Abuse

The negligent or willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or cruel punishment with resulting physical or emotional harm or pain by a caretaker, family member, or other individual with whom the alleged victim has an ongoing relationship.

Adult

A person 18 or older or an emancipated minor.

Allegation

An assertion that an alleged victim is in a state of or at risk of harm due to abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.

Alleged Perpetrator

A person who is reported to be responsible for the abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of an alleged victim.

Alleged Victim

A person age 65 or older or an adult with a disability who has been reported to Adult Protective Services to be in a state of or at risk of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.

APS

Adult Protective Services, a division of DFPS.

APS In-Home

The term used to refer to investigations and service delivery related to abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of alleged victims who generally live in non-institutional settings, such as private homes, small foster homes, and legally unlicensed room and board facilities. APS In-Home caseworkers investigate financial exploitation in licensed facilities when the alleged perpetrator is not affiliated with the institution and has an ongoing relationship with the alleged victim. In previous years, Adult Protective Services In-Home cases have been referred to as “community” cases. To avoid confusion with Facility investigations in community centers, the title “community” is no longer used when referring to the APS In-Home program area.
Capacity to Consent to Protective Services
Having the mental and physical ability to understand the services offered and to accept or reject those services, knowing the consequences of the decision.

Caretaker

A guardian, representative payee, or other person who by act, words, or course of conduct has acted so as to cause a reasonable person to conclude that he has accepted the responsibility for protection, food, shelter, or care for an alleged victim. This excludes paid caretakers as defined in 40 TAC §705.1001(8).

Client

An alleged victim who has been determined in a validated finding to be in need of protective services. The alleged victim does not have to meet financial eligibility requirements.

Confidentiality

Client records are not open to public inspection.

Court-Authorized Entry

To carry out an investigation of reported abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation, the court may authorize the department to enter the premises of an alleged victim.

Designated Perpetrator

An alleged perpetrator who has been determined in a validated finding to have abused, neglected or financially exploited a designated victim.

Designated Victim

An alleged victim with a valid abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation finding.

Developmental Disability

A severe, chronic disability of an individual that:

  • results from an intellectual and/or physical impairment;
  • begins before age 22;
  • is likely to be life-long;
  • results in major limitations in three or more areas of everyday functioning (self-care, receptive and expressive language, learning, mobility, self-direction, capacity for independent living, and economic self-sufficiency); and
  • reflects the individual’s need for special services that are individually planned and coordinated.

Disabled Person

A person with a mental, physical, or developmental disability that substantially impairs the person’s ability to provide adequately for the person’s care or protection and who is 18 years of age or older (or under 18 years of age and who has had the disabilities of minority removed).

Emancipated Minor

A person under 18 years of age who has the power and capacity of an adult. This includes a minor who has had the disabilities of minority removed by a court of law or a minor who, with or without parental consent, has been married. (Marriage includes common-law marriage).

Emotional or Verbal Abuse

When an alleged perpetrator is

  • a caretaker, family member, or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with the alleged victim - any act or use of verbal or other communication to threaten violence that makes a reasonable person fearful of imminent physical injury.
  • a paid caretaker - any act or communication that is used to curse, vilify, humiliate, degrade, or threaten and that results in emotional harm; or is of such a serious nature that a reasonable person would consider it emotionally harmful.

False Reports

A person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally reports information that the person knows is false or lacks factual foundation. Such an offense is a Class A misdemeanor.

Financial Exploitation

When an alleged perpetrator is a caretaker or paid caretaker, family member, or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with the alleged victim, financial exploitation is defined as the illegal or improper act or process of an alleged perpetrator using, or attempting to use, the resources of the alleged victim, including the alleged victim’s Social Security number or other identifying information for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain; and without the informed consent of the alleged victim.
There is no informed consent when the consent is:

  • not voluntary;
  • induced by deception or coercion; or
  • given by an alleged victim who the alleged perpetrator knows or should have known to be unable to make informed and rational decisions because of diminished capacity or mental disease or defect.

When the alleged perpetrator is a caretaker, family member, or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with the alleged victim, financial exploitation does not include Theft in Texas Penal Code, Chapter 31 (theft offenses). When the alleged perpetrator is a paid caretaker, financial exploitation includes, but is not limited to, Theft in Texas Penal Code, Chapter 31 (theft offenses).

Immunity

A person filing a report, participating in an investigation, testifying, or participating in any judicial proceeding arising from a petition, report, or investigation is immune from civil or criminal liability. A person, including an authorized department volunteer, medical personnel, or law enforcement officer, who participates in an investigation or the provision of services is also immune as long as the person is acting in good faith.

Incapacitated Person

An adult individual who, because of a physical or mental condition is substantially unable to provide food, clothing, or shelter for himself or herself, to care for the individual’s own physical health, or to manage the individual’s own financial affairs; a missing person; or a person who must have a guardian appointed to receive funds due the person from any governmental source. (A minor is also a legally incapacitated person.)

Incidence of Maltreatment

Ratio of the number of validated APS In-Home cases in a geographic area to the total population in that area of persons who are age 65 or older and persons who have disabilities.

Information Management Protecting Adults and Children in Texas (IMPACT)

The browser-based software application by which Adult Protective Services (APS) and Child Protective Services (CPS) staff document cases.

Intake Priorities for In-Home Investigations

In establishing priorities, the department defines the time frames for beginning an investigation and for conducting a face-to-face interview with the alleged victim. Adult Protective Services’ priorities are based on the degree of severity and immediacy of the alleged harm to the individual.

Priority I

APS reports that allege the victim is in a state of serious harm or is in danger of death from abuse or neglect. The caseworker must attempt a face-to-face visit with the alleged victim within 24 hours of the department’s receipt of a Priority I report, which may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Serious injuries.  Examples: spinal injury, fractured ribs puncturing lung, head injury, severe burns, broken hip, internal injuries.
  • Lack of life-sustaining medication.
  • Serious threats by caretaker to harm or kill alleged victim.
  • Lack of basic physical necessities severe enough to result in freezing, starvation, or dehydration.
  • Need for immediate medical attention to treat conditions that could result in irreversible physical harm. Examples: unconsciousness, acute pain, severe respiratory distress, gangrene, hemorrhaging, severe malnutrition, advanced bedsores.
  • Sexual abuse when there is danger of repeated abuse.
  • No caretaker is available; the alleged victim is unable to perform critical personal care activities, and his or her needs cannot be met by other community resources.
  • Living conditions that pose a serious health or safety hazard. Examples: fecal contamination, dead animals, major structural damage to residence.

Priority II

APS reports that allege the victim is abused, neglected, or financially exploited and as a result is at risk of serious harm. The caseworker must attempt a face-to-face visit with the alleged victim within three calendar days of the department’s receipt of a Priority II report. Priority II reports may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Critical need for mental health or medical treatment. Examples: overly aggressive behavior, pressure spots, small bedsores or other small but open wounds, malnutrition, sprains, or disease or illness that is acute but not life-threatening.
  • Falling or being pushed, hit, or scratched, which is alleged to have resulted in bruises, other injuries, or severe mental anguish.
  • Inadequate attention to physical needs. Examples: insufficient food or medicine, but not life-threatening.
  • Illegal or improper use of alleged victim’s income or resources to the degree that the alleged victim is unable to meet basic needs or is threatened with substantial loss of income or resources.
  • Unreasonable confinement.
  • Sexual abuse of the alleged victim by the caretaker, but clearly no immediate danger of repeated abuse.
  • Threats of physical violence or harm to the alleged victim.
  • Imminent eviction from a nursing home because the alleged victim’s representative failed to use the alleged victim’s income to pay for care.
  • Threat of losing the caretaker’s services when the alleged victim is dependent on the caretaker for basic needs.

Priority III

Consists of all other APS reports that allege the victim is in a state of abuse or neglect. The caseworker must attempt a face-to-face visit with the alleged victim within seven calendar days of the department’s receipt of a Priority III report. Priority III reports may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Verbal or emotional abuse. Examples: harassment, cursing, degrading remarks, intimidation.
  • Marginal care or threatened withdrawal of care by caretaker when the alleged victim needs some assistance with his or her basic activities of daily living.
  • Falling or being pushed, hit, or scratched when such actions are not reported to result in bruises, other
  • injuries, or severe mental anguish.
  • Need for mental health or medical treatment that is not urgent. Examples: mild depression, delusional thinking that is not dangerous to the alleged victim or others, poor nutrition, or disease or illness that is not acute.

Priority IV

 

APS reports that allege financial exploitation when there is no danger of imminent impoverishment or deprivation of basic needs. The caseworker must attempt a face-to-face visit with the alleged victim within 14 calendar days from the date the department receives a Priority IV report. Priority IV reports may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Lack of appropriate contribution to food and shelter expenses by household members.
  • Misuse of a nursing home resident’s personal needs allowance by someone who is not affiliated with the nursing home. (If the alleged perpetrator is an employee of the nursing home, the report is referred to the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services.)
  • Improper use of income or resources but the alleged victim’s needs are still met.

Intensive Case Services

Intensive Case Services are provided when the client is determined to be at moderate to high risk of recidivism and is in need of intensive case services to remedy the root cause of the abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. The caseworker determines the client's risk level after completing the Risk of Recidivism Assessment (RORA) at the end of a validated In-Home investigation.

Invalid

Based on the standard of preponderance of the evidence, it is more likely than not that the abuse, neglect or financial exploitation did not occur.

Least Restrictive Alternative

An action or service that protects a client while allowing personal autonomy to the fullest degree possible.

Maintenance Services

Maintenance services are provided to the client who is determined to be at low or moderate risk of recidivism, does not require Intensive Case Services, and the case may need to remain open while awaiting services to be finalized. The caseworker determines the client's risk level after completing the Risk of Recidivism Assessment (RORA) at the end of a validated In-Home investigation. 

Neglect

When an alleged perpetrator is:

  • the alleged victim - the failure of one’s self to provide the protection, food, shelter, or care necessary to avoid emotional harm or physical injury.
  • the caretaker or paid caretaker -the failure to provide the protection, food, shelter, or care necessary to avoid emotional harm or physical injury; or a negligent act or omission that caused or may have caused emotional harm, physical injury, or death.

Objection to Medical Treatment

Medical treatment may not be ordered for clients who object to treatment on religious grounds.

Physical Abuse

When an alleged perpetrator is:

  • a caretaker, family member, or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with the alleged victim - any knowing, reckless, or intentional act or failure to act, including unreasonable confinement, corporal punishment, inappropriate or excessive force, or intimidation, which caused physical injury, death, or emotional harm.
  • a paid caretaker - any knowing, reckless, or intentional act or failure to act, including unreasonable confinement, corporal punishment, inappropriate or excessive force, or intimidation, which caused or may have caused physical injury, death, or emotional harm.

Protective Services

The services furnished by the department or by a protective services agency to a designated victim or to a relative or caretaker of that person if the department determines the services are necessary to prevent that person from returning to a state of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. These services may include social casework, case management, and arranging for psychiatric and health evaluation, home care, day care, social services, health care, respite services, and other services consistent with chapter 48 of the Human Resources Code. Protective services are provided in In-Home cases and may be provided to recipients of HCS-W services.  Protective services are provided or arranged by an APS specialist in APS In-Home cases with validated allegations, including during the Investigation stage to address short-term needs; the Maintenance stage to stabilize a low-risk situation; or the Intensive Case Services stage to address the more complex root causes of a client’s abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.

Purchased Client Services (PCS)

Purchased client services provided in accordance with §48.002(5) of the Human Resources Code, includes, but is not limited to, emergency shelter, medical and psychiatric assessments, In-Home care, residential care, heavy housecleaning, minor home repairs, money management, transportation, emergency food, medication, and other supplies. Specific purchased client services are only provided if those specific services are not available through other state and local resources. A person who is age 65 or older or an adult with disabilities is eligible to receive purchased client services from Adult Protective Services in accordance with §48.002(5) and §48.202 of the Human Resources Code when a service plan has been developed by the department under these sections that indicates that purchased client services are needed to remedy abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. All other available resources must be used where feasible before purchased client services are initiated.

Reporter

A person who initiates an unsolicited report to DFPS, alleging the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an APS client.  If more than one person makes an unsolicited report of the same allegation of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of the same APS client, each person is designated as a reporter.

Risk of Recidivism Assessment

The Risk of Recidivism Assessment (RORA) is completed in In-Home investigations with validated allegations.  The RORA provides a consistent set of risk factors used to identify clients who have low, moderate, or high probabilities of self-neglect or abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. The APS specialist uses the RORA to determine whether the case should be closed in Investigation, progressed to Intensive Case Services, or Maintenance services.

Safety Assessment

The Safety Assessment is a tool used by the APS specialist to assess and document the alleged victim’s current safety.  The APS specialist assesses alleged victims’ overall risk of harm and level of safety to determine if immediate interventions are necessary. 

Services in Investigation

When an alleged victim is experiencing abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation, APS may provide protective services during the investigation stage. If the alleged victim is at low or moderate risk of recidivism and the problem was resolved with services provided during the investigation, Maintenance or Intensive Case Services may not be required.

Sexual Abuse

Nonconsensual sexual activity, which may include, but is not limited to, any activity that would be a sexually-oriented offense per Texas Penal Code, Chapter 21 (indecent exposure), Chapter 22 (sexual assault), or Chapter 43 (public indecency) committed by:

  • the alleged victim’s caretaker;
  • a paid caretaker;
  • a family member; or
  • another individual who has an ongoing relationship with the alleged victim.

There is no consent when:

  • the alleged perpetrator knows or should know that the alleged victim is incapable of consenting because of impairment in judgment due to mental or emotional disease or defect;
  • consent is induced by force or threat against any person;
  • the alleged victim is unconscious or physically unable to resist;
  • the alleged perpetrator has intentionally impaired the alleged victim by administering any substance without the person’s knowledge; or
  • consent is coerced due to fear of retribution or hardship, or by exploiting the emotional dependency of the alleged victim on the alleged perpetrator.

SHIELD

SHIELD (Strategies that Help Intervention and Evaluation Leading to Decisions) is the casework practice model implemented by the APS In-Home program on September 1, 2014.  SHIELD includes three assessment tools: Safety Assessment, Risk of Recidivism Assessment, and Strengths and Needs Assessment designed to promote client safety, identify strengths and needs, and reduce current and future abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.

Strengths and Needs Assessment

The Strengths and Needs Assessment (SNA) tool is completed on every APS In-Home case that is progressed to Intensive Case Services.  The SNA is used to systematically identify critical strengths and needs of the client and the client’s primary caretaker (does not include paid caretakers); and inform development of an effective service plan.

Unable to Determine

A preponderance of the available evidence is insufficient to support a finding of Valid or Invalid.

Valid

Based on the standard of preponderance of the evidence, it is more likely than not that the abuse, neglect or financial exploitation occurred.