TOPEKA – During an average year, the state of Kansas investigates about 15,000 reports of abuse, neglect and/or exploitation of vulnerable adults. To bring heightened awareness of the issue, Governor Sam Brownback signed a proclamation designating June as Adult Abuse Awareness Month.
The Adult Protective Services Program under the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) responds to reports of abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults age 18 and older who or are unable to protect themselves. This population includes those with physical, emotional or mental impairments. These impairments may affect an individual’s ability to manage his/her home and personal or financial affairs. Although a majority of reports involve older adults, an increasing number of younger individuals are suffering from abuse.
The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services’ Survey, Certification and Credentialing Commission is responsible for investigating allegations of abuse, neglect, exploitation or failure to provide adequate care and services to residents in adult care homes licensed by the agency. Investigations are done to determine compliance with federal and state regulations regarding the health, safety, and welfare of any resident of any licensed adult care home. The Commission operates a toll-free hotline for the purpose of providing free phone access to report allegations of abuse, neglect, exploitation, violations of state and federal regulations and failure to provide adequate care of individuals residing in adult care homes.
The Office of the Kansas Securities Commission (KSC) seeks to root out investment fraud that is of particular concern to older Kansans. The KSC’s presentation Outsmarting Investment Fraud educates on the threat across the state. The KSC estimates that financial abuse costs Kansas adults about $2.9 a year.
“It is the responsibility of every Kansan to report suspected abuse,” DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said.
DCF has greatly increased its focus on fiduciary abuse in recent years. The agency has on its staff an auditor dedicated to pursuing financial exploitation of vulnerable Kansans in partnership with law enforcement agencies.
The most common report of abuse to DCF, at 43 percent, is of “self-neglect” in which the vulnerable adult may not be caring for themselves as needed. The agency welcomes such reports from vigilant friends and neighbors.
Suspicions of abuse can be reported by calling the Kansas Protection Report Center at 800-922-5330.
How APS helps:
- Initiate a personal visit with the adults with 24 hours to five working days
- Contact sources to obtain additional information (with the adult’s consent)
- Interview the alleged perpetrator (with the adult’s consent)
- Discuss actions to take with the adult and guardian, conservator or caretaker
- Assist in locating services (legal, medical, mental health, etc.)
- Initiate involuntary intervention
- Provide advocacy
- Coordinate services
- Determine if abuse has occurred
- Provide the alleged perpetrator the opportunity to appeal
- Notify appropriate law enforcement if a criminal act has occurred
Upcoming Awareness Event:
The Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas has planned an event in Wichita to raise awareness of adult abuse issues. Law enforcement officers and the Sedgwick County district attorney will be among those speaking at Botanica Gardens from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., on June 25, in Wichita. For more information, go to http://www.mhasck.org/what_we_do/seniors/elder-abuse-awareness-day.html
(Pictured back row, left to right: Dean Rinner, Keith Johnson, Joe Ewert, KDADS commissioner, Craig Kaberline, KDADS commissioner, Sandra Kimmons, DCF Director of Economic and Employment Services, Leslie Hale, APS Program Manager.
Front row, left to right: Deb Schwarz, Vida Beck, Shirley Johnson, Governor Sam Brownback, Barbara Hickert, DCF Long Term Care Ombudsman, Rachel Monger, Leading Age/APS Advisory Council, Jeremy Hall, Brewster Place Vice President)