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How APS Works


In most states, APS caseworkers are the first responders to reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults.

Most APS programs serve both older and younger vulnerable adults. In some states, APS is responsible only for cases involving older adults (eligibility may be based on age, incapacity or vulnerability of the adult). A few APS programs serve only younger adults ages 18-59.

For further information on the APS investigation process, please see the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) APS Example Flow Chart and Adult Protective Services Fact Sheet

Report is Made

  • Someone suspects elder or vulnerable adult abuse, exploitation, or neglect.
  • Person calls an abuse hotline or state or local APS office to report the suspicion.
  • If emergency, APS immediately forwards report to police or emergency medical staff.
  • If the report does not meet the APS target population as defined by state law, the caller will be given information and/or referral to an appropriate agency.
  • Report is assigned a priority response time based on the level of victim risk.
  • Report is assigned to APS staff for investigation.


  • APS staff makes contact with victim within state-regulated timeframe, depending on the reported urgency of the situation.
  • Caseworker assesses current victim risk factors.
  • Caseworker assesses victim's capacity to understand current risk and to give informed consent for further investigation and service provision.


  • With the consent of the victim, APS caseworker develops service plan.
  • Services may be provided directly by caseworkers, through arrangements with other community resources, or purchased by APS on a short-term, emergency basis.
  • Victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation may receive short-term services such as emergency shelter, home repair, meals, transportation, help with financial management, home health services, and medical and mental health services.
  • APS caseworker may continue to monitor service provision to assure that victim risk is reduced or eliminated.

If Victim Refuses Service

  • Victims who have the capacity to understand their circumstances have the right to refuse services, regardless of the level of risk.
  • In some states, competent adults have the right to refuse an APS investigation.
  • APS caseworker may refer victim to other resources.
  • Case is closed.
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