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Administration on Aging (AoA)

Draft Voluntary Consensus Guidelines for State APS Systems

Draft Guidelines with Citations (PDF, 911KB)
Read comments | Interim Report (PDF, 193KB)

The following frequently asked questions and answers provide background on the Draft Voluntary Consensus Guidelines for State Adult Protective Services Systems:

What is Adult Protective Services (APS)?

APS is a social services program provided by state and local government nationwide serving older adults and adults with disabilities who are in need of assistance because of abuse, neglect, self-neglect or financial exploitation. APS receives and responds to reports of adult maltreatment, and works closely with consumers and a wide variety of allied professionals to maximize safety and independence. APS programs provide a range of services to the people they serve, including:

  • Receiving and investigating reports of adult maltreatment;
  • Case planning, monitoring, evaluation, and other case work and services; and
  • Providing, arranging for, or facilitating the provision of medical, social service, economic, legal, housing, law enforcement, or other protective, emergency, or support services.

As the APS system is presently configured, APS programs are often the gateway for victims who need additional community, social, health, behavioral health, and legal services to maintain independence in the settings in which they prefer to live, as well as the avenue through which their maltreatment is reported to police or other agencies of the criminal justice system.

Why did the Administration for Community Living develop these voluntary guidelines for state APS programs?

ACL envisions a comprehensive, multidisciplinary system that effectively supports older adults and adults with disabilities so they can exercise their right to live where they choose, with the people they choose and fully participate in their communities without threat of abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or financial exploitation. Adult Protective Services (APS) systems play a critical role in addressing the abuse, neglect, self-neglect, and financial exploitation too often faced by older adults and adults with disabilities. ACL is committed to supporting states in developing effective APS systems that ensure adults are afforded similar protections and services, regardless of their state or jurisdiction. Historically, there has been no federal “home” for APS nor a designated federal appropriation for this critically important service. Instead, states and local agencies have developed a wide variety of APS practices, resulting in significant variations between and sometimes within states. Strong federal leadership in addressing maltreatment of older adults and adults with disabilities must include a commitment to bolstering and assisting the APS system in responding to victims in the most effective and consistent way possible. The guidelines are informational in content and are intended to assist states in developing efficient and effective APS systems.

What was the process for creating the draft guidelines?

Before the guidelines were drafted, ACL staff reviewed research on APS practice and practice in analogous systems, reviewed documents outlining current APS practices, and integrated this information into a report. ACL then convened a working group of experts from the fields of APS and adult maltreatment. Experts were selected based on their breadth and depth of knowledge of APS practice and previous experience with similar efforts. The expert group reviewed the report findings and wrote the first draft of the guidelines.

What kinds of issues are addressed by the guidelines?

The guidelines address issues in seven overarching domains of APS:

  • Program administration
  • Time frames
  • Receiving reports of maltreatment
  • Conducting investigations
  • Service planning and intervention
  • Training
  • Evaluation/program performance

Are the guidelines the same as regulations?

The Final Guidelines will not constitute any standard or regulation, and will not create any new legal obligations, nor impose any mandates or requirements. They will not create nor confer any rights for, or on, any person.

How can I get a copy of the draft guidelines?

The draft guidelines are posted as a PDF: Draft Guidelines with Citations (PDF, 911KB).

How can I make comments on the guidelines?

The public comment period is now closed. ACL provided a public comment opportunity from July 14, 2015–November 13, 2015, and again January–February 2016. If you would like to review the comments submitted through ACL’s on-line form, please visit the Comments page, or read the comments compiled in the document Adult Protective Services Draft Voluntary Consensus Guidelines Project: Compilation of Public Comments Received by ACL (PDF, 1.53MB).

What happens after the Stakeholder Engagement period is over?

After the stakeholder engagement period, all of the comments that have been received either through the Listening Sessions or the web-based Public Comments platform will be reviewed, synthesized, and, as appropriate, integrated into the draft guidelines. For more information, please review the Interim Report (PDF, 193KB) ACL has prepared.  The Interim Report describes the Stakeholder Engagement process in detail, provides a preliminary look at the public comments received during this process, and outlines the process for integrating these comments into the final Guidelines document.

ACL anticipates the final guidelines to be issued by October 2016. Further, ACL intends to re-visit and update the guidelines every two years. The guidelines will inform ACL on many of the current priority issues in the area of APS that ACL can focus on through its other programs, including the National APS Technical Assistance Resource Center and the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System.

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Last Modified: 4/18/2016