Vermont has made big progress in clearing up a backlog of investigations into reports of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of the elderly and other vulnerable adults, according to both critics and defenders of the state’s Adult Protective Services system.
But there’s concern among some lawmakers and advocates that the division of the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living may be clearing the backlog, in part, by being too selective in taking new cases.
And the department’s commissioner acknowledged in an interview and in testimony to the House Human Services Committee that there are big gaps in the data used by lawmakers trying to measure the division’s performance.
The House Human Services Committee heard testimony Thursday that APS failed to intervene in a Bennington County case of an 89-year-old woman whose daughter was threatening to kill her.
Sandy Conrad, executive director of the Southwestern Vermont Area Agency on Aging, said repeated calls from her office to APS beginning at 1:13 p.m. on a Friday in November drew no response until the following Monday. After a cursory review, APS sent a letter to Conrad’s agency saying, “The available evidence indicated that abuse, neglect or exploitation did not occur,” she told the committee.
Despite appeals to more senior APS staff, there’s been “nothing to date that changes this decision,” Conrad said. “And that perpetrator still lives in that household and is still a threat to that situation.”
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Data Gaps Hamper Elderly-Abuse Review in VT