Statutory References

Federal: Title XX, Social Security Act
State: Human Resources Code, Chapters 40 and 48
Texas Family Code, Title V
Health and Safety Code, Chapter 532 , 591 , 592 , 593, 594 and 595

Major Provisions

  • Mandatory reporting of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of adults who are age 65 or older or adults with disabilities
  • Receipt and investigation of all reports (unless patently false); initiation of investigations within 24 hours of receipt of report
  • Responsibility for referring reports to other state agencies when DFPS is not the appropriate investigating agency
  • Provision or arrangement of services needed to prevent or alleviate abuse, neglect, and/or financial exploitation
  • Enhancing and developing community resources in an effort to increase awareness of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation, and address increasing needs of APS clients
  • Responsibility for referring adult victims of abuse, neglect and/or financial exploitation to the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) for guardianship services when these persons appear to lack the capacity to consent to services, there is no other potential guardian available and guardianship is the least restrictive alternative that will ensure the person's safety and well-being
  • Assessment of factors that may indicate an adult's possible lack of capacity to consent to services and pursuit of a medical or mental health evaluation, if indicated
  • Using the least restrictive alternative in the provision of protective services
  • Authority to seek court orders when necessary to gain access to the individual, to prevent interference with the provision of voluntary protective services, to access records or documents, and to initiate and provide emergency protective services (e.g., a removal), including after-hours and on holidays, without a court order
  • Requirement to notify law enforcement if APS removes a person from their home under a court order and their home will be left unattended
  • Requirement to notify law enforcement if APS suspects that a person has been abused, neglected, or financially exploited in a manner that constitutes a criminal offense
  • Confidentiality of case records
  • Requirement to make referrals to the Employee Misconduct Registry for certain validated perpetrators.

Other Programmatic Information:

Factors Contributing to Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation:

  • Rapidly growing population of older adults
  • Growing number of younger adults with disabilities
  • Alcohol and drug dependency
  • Poverty
  • Lack of affordable housing and high costs of utility bills
  • Inadequate access to health care and costly medications
  • Toxic family relationships
  • Dependence of family or others on the income of older adults and adults with disabilities
  • Violence as a coping mechanism in society
  • Physical and mental stress of caregiving in traditionally non-violent, caring households
  • Denial of benefits, such as SSI and Medicaid, to some immigrants

Challenges:

  • Affordable and safe housing
  • Waiting lists and other limitations in the availability of in-home care and home health care
  • Shortage of resources to serve persons denied long-term care and other benefits
  • Gaps in surrogate decision-making processes for incapacitated persons in hospitals, nursing homes, and community-based settings
  • Inadequate community services for persons with a mental illness, including those discharged from state hospitals
  • Lack of statewide access to preventative or early intervention services, such as long-term case management, for older adults and adults with disabilities who are at risk, but not yet experiencing abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation
  • Hiring and maintaining skilled frontline caseworkers and supervisors
  • Specialized geriatric social work training is not keeping pace with the ever-increasing number of older Americans.