National Policy & Advocacy

NAPSA is dedicated to promoting the safety, independence and quality-of-life for the most vulnerable adults in our society: the frail, the elderly, and persons with physical and/or intellectual disabilities who are abused, neglected and exploited.

To achieve this goal, NAPSA works to achieve the following goals:

  • Be the national voice for these largely invisible victims of crime and abuse
  • Improve public awareness about how widespread, very serious and very expensive vulnerable adult and elder abuse are
  • Advocate for national support for protective services for these victims, and build the capacity of APS throughout the country to more effectively serve them
  • Encourage and support research into effective prevention and intervention strategies for elder abuse and vulnerable adult abuse and APS
  • Expand legal protections and remedies to victims of abuse
  • Form partnerships with other national organizations to address adult abuse

NAPSA’s policy work is carried out with the assistance and dedication of Bill Benson, NAPSA’s National Policy Director, and its Public Policy Committee which sets the direction of all the organization’s advocacy work.

National Policy Initiatives

NAPSA has focused its national policy work in the following areas:

Elder Justice Act

Elder Justice Coalition 

Social Services Block Grant (SSBG)

The Social Services Block Grant, created under President Reagan, funds states to provide social services to their residents. Each state decides how its block grant will be allocated. Thirty-seven states use part of their SSBG funds to support Adult Protective Services. While this is currently the only federal money supporting Adult Protective Services, the decisions to use it for this purpose are made at the state level. For more information, see this report from the Office of Community Services at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

NAPSA is a long-time member of the Social Services Block Grant Coalition. Along with many other major social services associations, NAPSA works collaboratively to advocate with the U.S. Congress to maintain current levels of that SSBG funding.

Raising the Visibility of Elder and Vulnerable Adult Abuse and APS

In addition to participating in the Elder Justice and SSBG Coalitions, NAPSA also:

  • Meets regularly with Congressional staff, other federal employees, and allied national organizations to educate and advocate regarding issues of elder and vulnerable adult abuse, the specific needs of APS clients, and unique challenges facing APS programs.
  • Provides testimony at Congressional hearings and briefings:
    • Testimony at U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, March 2, 2011
    • Statement presented at a Senate briefing, June 2, 2011
    • Statement presented at Older Americans Act stakeholder listening session, October 11, 2011
    • Statement to the US Dept. of Labor’s Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, July 20, 2011 
  • Advocated for the establishment of a National Adult Protective Services Resource Center, similar to those federally funded for the fields of aging services, child protective services, general victims’ services, domestic violence and sexual assault programming and many other fields. The first such center was created in late 2011 with a modest discretionary grant from the Administration on Aging. NAPSA is now working to have the Center institutionalized in the Older Americans Act with a level of funding comparable to those of other such centers. 
  • Requested a groundbreaking General Accountability Office (GAO) study of Adult Protective Services, which led to their report, ELDER JUSTICE: Stronger Federal Leadership Could Enhance National Response to Elder Abuse.  The report recommended that the federal government, in particular the Administration on Aging, assume more of a leadership role in addressing elder abuse, in particular by assisting APS to deliver more effective and efficient services to victims. It also led to the March 2, 2011 Senate Special Committee on Aging, at which Mickey Rooney testified about his own financial exploitation by his stepsons. Mr. Rooney’s courage and eloquence in describing his personal ordeal created, at least temporarily, a much higher public awareness of elder abuse. NAPSA testified at the same hearing. 
  • Is working with the GAO again on their current examination of elder financial exploitation.

State APS Programs: Identified Needs and Policies 

To lay the groundwork for implementation of the EJA once funds are appropriated, NAPSA worked with Appleseed’s Life Long Justice initiative, spearheaded by Marie-Therese Connolly, in surveying APS administrators across the country to ascertain their priorities for utilizing new federal monies. The findings were:

  • Most APS programs report severe staff and funding shortages;
  • The majority of programs need funding, staff, training, resources for data collection, more collaboration, research, and technical assistance;
  • APS wants and needs assistance from HHS (the types of assistance cited could be provided by a robust resource center);
  • Frequently cited challenges include financial exploitation, guardianship issues, inconsistent laws, and rare justice system action.

The full survey results can be found here: 

  • Through the National Adult Protective Services Resources Center (NAPSRC), NAPSA conducted a comprehensive survey of all state APS administrators which is anticipated to provide critical information about APS budgets, staffing levels, reports of abuse, data collection systems, multi-disciplinary efforts and regional training programs. This report will be extremely useful in assisting with the implementation of the Elder Justice Act. NAPSA anticipates the release of this publication for the Fall of 2012.

NAPSA also proposed that the Elder Justice Coalition hold a multi-disciplinary meeting on implementation of the one EJA provision which did not require an appropriation, which requires long-term care facilities to report suspected crimes occurring on their premises to law enforcement. The meeting will include representatives from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the long-term care industry, aging advocates and law enforcement to discuss the best methods to effectively implement this provision.

To learn about state APS laws, please see the American Bar Association’s ‘Commission on Law and Aging’ web page focused upon: Resources and Research.