What is the Elder Justice Coordinating Council?
The Elder Justice Act of 2009, as part of the Affordable Care Act, establishes the Elder Justice Coordinating Council to coordinate activities related to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation across the federal government. The Elder Justice Coordinating Council is directed by the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary serves as the Chair of the Council. Former Secretary Sebelius assigned responsibility for implementing the Coordinating Council to the Administration on Aging (AoA) within ACL. AoA has long been engaged in efforts to protect older individuals from elder abuse including financial exploitation, physical abuse, neglect, psychological abuse, and sexual abuse. Through the Older Americans Act, AoA endeavors preserve the rights of older people and protect those who may not be able to protect themselves.
The Elder Justice Act also names the Attorney General (AG) of the U.S. as a permanent member of the Council. In addition to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the AG, the statute provides for inclusion as Council members the heads of each federal department, agency, or governmental entity identified as administering programs related to abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.
- The Problem of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation are significant and under-recognized public health and human rights issues. Research has demonstrated that it has significant consequences for the health, well-being, and independence of our seniors. Available data suggests that each year at least 10 percent of (or five million) older adults are subjected to abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation (Beach SR, Schulz R, Castle NG, Rosen J; Financial Exploitation and Psychological Mistreatment Among Older Adults: Differences Between African Americans and Non-African Americans in a Population-Based Survey; Gerontologist 2010). Further, only 1 in approximately 25 cases is ever reported to social service agencies (Lifespan of Greater Rochester, Inc., Weill Cornell Medical Center of Cornell University & New York City Department for the Aging; (2011) Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study; New York; Author). The problem is exacerbated by a lack of standardized practice, public awareness, and public policy guidelines at the national level.
- How Will the Elder Justice Coordinating Council Operate?
The Elder Justice Coordinating Council is a federal entity charged with identifying and proposing solutions to the problems surrounding elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. The Council is a permanent group, expected to meet twice a year, with the goal of better coordinating the federal response to the elder abuse problem. The Coordinating Council will receive continuous input and support from an Elder Justice Interagency Working Group, a group of federal employees in Cabinet-level departments and federal agencies with expertise in the field of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.
- Elder Justice Coordinating Council Meetings
- Elder Justice Coordinating Council Products
Eight Recommendations from the Elder Justice Coordinating Council for Increased Federal Involvement in Addressing Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation (PDF, 107KB)
The Elder Justice Coordinating Council met on November 5, 2013, in executive session to discuss and further refine the proposals. The Council members and/or their representatives developed eight recommendations over the course of its meetings in response to calls stakeholders, administrators, researchers, the National Academy of Science, and the Government Accountability Office for increased leadership in combating elder abuse. The eight recommendations represent a focused, yet well-balanced, approached for establishing greater federal leadership in the area of elder justice and for improving the federal response to elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. The Council agreed to a final set of eight recommendations that were adopted by the Council at the May 2014 meeting.
Elder Justice Coordinating Council 2014 Report to Congress (PDF, 1.89MB)
On June 22, 2015, HHS submitted the Elder Justice Coordinating Council 2012-2014 report to Congress, as required by Title XX of the Social Security Act, Subtitle B, the Elder Justice Act of 2009. Every two years, the Council is required to submit a report to Congress on the accomplishments and activities of the Council and making recommendations for action as the Council deems appropriate. The report provides a summary of activities and accomplishments of the Council and member agencies and written statements and white papers from experts, stakeholders, and the public on those areas they perceive as needing federal involvement to address gaps and barriers.