Newsletter Banner Adult Services E-Newsletter

Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor
Sheila J. Poole, Acting Commissioner
September 2014
Volume 1, Number 1

A Message from the Executive Office

Congratulations to all Adult Protective Services (APS) workers for really stepping up this past June with a great range of activities and events to increase awareness of Elder Abuse and of the essential role that APS has in the protection of vulnerable adults.

We are very pleased that Governor Cuomo issued a proclamation declaring June 15, 2014 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in New York.

At OCFS Home Office in Rensselaer there was steady traffic to an informational table with materials about prevention and protection of vulnerable adults, as well as purple candies, ribbons and our “Stop Elder Abuse! Call APS” wristbands.

We also received many great photos of local WEADD events across the state, including those in Columbia, Livingston, Monroe, Nassau, Onondaga  and Washington counties and the St. Regis Mohawk local district. Thanks to you for putting so much energy into these events to help spread the word about the important work that must continue to prevent and address elder and all adult abuse.

I hope you enjoy this new E-newsletter format, including hyperlinks to the OCFS Flickr page and community resources. In upcoming issues, we look forward to your contributions on the fine work being done throughout the state with vulnerable adults.

Sheila J. Poole
Acting Commissioner
New York State Office of Children and Family Services 

New York State Cost of Financial Exploitation:
Preliminary Findings To Be Presented

By Alan J. Lawitz
Director, Bureau of Adult Services
New York State Office of Children & Family Services

At the upcoming New York State Adult Abuse Training Institute (AATI) on Sept. 18, OCFS staff will present data and preliminary findings from our New York State Cost of Financial Exploitation Study. Thirty-one districts and one non-profit elder services provider, Lifespan of Greater Rochester, Inc., participated in this initiative.

The information collected in this study includes:
         - Costs of funds and other property stolen from vulnerable adults through various
            forms of financial exploitation;
         - Costs incurred in providing government benefits and services to such persons 
            as a result of financial exploitation; and, 
         - Staffing and other costs incurred by the districts and other agencies as a result
            of the financial exploitation.

This data has never previously been systematically collected on a statewide basis in New York State. This study will provide us with critical baseline data to inform our understanding of the very real costs of financial exploitation in New York State.

This study, comprised of cost and demographic data will help us better understand the scope and issues of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. It will also help to inform future decisions to be made, on the municipal, county, state and federal levels, about how best to target resources and approaches for preventive and protective interventions.

The numbers presented will be startling and sobering. We will share our preliminary presentation at AATI and will make this presentation available to all districts and our community partners. A draft report will be shared with study participants for review and comment prior to finalization of the study report.

We at OCFS want to say a special thank you to the local social services district commissioners, directors of services, adult services supervisors and their staffs, as well as to Lifespan, for volunteering to participate in this study. It could not have happened without your buy-in, participation and commitment.

Local Districts Showcase World Elder Abuse Day 2014

From Velverly Caldwell and Mary Ann Maher:
Monroe County held an Elder Abuse Awareness Fair. A tree (see photo at right) was topped with "Is This Your Family Tree?" Below, leaves illustrated scenarios of the types of cases that APS encounters on a regular basis: examples of neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and financial exploitation. The display was very creative and effective in helping both the public and other DSS staff understand who APS serves, the complexity of the issues and how common these types of cases are to APS workers.

From Audrey Rapp, APS Supervisor:
Livingston County’s WEAAD events to help raise awareness about elder abuse included WEAAD posters placed in local publications; fundraising for contributions for Meals on Wheels; information table, complete with purple candy; purple table cloths in the agency break rooms with literature and candy;  purple carnations for the Adult Services workers (thanks to their Supervisor);  wearing and distributing the purple “Stop Elder Abuse/Call APS” bracelets and a breakfast meeting with colleagues at the local Office for the Aging (purple/purplish food served: grapes, grape juice, blueberry muffins).

From Marla Light, Program Manager, ACPS:
St. Regis Mohawk Protective Services held an Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 13, 2014. The following ad was placed on the Tribal website: “Have you ever wondered if your Tota/Elder is really all right? Are you concerned about whether they’re being treated well by a caregiver, friends or family members? In honor of Elder/Tota Abuse Awareness Day, the tribe’s Social Services Division will be in Community Building lobby from 9:00 am to noon on Friday, June 13/Ohiari:ha 13, with information and promotional items to help raise awareness about elder abuse. Everyone is encouraged to wear purple on this day in support of stopping elder abuse because our Totas/Elders deserve respect and the best care possible.” There was also a door prize and advertising of the event by the local radio station.

From Tom Burgess, APS Casework Supervisor & Jenny Hicks, Project Coordinator, Abuse in Later Life Grant, Vera House, Inc.:
Onondaga County's APS observed WEAAD by participating in a community event with about 100 seniors and community partners called “Physical and Financial Fitness.” Among the topics covered were:

  •   Powers of Attorney (Onondaga County Department of Law)
  •   Scams (Assistant Attorney General, Syracuse Regional Office) 
  •   Step Up To Stop Falls (PT Services Provider) 
  •   Estate Planning (Private Attorney)
  •   Exercises for Health (Training Coordinator, Onondaga Co. Sheriff’s Office)
  •   Consultations with Pharmacies re: Prescription Medicines

From Jodie Smith, PSA/Home Care Supervisor:
Washington County's WEAAD celebration included a presentation for all DSS staff on Elder Abuse. Candy bars were collected and to our Meals on Wheels drivers to deliver. Elder Abuse presentations were also made at all Senior Sites during June.

Columbia County’s WEAAD events included a plethora of purple candy delights, an informational table, distribution of “Stop Elder Abuse/Call APS” bracelets, and display of the Governor’s Proclamation and Stop Elder Abuse Posters.

For more photos of WEADD and other events, visit the OCFS Flickr page.

Family Type Homes for Adults:
Fire/Safety Update

By Deborah Greenfield, Family Type Home Coordinator, New York State Office of Children & Family Services

The Summer 2010 Adult Services Newsletter featured an article regarding fire safety in Family Type Homes for Adults. This was a response to a fatal fire that had occurred in an OPWDD facility in Wells, NY, and to conditions observed and reported within our own licensed homes.

Sadly, within the last year, the Family Type Home for Adults program has experienced two fires resulting in fatalities: one in Clinton County and the second in Queens. In the first case, three resident/boarders lost their lives. In the second, one resident was hospitalized from smoke inhalation, but two small children visiting the operator were killed. In both cases causes were attributed to children playing with fire.

We ask that you revisit this article with special attention to fire drills, the appropriateness of residents especially in terms of ability to evacuate independently, and that you consider, wherever possible, obtaining input from your local fire departments. The recently created Justice Center for Protection of Vulnerable Persons has also been involved in these investigations as possible abuse and neglect. Where such investigations by the Justice Center or other state agencies (such as the State Police or the Office of Fire Prevention) result in findings or recommendations relating to fire/ safety in Family Type Homes, we will be sharing these findings and recommendations with local districts as available.

We would also like to advise you of the availability of OCFS Fire Safety Representatives in our Regional Offices to provide general training to local districts or operators or to assist you in looking at concerns in specific homes. For example, recently an OCFS Fire Safety Representative accompanied county staff to run an observed fire drill and discuss fire safety procedures. The professional input provided by the OCFS Fire/Safety Representative was very helpful.

If interested in any of these services, please contact me directly at (518) 402-3895 or

Nassau County's Homeless Intervention Team Update

By Sarah Smith, Assistant Director; Patricia Rose, HIT Caseworker; and Karen Garber, Social Services Program Coordinator
Nassau County Department of Social Services

The Homeless Intervention Team (HIT) has become quite successful in its outreach efforts.  Since January 2014, the team has located 88 homeless individuals at Long Island Railroad (LIRR) train stations alone. Two APS caseworkers have been doing bi-monthly searches at LIRR train stations and partnered with Supportive Services for Veterans’ Families, Metropolitan Transit Authority police and the LIRR Branch Line Manager.

In addition to outreach at the train stations, both caseworkers have responded to referrals received from the community as well as co-workers. HIT usually makes joint visits to try to locate homeless individuals and speak with them. The police are requested whenever it is felt the situation may be dangerous. Both caseworkers also make random outreach efforts to areas that are known as homeless hangouts. Additionally, they often re-visit specific people in an effort to obtain their trust and hopefully gain permission to assist them.

Once a person agrees to accept assistance, the caseworkers are available as needed. Often that involves walking them through the temporary assistance process which could include helping fill out and file applications and obtaining supporting documentation. Referral to other agencies is part of the workers’ intervention. As many homeless individuals do not have mailing addresses, the caseworkers make sure to follow their temporary assistance cases to ensure that they are receiving their notices and that they are following program requirements. Assistance with social security and housing applications is also provided. HIT has been successful in placing homeless persons in permanent housing.

The HIT caseworkers also attend monthly meetings of the Homeless Outreach Committee run by the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless. In so doing, they have become very knowledgeable about other outreach organizations that are valuable resources. 

Meet the Central New York APS Supervisors

From L-R, back row: Kathy Salvadore (Oswego), Barry Beck, Tom Burgess (Onondaga), Susanne Bloes (Chenango),Tammy McCall (Cortland), Mike Comprost (Catholic Charities – Broome), Leanne LaRock (Oswego)

From L-R, front row: Dorothy Massinger (Herkimer), Kelly Amidon (Lewis), Emily Lux (Broome), Sharon Cahill (Jefferson), Don Marsh (Tioga)