APS Policy and Procedures Regarding Clients with Limited English Proficiency and Impaired Sensory or Speaking Skills
The Adult Protective Services (APS) program of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has two major components,
- In-home, or community-based investigations and services, known as "APS," and
- Facility Investigations, or investigations in state facilities and community centers that provide mental health and mental retardation services.
To receive protective services, an individual must be elderly or disabled and be reported to be in a state of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
Federal law requires state programs receiving federal funds to provide appropriate interpreter services to limited English proficient and sensory impaired clients. The APS handbooks for facility investigations (as issued December 15, 1997) and for in-home investigations and services (as revised effective July 1, 1998) contain specific policy and procedures related to serving persons with limited English proficiency (LEP) and impaired sensory or speaking skills. These are as follows.
When conducting investigations of suspected instances of abuse or neglect, the investigator or case worker:
- shall ensure that the investigation not be subject to delays or interference with any actions necessary to protect a person served from harm or risk of harm.
- are required to clearly identify any person served or other principle in a case in need of interpreter services and
- document all reasonable efforts to acquire the service in the client's case record.
When a principle in a case has limited proficiency in English, APS staff make reasonable efforts to provide information and communicate service availability to the client and alleged perpetrator(s) using:
- Bilingual DFPS workers,
- Other qualified translators, such as a speech pathologist with no conflicts of interest,
- Sign language interpreters,
- Pictures or objects and bilingual brochures,
- Communication devices, and
- Forms or other materials printed in the principles preferred language.
Ideally, the interpreter will be a professional trained as an interpreter or an APS investigator, case worker, or supervisor fluent in the clients preferred language.
If the only option is a family member, the investigator or case worker should ensure that this person is not involved in the case.
In investigations regarding persons with LEP served in state facilities and community centers, facility staff are not used as interpreters unless they are unrelated to the case and are qualified to provide the interpreter service.
APS efforts are intended to insure that principles with LEP or with hearing, visual, or speech impairments understand all significant APS actions at each stage of the case, including investigation, service planning, service delivery, judicial proceedings, alternative placement, and emergency client services.
The investigator obtains interpreter services at no cost to the person served. Regional management staff will ensure that their staff develop local resources to provide interpreter services upon request from volunteers. If the service is not available through volunteers, the cost shall be borne by the department.
For additional information regarding LEP services please contact:
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services,
Adult Protective Services Program
P.O. Box 149030, mail code E-561
Austin, Texas 78714-9030