Vermont’s Adult Protective Services (APS) program is the primary unit of state government responsible for investigating allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation of vulnerable adults under Title 33 of Vermont Statutes. APS is a program within the Division of Licensing and Protection (DLP), with the Assistant Director for Adult Protective Services reporting to the DLP Director. DLP also houses Survey and Certification (S&C). S&C monitors licensed health care facilities for compliance with state and federal regulations, and they conduct their own investigations as a result of complaints and self-reports from the facilities.
Services Delivered by Adult Protective Services
Community Outreach and Education
APS provides training to the staff of community-based providers and other community groups to prevent and reduce the abuse, neglect and exploitation of vulnerable adults and to increase appropriate referrals when maltreatment is a concern. They review applicable laws and policies, such as reporting requirements for mandated reporters, and detail how to make a report when someone suspects a vulnerable adult is at risk.
Intake and Screening
All APS investigative activities began with a report filed with intake staff. Below is a list showing the reporting options and the percentage of reports received for the year with this option:
- Online: 54%
- Telephone: 26%
- Fax: 13%
- Email: 6%
- Walk in: 1%
Within 48 hours of receiving a complete report, APS staff determine if the alleged victim is a vulnerable adult and if the allegations meet the statutory definitions for abuse, neglect, or exploitation. If both criteria are met, an investigator is assigned and an investigation conducted. If these criteria are not clear, an APS Investigator may be sent to perform a field screen to make a determination. APS staff make appropriate referrals to other organizations that could assist the reporter and/or alleged victim, even if an intake is not referred to investigation.
When an investigation is warranted, APS Investigators will interview the reporter, the alleged victim, and any other relevant witnesses, along with reviewing any available documentation. They will also provide the alleged perpetrator with an opportunity to present information. At the conclusion of the investigation, they will make a recommendation for substantiation to the DAIL Commissioner if the evidence indicates there was abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
The investigator will discuss with the alleged victim and/or their legal representative appropriate protective services. Except where protective services are court ordered, the investigator works to implement protective services agreed to by the victim. Victims with decisional capacity can choose to decline all services. Some services typically offered include:
- Referrals to service providers, including case management, guardianship services, mental health and developmental services, law enforcement, and health care.
- Securing change of representative payee.
- Petitioning for removal of a court-appointed guardian.
- Notifying and filing a misuse of funds report with the Social Security Administration.
- Alerting financial institutions of misappropriation of funds.
- Assisting the client to close/change banking or other accounts.
- Intervening in cases of identity theft.
- Petitioning for guardianship.
- Filing for temporary restraining orders and relief from abuse orders.
Adult Abuse Registry
APS is responsible for maintaining and managing the Vermont Adult Abuse Registry, which provides a confidential listing of individuals who have been substantiated for abuse, neglect and/or exploitation of a vulnerable adult. The registry may be accessed by current or prospective employers whose employees or volunteers serve vulnerable adults and/or children. The Adult Abuse Registry receives over 50,000 checks a year. Each check is partially automated but does require the review and action of an APS staff member to complete.