Newsletter Banner Adult Services E-Newsletter

Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor
Sheila J. Poole, Acting Commissioner
January 2016
Volume 2, Number 2

A Message From the Executive Office




The 22nd Annual New York State Adult Abuse Training Institute is a Record-Breaker!

By Sheila Poole, Acting Commissioner





U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand provides Video Welcome

Jennifer Throwe, representative of U.S. Administration for Community Living, discussing Increasing federal involvement in Adult Protective Services.

Keynote Speaker, Wendy Lustbader, MSW, presents on “Working with Clients Who Resist Services"

Workshop Panel on “The Impact of Health   Care Changes on Adult Protective Service”   L-R: David Hunt (Schoharie), Patty Willsey (Albany), John Fella (Rockland), Irene Kurlander and Tim Murphy (Orange), Mike Cahill (OCFS Bureau of Adult Services) , and Carmen Hlosta (Chautauqua)

Record numbers of people made the 2015 New York State Adult Abuse Training Institute a success in November. Eighty six took in the full-day Article 81 Guardianship course taught by Debra Sacks, Esq. on the 16th.  413 registered for the formal conference on the 17th and 18th.   The theme for this year’s conference was The Changing Landscape of Service Provision for Vulnerable Adults.

I was pleased to welcome such an enthusiastic crowd of people and it was truly an honor to introduce a surprise video welcome from United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Jennifer Throwe, a representative of the U.S. Administration on Community Living, provided an overview of the increasing federal focus in the field of Adult Protective Services and other aspects of adult services. Jennifer congratulated New York for being a national leader in the field.

Our Keynote speaker, Wendy Lustbader, MSW, gave a well-received presentation, at times humorous and sometimes touching, telling stories about serving her clients and pointing out the  differences front-line caseworkers can make in the lives of vulnerable adults who resist services.

Several workshops illustrated various aspects of the conference theme and there was a variety of sessions, including ones about adult guardianship and alternatives to guardianship. Participants gave positive feedback on the quality of the workshops and the collegial atmosphere.

Way to go, Adult Services!

Plenary Session Article 81 Guardianship Issues
L-R: Karen Nicolson (Legal Services Western, NY) Hon. David Guy (Broome Co. Surrogate Judge), Joseph Rosenburg (CUNY Law School Dean and Professor), Deborah Holt-Knight (Acting Deputy Commissioner NYC HRA APS), Jean Callahan
(Director, Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging)

Richard Machemer, Professor
of Biology and Gerontology, St. John
Fisher’s College, presenting on
“Physiology of Aging: What’s Normal,
What’s Not.”


From the Director
2015 - What a Year!
By Alan Lawitz, Director, Bureau of Adult Services


2015 was a rewarding year for us in the field of Adult Services in New York State.  Here are some highlights:




  • Preliminary data from the New York State Cost of Financial Exploitation Study was presented by Acting OCFS Commissioner Shelia Poole during two “Capital for a Day” sessions. Lisl Maloney of the OCFS Bureau of Adult Services presented the data during the National Adult Protective Services Association Conference. OCFS is nearing issuance of the Final Report.
  • OCFS Bureau of Adult Services joined with the Department of Financial Services and the Office for the Aging in a series of multidisciplinary presentations for financial professionals in the recognition, prevention and reporting of financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. (See article below)
  •  OCFS  Bureau of Adult Services  worked with the Division of Criminal Justice Services to produce “Adult Protective Services and Law Enforcement,” a new online training course promoting collaboration between APS and law enforcement in the investigation of  abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.  This training was issued on May 29. DCJS says 542  persons have taken the training to date.
  •  OCFS Bureau of Adult Services  developed and presented  webinars along with local APS, focusing on  “What Constitutes Success in an APS Financial Exploitation Case” (September 17),  and “Serving Transitioning Youth: Effective Collaboration Practices for APS and Foster Care Caseworkers”   (October 28, 2015 – see article on this webinar below).   A webinar on effective certification practices for Family Type Home for Adults is in the works for 2016.


  • On September 28,  OCFS Bureau of Adult Services was awarded a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Administration for Community Living  This is  the first time the federal government  issued a grant opportunity specifically to state agencies that oversee APS. Under the grant OCFS will:

(a) Develop new tools to assist APS in the collection, organization and review of financial documents as part of an APS financial exploitation investigation;

(b) Provide APS with access to a forensic accountant or financial fraud expert to assist in the analysis of complex financial exploitation cases for use in potential criminal and/or civil cases or to otherwise document financial exploitation.

These two program enhancements will be piloted in Onondaga and Queens Counties.

We will also enhance the APS case recording and reporting systems to incorporate new reportable data fields to capture the costs of financial exploitation, key characteristics of victims, perpetrators, and case outcomes, as well as to conform our systems to the National Adult Maltreatment System, the new federal data system for APS.

What a year! I am looking forward to the rest of 2016.



Teamwork Between Adult Services and Foster Care: Webinar on Transitioning Youth/Young Adults

By Christine Coons, Adult Services Specialist, OCFS Bureau of Adult Services

On October 28, 2015, the OCFS Bureau of Adult Services hosted a webinar entitled:  Serving Transitioning Youth:  Effective Collaboration Strategies for APS and Foster Care Caseworkers.  This 90-minute program was produced in response to the rising number of youth transitioning out of foster care who still need  protective services.  Representatives from Albany, Columbia, and Orange County presented the creative strategies they used in their districts – work that  resulted in effective collaboration between APS and foster care caseworkers, and better service provided  to their clients. OCFS is pleased to have this opportunity to highlight some best practices used by local services districts.   We encourage everyone to continue working together to reach the common goal:  Positive outcomes for transitioning vulnerable youth/young adults.  This webinar was recorded and posted to HSLC.

Pictured: (seated) Irene Kurlander, Deputy Commissioner Orange County Dept. of Social Services; Nicole Menting, senior caseworker Columbia County Prevention Unit; Millie Sweatt, senior caseworker, Columbia County Adult Protective Services; Patty Smith-Willsey, Director, Albany County Adult Protective Services; (standing) Alan Lawitz, Director, NYS OCFS Bureau of Adult Services; Chris Coons, Bureau of Adult Services; Mike Cozzens, Training Program Coordinator for Adolescent Services Network, Professional Development Program

Referral from Financial Institution to Ontario APS Results in Multidisciplinary Investigation, Successful Prosecution

By Christine Coons, Adult Services Specialist, NYS OCFS Bureau of Adult Services and Alan Lawitz, Director,  NYS OCFS Bureau of Adult Services.


The following is one of the cases submitted for inclusion in the New York State Cost of Financial Exploitation Study.


A bank made a referral to APS regarding a woman in her eighties. It was concerned about large withdrawals being made by her daughter, to whom she had granted  power of attorney. The client is homebound, requiring the paid services of round the clock aides. Her daughter, unemployed and an alcoholic, had taken over $160,000 from her mother’s accounts,  opened  credit cards in her mother’s name (from which she took cash advances), and  took out a reverse mortgage on her mother’s home. Her mother’s funds were within a few months of being completely depleted.


APS sent a “15 day letter” to the daughter demanding an accounting of her mother’s funds. The bank provided to APS copies of the client’s financial records. When the daughter responded to the APS, there were glaring discrepancies and no records of the large cash withdrawals.


APS contacted the county sheriff, who began a criminal investigation. APS also referred the  case  to the Ontario County Enhanced Multidisciplinary Team (E-MDT).  The E-MDT’s forensic accountant reviewed financial records. . It was determined the daughter had provided falsified banking records and over $200,000 of her mother’s funds were unaccounted for.


The client was moved to a nursing home because the financial exploitation left her impoverished – she could no longer afford private care at home. She had to apply to Medicaid and now receives public funding for the cost of her nursing home care – another result of the financial  exploitation.


The daughter was prosecuted for violation of her fiduciary duty as agent under the power of attorney. She was sentenced to 2 to 6 years in state prison and was ordered to pay full restitution. 


This is a great example of successful collaboration between the people at the financial institution, who referred the case to APS and  cooperated with requests for records, Ontario County APS, which  persevered under difficult circumstances and  collaborated with  fellow members of the Ontario County E-MDT and its forensic accountant, the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office which  began  a criminal investigation, and the Ontario County DA’s Office, which  moved forward with a successful prosecution. It took a team to address the many issues raised by this egregious crime.  Congratulations!

DFS Joins OCFS and Local Partners in New Phase in Trainings of Financial Professionals

For the first time, the state regulator of New York State-chartered financial institutions has partnered with the OCFS Bureau of Adult Services and local APS, law enforcement and nonprofit providers of services in a series of presentations to representatives of banks, credit unions and others in the financial community about how to recognize, prevent and report financial exploitation of vulnerable adults.

In February 2015, members of the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) worked with OCFS in issuing written  guidance  to New York financial institutions, urging them to report  suspected financial exploitation and other abuse to APS and to other appropriate authorities, and requesting they cooperate  with APS requests for customer transaction information used to help  APS conduct  investigations.

These joint presentations were made in October and November in Canandaigua, New York City and Loudonville (near Albany). OCFS had conducted several previous training sessions for financial professionals, but the involvement of DFS added an important new element to encourage reporting to and cooperation with APS and other investigating authorities.

Included in the presentation: The definition of financial exploitation; characteristics of victims and perpetrators;  the respective roles of DFS, APS, law enforcement and local community resources; red flags to assist in recognizing financial exploitation; what financial institutions can do to prevent  exploitation; federal and state laws that authorize the financial institutions to lawfully share customer transaction information with APS; civil immunity for good faith reporting to APS; APS investigative tools; and best practices that financial institutions can use to prevent and report exploitation.

Seated. L-R: Joy Feigenbaum, Executive Deputy Superintendent, NYS DFS; Annette Esposito, Program Services Coordinator, Equinox; Patty Willsey, Director of Adult Services, Albany Co. DSS; standing, L-R: Jessica Blain-Lewis, ADA, Albany Co DA; Alan Lawitz, Director, Bureau of Adult Services, NYS OCFS; at Siena College, Loudonville, 11/5/15

Taking a Stand Against Abuse: 2015 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) Events

We want to share some photos of public events held to increase awareness of elder abuse and of the role of APS and its partners in protecting vulnerable adults.  OCFS sponsored events in its home office and a shopping mall, with several state and local agencies, service providers and members of the public in attendance.  Many local districts and APS units held a variety of events across the state.  You’ll find more photos at the OCFS Flickr page


Lisl Maloney (OCFS Bureau of Adult Services) and Acting Commissioner Sheila Poole, at OCFS Home Office Event, with Governor’s Proclamation of 6/15/15 as Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Cattaraugus Co. APS Caseworkers Katie Rogers (holding poster) and Amy Wisniewski (to Amy’s left) gave presentation at the Randolph Senior Nutrition site.

Table for Steuben Co. APS Awareness Event

Matt Jones, Colleen Ryan, Kris von Hagn
Judy Jenkins, Heather Harwood, Collen
Carson, Ellen French, Chalmers Wolcott,
Bonnie Lowery, Brenden Smalt, and
Kathy Ingham, R.N

St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police serving dessert at a community forum and luncheon
for seniors sponsored by APS.

Bronx APS Caseworker Kendra Caldwell and Supervisor Cesar Parra at collaborative outreach event with officers of the NYPD’s 50th Precinct.