More than 500,000 incidents of adult maltreatment are estimated to occur in the United States each year. While only a small percentage are formally reported to adult protective services (APS) agencies responsible for investigating them, the number of reported incidents is steadily increasing. The number of maltreatment or self-neglect reports will continue to grow as more states require mandatory reporting by social workers and medical service providers, and the US population ages. Increases in population size and number of mandated reporters are likely to result in a dramatic increase in the demand for the services provided by APS agencies.
States created APS agencies to provide social services and legal aid to adults who may need assistance to defend or care for themselves. A primary task of these agencies is to respond to allegations of maltreatment, including abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual), financial exploitation, neglect by another person, and self-neglect. State APS agencies vary in terms of the extent of service provision beyond initial investigation, which is more often than not defined by state law. But while APS policies and procedures may differ, all APS agencies face very similar case management decisions. For example, as part of their investigations, APS workers must evaluate the current safety of their clients as well as the risk to their clients’ future well-being.
NCCD helps APS agencies use research as the basis for APS service decisions through the implementation of research-based and structured assessments. Identifying adults who are at high risk of subsequent maltreatment or self-neglect may help workers target engagement efforts more effectively toward those adults most in need of long-term services.
Selected APS publications: