- Report Published -
|Report on Adult Protective Services: Training of Mandated Reporters and Public Awareness Strategies|
|Department of Social Services|
|Chapter 749 (Regular Session, 2004)|
|(The .pdf report was replaced by author on 11/01/2004.)|
The 2004 General Assembly passed legislation to amend the Code of Virginia relating to Adult Protective Services (APS). An enactment clause in Chapters 1011 and 952 of the 2004 Acts of Assembly charged the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) with the following:
"3. That the Department of Social Services shall develop a plan and cost estimate to prepare, disseminate and present educational programs and materials on adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation to all categories of newly mandated reporters under § 63.2-1604 of this act by November 1, 2004, and that the penalty provisions of subsection H of § 63.2-1606 shall not apply to such newly mandated reporters until the delivery of such training. The Commissioner shall report to the Governor and the General Assembly on the plan and estimated costs no later than November 1, 2004."
The VDSS has met the mandate to prepare, disseminate, and present education materials and programs on abuse, neglect, and exploitation for all newly mandated reporters, as required above. All costs associated with this effort were absorbed within the existing budget at VDSS and shared with stakeholders who provided education and training pro bono. This report describes VDSS' education and training initiatives for mandated reporters and the public regarding the Adult Protective Services (APS) Program Specifically, the education and training focused on how to recognize and report abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults as required by the legislative mandated.
Local departments of social services receive and investigate more than 10,000 reports of adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation annually. Adult protective services is the only program authorized by the Code of Virginia (§ 63.2-1607) to investigate suspected abuse, neglect, and exploitation across all care settings. Reports alleging that adults are abused, neglected, or exploited, or are at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation and are unable to protect their own interests due to vulnerability associated with incapacity or due to a mental or physical disability are investigated. Services are provided to those adults who are found, through an APS investigation, to require protective services.
Upon the passage of the amended APS law, VDSS promptly convened the APS Advisory Committee. This committee was composed of long-term care and aging partners including advocates, long-term care representatives, other state agencies, and researchers. The committee was instrumental in the development of the legislation and was kept apprised of the training and educational efforts planned and conducted.
The best national estimate of the incidence and reporting of elder abuse and neglect is that only 16 percent of all incidences are reported to APS. Nationally, the number of unreported incidents is five times greater than the number of cases reported to APS (National Elder Abuse Incidence Study (NCAIS), 1998). Many researchers have indicated that we have just seen the "tip of the iceberg" of reported adult abuse cases. Based on national data of unreported abuse, there could be another 60,000 cases of adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation that occur annually in Virginia that are not reported.
Adult abuse literature reports that programs that demonstrate collaborative, multidisciplinary efforts are most successful in identifying and preventing adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation. In a December 2002 legislative report on APS drafted by VDSS, in collaboration with the APS Advisory Committee, several recommendations were made to encourage statewide reporting of adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation and cooperation among the various human services agencies that serve vulnerable adults. Many of these recommendations were included in the 2004 APS legislation.
General Accounting Office (GAO) reports in 1991 and 2002 reviewed information on adult abuse. The GAO found that the number of adult abuse cases that states identify and investigate is strongly influenced by many factors including reporting laws. However, reporting laws are much less effective than other strategies for maximizing the number of adult abuse cases identified, prevented, and treated. The most important factors in recognizing adult abuse, according to the reports, are as follows:
• A high level of public and professional awareness. The most effective factor for maximizing the number of cases identified is an increased level of awareness of what adult abuse is and how to report it.
• Provision of home-based services. Efforts to raise awareness of adult abuse, to improve interagency coordination of efforts, and to increase the availability of in-home services have a significant impact on the effectiveness of adult abuse prevention programs.
This report focuses on the implementation of the initiatives involving the education and training of mandated reporters. Many training sessions have already occurred since the passage of this legislation. Information has been developed and disseminated to all mandated reporter groups, both those newly mandated as well as those who were already mandated reporters. In addition, VDSS has developed training materials, including posters, brochures, and electronic presentations for local departments of social services, community groups, employers of mandated reporters, and others to use for training purposes.