colorado-OPG.org
Phone: 720.552.5215

Janelle was born and raised in Nebraska where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Arts with a major in Sociology. She worked as a Pharmacy Technician for about ten years before working with the State of Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services. She worked in a few different divisions holding a few different job titles. Initially, she worked as an Economic Services Worker processing Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, and other benefit programs. She worked on a pilot program which helped to develop the state’s call center. After a few years, she moved on to the Division of Developmental Disabilities as a Department of Justice Service Coordinator helping individuals transition for the state’s developmental center in the community and ensured proper supports were provided to individuals. She became a Community Support Specialist with the Division of Developmental Disabilities, where she worked with individuals with low IQs and/or cognitive impairments. Some individuals were involved in law enforcement and legal proceedings, were incarcerated, placed in a regional center, or court ordered into the department’s custody as a ward of the state. Janelle worked with the individual’s team which often included the courts, legal counsel, psychologist, therapist, and care givers to develop a safe care plan or transition plans so that the individual could be placed back into the community. As part of her extensive duties, Janelle worked with the courts to dismiss any pending legal charges. She worked with the Developmental Disability (DD) Court Custody Act under the Mental Health Board Committal Act where Janelle wrote and provided the courts with quarterly court reports. In these cases, the courts ordered these individuals that were deemed dangerous to themselves and/or others into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services DD. Thus, DD would act like the guardian for these individuals. Janelle worked hand in hand with the judges, County Attorney’s Office, defense teams, guardians, and clinicians to develop a plan to keep the individual and the community safe. Many times, she had to educate legal teams about services, and was able to prevent several cases from being ordered into the Developmental Disability Court Custody Act by ensuring the courts that a safe care plan could be implemented and maintained without court involvement and/or oversight.

In 2014, Janelle worked with the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging as an Aged and Disabled Services Coordinator.  She completed assessments to determine if the individual meets nursing home level of care, and if they would qualify for the Aged and Disabled Medicaid Waiver services. She provided them with choices for community-based waiver services or institutional services (nursing home).  In 2015, Janelle also volunteered as a Court Visitor for the Nebraska Office of Public Guardian. Janelle conducted interviews, reviewed medical documents, and drafted court reports recommending if guardianship was least restrictive and the last resort. The probate courts used these reports to determine whether guardianship was appropriate for the individual.

In 2016, Janelle became an Associate Public Guardian for the state’s Office of Public Guardian (OPG) where she served as guardian and maintained a caseload of 20 clients. Janelle also trained and mentored new guardians and interns. Janelle managed client finances and assets, medical services, mental health services, and families. She taught guardianship certification classes and offered ongoing support to private guardians. She worked with various private and public organizations for the purpose of developing local resources and services. She was responsible for estate management and sound personal and financial management to ensure the most appropriate level and highest quality of care of person and property. Janelle prepared comprehensive personal and financial court reports, maintained case records, ensured clients’ bills were paid, and attended court hearings. Janelle assisted in the collection of data and statistics for the OPG’s annual state reports.