Several Champaign County agencies are combining their expertise and resources to strengthen services for local senior citizens at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation. This effort, coordinated by Adult Protective Services (APS) of the Champaign County Department of Job and Family Services (CCDJFS), is supported by an Adult Protective Services Innovation Fund grant from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
The grant is part of a $10 million Ohio initiative to strengthen and improve consistency of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation services across the state.
Each county’s APS program must meet certain core requirements but is given latitude to develop a program tailored to local resources and community needs.
Building a team
Champaign County APS is creating an interdisciplinary team (I Team) that includes local law enforcement agencies, the county prosecutor’s office, the Champaign Health District, fire and EMS departments, the Area Agency on Aging and the Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Services Board of Logan and Champaign Counties.
In preparation for the I Team launch, work is underway to develop contracts with the Champaign Health District and Consolidated Care to provide nurses and mental health professionals to accompany APS workers on home visits for higher risk seniors who have physical or mental health issues.
In addition, Stacy Cox, social services administrator of CCDJFS, said that memoranda of understanding (MOU) are being developed between CCDJFS and each of the partnering I Team agencies. The MOUs will define the responsibilities of each partner.
County ahead of state program
In many ways, Champaign County APS is ahead of the state initiative, having already implemented practices included in the new core APS requirements, which must be in place by July 1, 2016. Cox said that core requirements already in effect locally include:
A formal process for screening reports of suspected elder abuse, neglect or exploitation after office hours. She said many counties screen reported cases only during office hours, but Champaign County has been providing after-hours service with help from children’s services personnel.
Investigation and assessment of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation cases after office hours, as well as during regular hours.
Case management, to deliver appropriate services to seniors and their families.
The missing piece, she said, is developing the I Team to better address and resolve the full range of issues that contribute to abuse, neglect and exploitation.
The new state initiative also will:
Provide Champaign County APS caseworkers the most up-to-date education and training available for elder abuse, neglect and exploitation services.
Create a statewide APS data collection and reporting system by December 31. This will provide APS agencies access to key information for senior citizens who move from other counties.
Amber Spence, child and adult protective services supervisor of CCDJFS, said, “We are grateful for this new assistance. It will enable us to further improve our outreach to vulnerable seniors and assure their safety and well-being as we more fully draw on the expertise of other local agencies, from law enforcement to health care.”
As always, suspected cases of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation may be reported by calling APS at 937)-484-1500 and asking to speak with the social services intake worker.