Adult Protective Services

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Adult Protective Services
January 8, 2009
By Beth Gabor, Yolo County Public Information Officer & Kimberly Bellows, U.C. Davis Intern

Within the Yolo County Department of Employment & Social Services, the Adult Services Division houses two separate programs – Adult Protective Services (APS) and In-Home Support Services (IHSS). APS and IHSS both provide services to those in need, serving adults in danger of abuse or neglect, or individuals with disabilities at risk of needing out-of-home placement. This feature looks at the role of APS in Yolo County and how it contributes to the well-being of adults in our community.

Under APS, social workers investigate reports of abuse against elderly individuals, 65 years old and beyond, and dependent adults 18 to 64 years old that have physical, mental, or developmental disabilities. The types of abuse investigated by APS range from self-neglect – the most common form – to physical or financial abuse by others. Anyone can report suspected abuse. APS receives calls from friends, neighbors, family and community agencies, as well as mandated reporters, such as doctors or those involved in the custody or care of elderly and dependent populations. During 2008, Yolo County APS received over 500 reports of suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of an elderly or dependent adult.

Once a social worker visits the home and assesses the situation, APS differs significantly from its youth counterpart, Child Welfare Services. Child Welfare Services provides mandatory services to abused children, while all APS services are voluntary as the clients are adults and have the right to refuse services. An adult victim, however, must be the one to refuse service rather than another speaking on their behalf. If an adult accepts assistance, social workers design a plan with the client to meet his or her needs. Every case is different – some need help with the day-to-day activities of running a household while others need protection from financial or physical abuse, in which case law enforcement becomes involved. Whatever the problem, APS social workers coordinate with a variety of resources to serve their client.

“Our primary goal is for our clients to live as independently and safely and as possible, in a stable environment” said Diana Williams, Chief Deputy, Yolo County Department of Employment & Social Services.

APS is not a long-term case management service, but instead investigates and stabilizes the situations of at-risk adults. In situations where the at-risk adult is in need of long-term care, APS works with community partners and other agencies to develop a strategy to meet their needs. Sometimes family members can help and are simply unaware that a problem exists. APS encourages the adult and family members to work together to arrange for individualized care and services.

In 2007, APS was given a new tool at its disposal, thanks to then Assemblymember Lois Wolk. Banks and financial institutions became mandated reporters of elder financial abuse allowing APS to intervene in cases of abuse before financial crisis ensues ultimately protecting the investments of potential victims. The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office also has programs in place to address these issues and educate older adults on how to protect themselves. Currently, financial abuse is one of the fastest growing types of elderly abuse in the county.

For more information on Adult Protective Services and the Yolo County Department of Employment & Social Services visit: Adult Services or call (916) 375-6239/toll free (888) 675-1115.