NCCD Now: Challenges in Adult Protective Services
Each year, there are approximately 500,000 incidents of adult maltreatment in the United States. These incidents involve older adults and adults with serious physical and cognitive disabilities. Only a small percentage of these cases are formally reported to the adult protective services (APS) agencies responsible for investigating and addressing mistreatment. However, the number of reports is growing as public awareness of the problem—and the agencies charged with addressing it—grows.
APS agencies face a daunting challenge. The allegations APS workers investigate involve physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. The most common report however, involves self-neglect, when a vulnerable adult cannot meet their own basic needs. Within this category, a core value of many APS agencies also becomes a central struggle: the adults served retain the right to make their own choices, even when those choices are not what their families, communities, or APS workers would want for them. APS staff must use a range of skills to engage with their clients to bring each case to a successful resolution.
In addition, the number of reports being made to APS agencies has increased dramatically in recent years, but funding has not. In contrast to child protective services, there are very limited federal funds available for adult protective services, and Congress has not appropriated funds for the most promising funding stream, the 2010 Elder Justice Act.
As the population ages, and demand for adult protective services grows, new practices are emerging to help agencies make the best decisions about their limited resources, and new questions are emerging in the field. NCCD has been working with our partners in APS to address these challenges. Working with agencies in New Hampshire, Minnesota, California, Virginia, and Texas, we have developed a Structured Decision Making® (SDM) system for APS to inform critical case decisions and ensure the best allocation of resources. Our work with the National Adult Protective Services Resource Center has explored evidence-based practices that could be used to help clients to the best outcomes.
During the month of October, we will feature guest and staff blog posts from people working in and researching adult protective services. We will discuss NCCD’s work in the field developing APS systems and uncovering evidence-based practices and the challenges seen by our partners.
Our bloggers this month (list and links will be updated as posts go live):
Nichole Carlisle: What APS Can Learn From Other Human Service Fields
Carmen Daugherty: Nearly Half of US States Move the Dial on Justice Reform for Youth
Kezeli Wold: A New Path for Adult Protective Services in Texas
Shannon Flasch: Developing Goals for Adult Protective Services
Shelly L. Jackson and Carrie F. Mulford: The Complexity of Responding to Elder Abuse Demands the Use of Multidisciplinary Teams
Jennifer Kirchen: The Structured Decision Making® Model in Adult Protection in Minnesota
Shannon Flasch is an Associate Director at NCCD.