What is Adult Protective Services?

Adult Protective Services (APS) is a social services program provided by state and/or local governments nationwide serving older adults and adults with disabilities who are in need of assistance. APS workers investigate cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation, working closely with a wide variety of allied professionals such as physicians, nurses, paramedics, firefighters and law enforcement officers.

Every state has their own distinct APS system and programs vary from state to state in respect to populations served, services provided and scope of the program.

How APS Helps

Most seniors and adults with disabilities live independently without assistance, however, some face abuse or neglect by others and need trained professionals to advocate on their behalf. Others may simply be struggling with routine activities and benefit from in-home support services to maintain their health and independence. APS helps by assessing each individual’s unique needs, then developing a service plan to maintain his/her safety, health and independence.

What Happens When a Report is Made?

  1. A concerned citizen contacts his/her local APS office to report concerns about the welfare of a senior or adult with disabilities.
  2. The details provided in the report will be screened by a trained professional to evaluate if it meets the statutory requirements for APS services in the state and/or municipality receiving the report. Here is more information about what may constitute abuse, neglect or exploitation.
  3. If the situation meets criteria for abuse, neglect or exploitation, an APS worker will initiate face-to-face contact with the adult needing assistance.
  4. The APS worker will assess the adult’s safety, need for assistance, and determine what services, if any, would be beneficial to maintain his/her well-being and independence. Learn more about the services APS workers offer here.
  5. While APS workers help thousands of vulnerable adults every day, individuals always have the right to decline services. Find out what makes APS unique here.

What APS Reporters Need to Know – Info Sheet

Please click here to view and download the information sheet titled “What APS Reporters Need to Know”. This document is intended to provide an overview of APS’s role.

APS program administrators can utilize the PDF above as a hand out or can download the template version here in order to incorporate specific state policies and procedures and/or to add instructions on how to report in a specific state. APS programs can also post this flyer on their websites as a resource for community partners.

Mandatory Reporting to APS

In most states in the US, certain individuals are required by law to report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable adults to adult protective services. This is referred to as “mandatory reporting.” Some states only require certain professionals to report their concerns. Other states require all citizens to report their concerns.

For more information about each state’s mandatory reporting law, you may review the Nationwide Survey of Mandatory Reporting Requirements for Elderly and/or Vulnerable Persons.