In 2011, a beloved actor who spent 80 years telling others' stories shared a heartbreaking tale from his own life.
"I felt trapped, scared, used and frustrated," Mickey Rooney told a hearing room full of members of Congress, with cameras rolling. He described abuse and financial exploitation committed by his own family members and had a powerful message for other older adults experiencing abuse: "You're not alone … and you have nothing—nothing, ladies and gentlemen—to be ashamed of."
Hours before Rooney's testimony, the Government Accountability Office released a groundbreaking report highlighting the devastating impact of elder abuse and calling for a greater federal role in elder justice efforts. That report and Rooney's courageous testimony brought national attention to the fight against elder abuse.
The Administration for Community Living now marks a milestone in the fight against abuse of older adults and people with disabilities as it awards the first-ever federal grants specifically designated to improve states' Adult Protective Services (APS) systems.
"The abuse of elders and people with disabilities is a moral outrage that our country simply cannot ignore," said ACL Administrator Kathy Greenlee. "State and local Adult Protective Services offices play a critical role in addressing this abuse. The grants we announce today are a much-needed next step in supporting victims of abuse by bolstering state and local efforts."
These grants, which total up to $2.8 million for up to two years, are being awarded to Alabama, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.
States will use these funds to:
collaborate more closely with social, behavioral health, medical, and legal services agencies,
collect data on outcomes,
develop innovative tools that assess risk and safety, and
form multidisciplinary teams to better support those served by APS.
ACL also is awarding a contract of up to nearly $850,000 to Walter R. McDonald & Associates, Inc. to provide support to grant recipients and to manage ACL's National Adult Protective Services Resource Center. Formed in 2011, the resource center compiles and disseminates best practices and provides targeted technical assistance to APS programs across the country.
APS programs are run by state and local government across the country. The programs support older adults and adults with disabilities facing abuse, neglect, self-neglect or financial exploitation. APS staff investigate reports of adult maltreatment, and provide support and case-management, connecting people who have suffered abuse to the providers of services they need, which often includes medical, social services, economic, legal, housing, law enforcement, and other protective, emergency, or support services.
- ACL's Role in Reducing Abuse
ACL, and the organizations brought together to form it in 2012, have long been working to end the abuse of older adults and people with disabilities. Since 1972 ACL programs have included the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, the Protection of Vulnerable Adults program, and the National Center on Elder Abuse.
Since 2012, ACL, along with the Department of Justice, has played a leading role in coordinating elder justice efforts across the federal government through the Elder Justice Coordinating Council. In 2014, ACL created the Office of Elder Justice and Adult Protective Services, providing the first federal home for APS.
ACL is also designing and testing the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System, a voluntary national reporting system to collect data on the practices and policies of state APS agencies as well as the outcomes of investigations into the maltreatment of older adults and adults with disabilities. This system is expected to start receiving its first data submissions from states in late 2016.
In July, as the White House Conference on Aging focused national attention on elder justice, ACL released and began soliciting comments on Draft Voluntary Consensus Guidelines for State APS Systems. Comments on the Guidelines are being accepted until October 30, 2015.
October marks the 40th year of ACL's Protection and Advocacy for Developmental Disabilities program, which advocates for individuals with developmental disabilities facing abuse and neglect. ACL has recently become home to a program providing these services to individuals living with traumatic brain injuries.
The Administration for Community living was created based on a commitment to one fundamental principle—that people with disabilities and older adults should be able to live where they choose, with the people they choose, and fully participate in their communities. A division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ACL works with other federal agencies, states, tribes, academic and research institutions, and local community networks to ensure access to needed community services, individualized supports, and other forms of assistance that promote self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion in all facets of community life.