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Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor
Sheila J. Poole, Acting Commissioner
August 2018
Volume 10, Number 2

The Adult Services Newsletter

A Message from the Executive Office: Get a Grip on Elder Abuse! OCFS and APS Active Participants in World Elder Abuse Awareness Events
By acting OCFS Commissioner Sheila Poole

APS observed World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15, 2018, and other June days in many ways, including
 - as panelists and APS tabling as part of a nearly 600-person event held at Mount St Mary College in Newburgh (Orange and Dutchess APS), with similar large events in Onondaga and Erie, among other places;
 - distributing APS brochures and materials (including the new OCFS jar gripper that states the number of the HSCC Adult Services Helpline and “Call APS! 1-844-697-3505 - GET A GRIP ON ELDER ABUSE” and talking with the public at a Farmer’s Market (Chemung APS);
 - coordinating, together with other community groups, the collection and distribution of 2300 Caring Cards to Seniors who receive Meals on Wheels. The artists making cards ranged from local girl scouts, daycare centers, schools, as well as private individuals. We hear that the cards really bring a smile to the recipients’ faces (Erie APS); and
 - wearing bright purple t-shirts saying on the front: June 15- “Don’t Stand for Elder Abuse” World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and on the back: Nassau County Department of Social Services.

OCFS Bureau of Adult Services fanned out through much of the state to join local APS and its community partners in WEAAD events, as presenters, emcees, and as a participant.

We thank APS for its energy and creativity in planning and presenting these vital community outreach events. We include here a few of the many great photos APS has shared with us, and look forward to seeing more on the OCFS website and/or social media.

L-R: from top: Chemung APS workers Logan Luther and Robin Oakes, spreading the word at a farmer's market; A sample of the Caring Cards for seniors coordinated by Erie County APS and its partners; Panel discussion at a WEAAD event at Mt. St. Mary College, Newburgh (L-R: Orange County Sheriff Carl DuBois, Orange County APS Case Supervisor Tim Murphy, Dutchess County Director of Adult Services Patricia Shelton); Nassau County Senior Management and APS proudly wearing eye-catching WEAAD T-Shirts (L-R: Nassau County DSS Commissioner John Imhof, Sarah Smith, Muriel Jeanty-Petiote, Karen Garber, Susan Whalen, Deputy Commissioner Paul Broderick (behind Susan Whalen), Gardenia Watson, Antoinette Witt, Gloria Allen, Yasmine Lee)

Below: APS and Community Partners at St. Regis Mohawk Tribe (SRMT) WEAAD Event. L-R top: Issac McDonald-Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (Canadian Side) EMT, Kristin Post SRMT APS, Lori Michaud SRMT APS, Loralee Lafrance-OFA, Sergeant William Ransom SRMT Police. L-R bottom: Rachael Jacobs SRMT Health Services Outreach, Helen Gray-OFA, April White Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (Canadian side) Home support/home care

 

From the Director: A Summer Miscellany
By Alan J. Lawitz, Director, Bureau of Adult Services
NYS OCFS

Get a Grip on Elder Abuse!
Thanks to our bureau colleague Susan Hollander for researching possible new items to provide to the public to help publicize the toll-free phone number of the Adult Services Helpline. Susan came up with the jar gripper (right) that includes “CALL APS 1-844-697-3505,” and carries the message noted in the headline above. This item has been well received, and it joins the ranks of our wristbands and pens that also publicize the Helpline. Thanks as well to Susan DeRidder, Lisl Maloney and other bureau staff who helped to quickly package and mail out the items so they could get to the local APS units.


Observing Local APS Staff at WEAAD Events

I speak for all my bureau colleagues in praise of the knowledgeable and dedicated APS administrators and staff who participated in WEAAD events in June. It is wonderful to see how APS is working so well with public and private partners in their communities. It is great to see how APS reaches out to older New Yorkers and others at such events to increase awareness of elder abuse. I say again, it is a privilege to work with local APS.

Enjoy summer! And get a grip!
Alan

A Determined Washington County APS Caseworker Brings Justice to Client
by Jodie Smith, PSA/Home Care supervisor, Washington County Aging and Disability Resource Center

The Washington County APS Unit received a referral about suspected financial exploitation of an elderly woman who was blind and disabled, whose family member was stealing her Social Security benefit and thousands of dollars in cash from the safe in her home. There were also allegations that credit cards had been established in her name and that her basic needs were being neglected. The woman was isolated from her famiIy and emotionally abused. 

 

L-R: Jodie Smith, Heather Jett, APS caseworker, and Andrew "Jock" Williamson, Sr., APS caseworker

Caseworker Heather Jett was assigned to this case, and immediately contacted the woman’s bank, which reported many “red flags.” Jett started collecting evidence. Upon the initial home visit, Jett suspected something was wrong. Her relative would interject when Jett asked the woman questions, and try to answer for her. Jett kept up her direct questions to the elderly woman, who reported missing cash and Social Security checks. The elderly woman said she had thought the police were contacted, but that had not yet happened. She said that prior to becoming blind, she was able to manage her own affairs, but now depended on others to provide her care and manage her finances.

Jett learned from police and probation that her family member had a history of drug-related activities. In the meantime, the local police were collecting evidence, including video footage from the banks, local businesses and credit card agencies, all supporting the woman’s story of being financially exploited. The evidence was presented to the DA’s office, orders of protection were issued against her relative, and he and another person were arrested. Both plead guilty to grand larceny and were sentenced to several years in prison. Through the NYS Office of Victim Services, a crime victims fund reimbursed more than $16,000 of the amount stolen from the victim, and the convicted parties were required to pay restitution for the unauthorized use of credit cards and other bank withdrawals.

The APS client is now safe and around other family members. In her first eight days of being away from the perpetrators, she gained eight pounds. As contemplated by the Memorandum of Understanding between Washington County’s Office for the Aging (OFA) and DSS, Jett is cross trained on both DSS and OFA programs and services. During the investigation, Jett could provide continuity of care by completing an OFA Comprehensive Assessment (COMPASS) as well as the APS Assessment. After assessing the woman’s needs, it was determined that she should receive Home Delivered Meals, Caregiver Support Services, services from Northeast Association for the Blind, legal assistance, and in-home Personal Care Assistance Services. The woman was also linked to a domestic violence service provider.

The investigation required a team of professionals to successfully resolve this case, but it was Heather’s determination and drive that made sure everyone received the right information needed to hold the perpetrators accountable, and to assist the woman in obtaining reimbursement.

CW Heather Jett was selected as an award recipient at the Warren/Washington Crime Victims’ Breakfast. The DA stated: “Heather did outstanding work and the woman is now healthier and safer, and we are able to hold the perpetrators criminally accountable. We look forward to acknowledging Heather as well as bringing awareness to the impact of crimes against the elderly.” (Editor’s Note: What a great story of dedicated APS casework and teamwork with community partners! Congratulations, Heather Jett!)

Who Are the Perpetrators? A Review of Recent New York City APS Data
By Adult Services Specialist Susan Hollander, OCFS Bureau of Adult Services

We recently shared data from ASAP.Net regarding reported perpetrators of abuse, neglect by others, and financial exploitation. ASAP.Net is the electronic APS case recording and reporting data system used by APS outside of New York City. In New York City, APS.Net is the APS case recording and reporting data system.

All reported perpetrators were tracked in the APS.Net database after being assigned to one of the following categories:

1. Spouse/Significant other
2. Family members (child, grandchild, nephew, niece, etc., excluding spouse/significant other)
3. Non-family (excluding spouse/significant other); or
4. Unspecified

The Bureau of Adult Services reviewed 2015 and 2016 data for APS clients in New York City. Data was used from APS.Net after the 60-day Assessment was completed and approved, since caseworkers would have more detailed information than at the earlier stages.

We have reviewed ASAP data regarding perpetrators in three previous reports. The first one examined data from 2008 and 2009 and published the findings in the October 2010 Adult Services Newsletter article entitled “A Disturbing Trend: Intra-Family Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults.” The second report, titled “The Trend Continues: Family Members Comprise the Largest Percentage of Perpetrators,” was released in 2013 and looked at data from 2011 and 2012. The third report, titled “Who are the Perpetrators? A Review of Recent APS Data,” was released in 2017 and looked at the data from 2015 and 2016.

New York City data has been made available for the same two-year period of 2015 and 2016. Who are the perpetrators in New York City referrals for these years? See the results below.

Physical Abuse 

 
2015
2016
Males
44.79%
42.17%
Females
14.58%
25.30%
Unspecified
40.63%
32.53%
 
 
 
Family Members
56.25%
61.45%
Spouse/Significant Other
15.63%
18.07%
Non-Family
28.13%
20.48%

Psychological Abuse 

 
2015
2016
Males
39.44%
43.20%
Females
23.24%
24%
Unspecified
37.32%
32.80%
 
 
 
Family Members
57.04%
68.80%
Spouse/Significant Other
11.97%
12.00%
Non-Family
30.99%
19.20%

Neglect By Others

 
2015
2016
Males
36.24%
37.04%
Females
37.55%
34.92%
Unspecified
26.20%
28.04%
 
 
 
Family Members
68.56%
65.61%
Spouse/Significant Other
8.73%
11.64%
Non-Family
22.71%
22.75%

Financial Exploitation

 
2015
2016
Males
31.18%
29.45%
Females
23.98%
25.89%
Unspecified
44.84%
44.66%
 
 
 
Family Members
45.32%
50.49%
Spouse/Significant Other
4.56%
3.56%
Non-Family
50.12%
45.95%

Sexual Abuse

 
2015
2016
Males
37.50%
37.50%
Females
25.00%
37.50%
Unspecified
37.50%
25.00%
 
 
 
Family Members
50.00%
25.00%
Spouse/Significant Other
12.50%
25.00%
Non-Family
37.50%
50.00%

Summary of New York City Findings: 2015 and 2016
In 3 of 5 identified forms of abuse, family members constitute the highest percentage of reported suspected perpetrators. Family members made up the highest percentage of perpetrators in the following areas:

  • Neglect by Others; (65.61% for 2016 and 68.56 % for 2015)
  • Psychological Abuse: (68.80% in 2016 and 57.04% for 2015)
  • Physical Abuse: (61.45% for 2016 and 56.25% for 2015)

In the area of sexual abuse, the 2015 and 2016 data showed opposing results. In 2015, a family member was more likely to commit sexual abuse than a non-family member. In 2016, the results were reversed.

In the area of financial exploitation, the 2015 and 2016 data showed opposing results. In 2015, a non-family member was more likely to commit financial exploitation than a non-family member. In 2016, the results were reversed, the perpetrator was more likely to be a family member.

Males had a higher percentage in being identified as suspected perpetrators in the areas of physical abuse (42.17% in 2016 and 44.79% in 2015) and psychological abuse (43.2% in 2016 and 39.44% in 2015).

Females had a higher percentage in being identified as suspected perpetrators in the area of neglect by others in 2015 (37.55%) and males had a higher percentage in being identified as suspected perpetrators in 2016 (37.04).

In 2015, males had a higher percentage in the area of sexual abuse (37.5%), while in 2016 males and females had an equal percentage. This was a small sample and there were several unspecified.

In the area of financial exploitation, nearly half the sample was unspecified. This was consistent for both 2015 and 2016. Of the remaining sample, males had a higher percentage in being identified as suspected perpetrators for both 2015 (31.18%) and 2016 (29.45%).

(Editor’s Note: Thanks to HRA for supplying this data. HRA has advised it plans a refresher training for workers to address the high numbers of “unspecified” responses.)

NYS Office of Victim Services (OVS) Presents Webinar: A Partnership to Support Victims of Elder and Adult Abuse: OVS, OCFS and Local APS


Kathy Davidson, Crime Victim Specialist III at OVS, and John Watson, Esq., Counsel to OVS, presented a webinar on May 16, 2018, providing an OVS overview and specific information on how APS can assist clients who are victims of crime to seek compensation, and how to access other OVS-funded community services. Alan Lawitz, Director of the OCFS Bureau of Adult Services, served as moderator. This webinar was recorded and can be heard online in the Human Services Learning Center (HSLC). Thanks to Kathy and John for a very informative presentation!


Queens for A Day! (or Queens: No Rooks, No Pawns)

OCFS and the NYS Department of Financial Services (DFS) co-sponsored a multidisciplinary training of Queens-based financial professionals on April 12, 2018. This training, one of a series that the agencies have presented across the state, has a goal of recognition, prevention and reporting of elder and adult financial exploitation. Presenters included representatives of the OCFS Bureau of Adult Services, DFS, NYC APS, the Queens DA’s Elder Abuse unit, and the NYC Elder Abuse Center (NYCEAC). Plans are underway for launch of a Queens Enhanced Multidisciplinary Team (EMDT), and many key participants of the soon-to-be EMDT were present.

 

 


The Queens Team! Front row, L-R: Christine Ashby, Tatyana Finer,  Terneisa Calhoun, Sharda Lachmenar. Back row, L-R: Wanda  Sutton, Deborah Holt-Knight, Rima Rivera (all HRA APS), Lisa    Rachmuth (NYCEAC), Christina Burke, Kristen Kane, Jim Dever.