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Adult Protective Services Perspective

NCJ Number
Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect Volume: 7 Issue: 2/3 Dated: special issue (1995) Pages: 69-87
P M Mixson
Date Published
19 pages
This chapter discusses the development of adult protective services (APS) programs in the United States in relation to Federal law and policy, depicting the variety in such programs among the States; it then describes ethical values and protocols as well as systemic constraints in public agency practice.
APS, as used in this chapter, refers to publicly funded programs that investigate and intervene in reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of adults who are physically or mentally impaired and unable to protect themselves from harm. APS in the United States apparently originated in 1958 when the National Council of Aging created an ad hoc committee of social workers to "discuss the potential nationwide need for some type of protective service for elderly persons. Although the Federal Government had funded six protective service programs for the elderly by 1968, a U.S. Senate special committee identified fewer than 20 community protective services programs. The next milestone in the development of APS occurred in 1975, when Congress enacted Title XX of the Social Security Act to strengthen the delivery of social services in the States. to receive Title XX funds, States were required to provide protective services to children, elderly people, and adults with disabilities who were reported to be abused, neglected, or exploited. The Federal support anticipated after the passage of Title XX did not materialize, however, until late in the following decade. After the 1984 amendments to the Older Americans Act mentioned the need for a national study of elder abuse, the 1987 amendments authorized a $5 million appropriation for an elder abuse prevention program. Congress, however, did not appropriate funds for the prevention of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation until 1991 and thereafter through the 1992 reauthorization of the Older Americans Act. This chapter's discussion of APS in the public agency focuses on variety among programs, practice guidelines, systemic constraints on ethical practice in the public agency, competing values in APS practice, and balancing autonomy and protection. The author then discusses APS ethical concepts and issues as applied to the three case examples, illustrating the need for multidisciplinary cooperation and coordination to gather the information and resources necessary to resolve the presenting problems. 13 references