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Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor
Sheila J. Poole, Acting Commissioner
December 2018
Volume 10, Number 3

The Adult Services Newsletter

A Message from the Executive Office
Great Attendance and Great Content at the 25th Anniversary of AATI!
By Acting OCFS Commissioner Sheila J. Poole
This year, the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) Bureau of Adult Services’ Adult Abuse Training Institute (AATI), for the first time included an AATI Law Enforcement Pre-Intensive Conference Day. The September event was attended by nearly 500 dedicated professionals, including 89 law enforcement professionals, who serve and protect vulnerable adults.
 
This year’s theme was A Quarter Century of AATI: Looking Back, Looking Forward. Art Mason, director of the Elder Abuse Program of Lifespan of Greater Rochester, New York, provided a well-received keynote address celebrating the essential role of APS and its partners in protecting clients, and the need for resilience in addressing the challenges of our work. This theme was carried forward in a plenary presentation by three people who personify “looking back and looking forward” in terms of shifts of perspective in their own professional careers: Paul Caccamise, vice president of Lifespan (and former APS director for Monroe County), Alan Lawitz, director of the OCFS Bureau of Adult Services (and former counsel to the New York State Departments of Social Services and Health for APS and long term care issues), and Liz Lowey, co-founder of Eversafe, Inc. (and former head of the Manhattan district attorney’s elder abuse unit). They discussed the progress made in the field over the years, the laws and initiatives that have made a significant impact on the work APS does, and how better use of technology and other developments promise to further enhance future work.

The conference recognized local APS staff who have served for 20 years or more, and those who have presented at AATI for 10 years or more. Workshops covered a variety of topics, including law enforcement, health and abuse. At the welcoming session, the Bureau of Adult Services led the singing of a song they call “AATI’s Such A Wonderful Conference,” and it has been true for 25 years. Congratulations on AATI’s Silver Anniversary!
 
 
AATI Law Enforcement Pre-Intensive Conference A Success!
By The New York State Police

The New York State Police was proud to participate in this year’s Adult Abuse Training Institute as this year marked a special milestone for the institute. We congratulate AATI as it celebrates 25 years of helping to make a difference in the fight against adult and elder abuse. For a quarter of a century, this training institute has combined the most current topics on adult abuse into one intensive training seminar.

According to the National Council on Aging, approximately one in ten Americans aged 60 and over have experienced some form of elder abuse. It is estimated that almost five million elders are abused each year. Yet, only one in 14 cases of abuse is reported to authorities.
These statistics only reinforce the importance of having partners from multiple disciplines work together in a cohesive and cooperative effort to protect our elders and work toward putting an end to the abuse of one of our most vulnerable populations.

The New York State Police would like to thank Adult Protective Services, The New York State Office of Children and Family Services and The Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging for allowing us to be an integral part of this year’s Law Enforcement Pre-Intensive Training Day.
In addition to members of the law enforcement community, we were honored to see adult protective services staff, social service and case workers, healthcare professionals, attorneys, and numerous others in attendance.

Each and every attendee plays an important role in this effort and the contribution that each makes grows exponentially when combined with the roles of others. Together, we can more effectively serve and protect our adult and elderly population in New York State and make an impactful difference in the fight against adult and elder abuse.

Below, left: Keynote speaker Lt. Col. Joseph A. Tripodo, assistant deputy superintendent of NYSP’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations; Right: Lt. Jon Anderson, Onondaga Co. Sheriff's Office, presents elder abuse training for law enforcement.

(Editor’s Note: We thank NYSP, and especially Senior Investigator Joshua Kean of the Special Victims Unit for his diligent efforts to make this happen and encouraging so many from law enforcement to attend.)

Photos From AATI

Top left to right: Mary Anne Corasaniti, presenting on the physical results of social isolation and how they affect clients; Art Mason, presenting Keynote address at AATI; Karen Webber, forensic accountant, presenting a workshop on the Financial Exploitation Investigation Suite of Tools (FEIST) developed together with the OCFS Bureau of Adult Services; Plenary presenters Alan Lawitz, Paul Caccamise and Liz Loewy; Tim Murphy, APS case supervisor, Orange Co. DSS, presenting on APS Assessments/Investigations; Rosemary Bailly, Esq., receiving Certificate of Recognition and Gratitude for presenting numerous workshops at AATI over the years on adult guardianship, powers of attorney and other legal issues.

From the Director:
Extended Hours at Adult Services Helpline and New “Stop Adult Abuse/Elder Abuse” Posters Available

By Bureau of Adult Services Director Alan Lawitz

The OCFS Human Services Call Center has operated an Adult Services Helpline since November 2014 (1-844-697-3505.) Call Center staff are trained to assist members of the public and professionals with information about APS and Family-Type Home for Adults (FTHA) programs, providing contact information and messages for local APS and FTHA staff and our bureau. From January through mid-November 2018, call center staff handled an average of 113 Adult Services Helpline calls per week during its hours of operation from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. That’s close to 5,900 calls a year.


On September 4, 2018, the Adult Services Helpline hours were extended to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI), part of Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, is handling these after-hours calls (5-8 p.m.). For the period September 4 through November 12, 2018, the number of after-hours calls averaged 16 per week. At that rate, the after-hours service would be handling 832 calls a year.

A Broader Range of Stop Elder Abuse/Stop Adult Abuse Posters Now Available
Our bureau partnered with OCFS’s Office of Communications, Bureau of Training, and the Professional Development Program (PDP) to increase the number of abuse prevention posters. With the addition of two Spanish posters and one English poster, there are now five in both English and Spanish. These posters are intended to support local APS public education and outreach activities regarding APS, required under OCFS regulations.


We will send local APS a supply of these posters, including suggested local distribution, together with labels that show local APS intake numbers and the toll-free number of the Adult Services Helpline. See below for a sampling of the posters. Please contact our bureau for additional posters. In the near future, we expect to make these available to order through the OCFS website. We especially thank designer Dan Meade of PDP, as well as our colleagues in communications and training, for these new posters.

Alan
 

 

Effective Collaboration With OPWDD: An Orleans County APS Success Story
By Dione Harrington, the director of services for Orleans County Child and Family Services

Orleans County APS received a referral on a young man who is autistic and familiar to our child welfare division. According to the referral, until his birthday just weeks earlier, he had a long, successful run in day programming, where the staff would routinely assist him with his personal hygiene. At some point, the young man’s family refused to complete the paperwork necessary for him to stay in program, and two things soon became evident - his family was facing the prospect of eviction and homelessness, and his family could not provide for their needs; even the young man’s friends could only accommodate him for brief amounts of time. Caseworker staff and APS staff were rebuffed repeatedly while trying to get medical help for his family, but eventually the workers succeeded in arranging a visit to the hospital.

Meanwhile, APS was allowed into the family home and found it reeking of feces, urine and rotten food, with maggots everywhere. We later learned from a family member the reason the day programming paperwork never came through was a desire to keep the son’s SSI payments flowing into the home, as that was the sole source of income despite multiple attempts on the part of social workers to assist.


APS was faced with two challenges in one: a neglected man with no capacity to care for himself, and his self-neglecting family member. A call to our partners at OPWDD led to a psychiatric exam and what OPWDD referred to as a “safe house” that APS then inspected and approved for the young man. He is still in the home, where the staff love him, but they are looking for permanent placement for him that will meet his long-term needs while Orleans County APS files for guardianship of him.
APS has been keeping up its attempts to assist the other family member (who continues to refuse help), in part by arranging a few supervised visits between the two of them. In the meantime, I’m happy to report that at least one of them is healthy and happy.

Elder Justice Advocate Program at the Upstate Elder Abuse Center at Lifespan
By CaTyra Polland, program coordinator, and Tracey Siebert-Konopko, LMSW, program manager

Elder abuse is a reality. A 2011 study of the prevalence of elder abuse in New York State by Lifespan and Weill Cornell Medical Center estimated that 260,000 older New Yorkers are abused each year. Elder abuse occurs in all neighborhoods, in all income strata. The problem is growing because the older adult population is increasing, with 48 million Americans age 65 or older. By 2030, just 12 years from now, that number is expected to reach 72 million.


Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc. provides information, guidance and services for older adults. The Upstate Elder Abuse Center at Lifespan provides intervention services in 10 counties in the Finger Lakes region, in addition to providing education, training, and consulting throughout New York State. The Elder Justice Advocate program (EJAP) is a new addition to the Upstate Elder Abuse Center. It is a program designed to improve outcomes for victims of elder abuse by establishing a network of professionals who guide and support victims through the complexities of the criminal justice system. Advocates have been recruited from existing service providers within law enforcement, district attorney offices, domestic violence programs, and other allied professionals.


EJAP is free for professionals and the adults it serves. Advocates are trained to work with abuse survivors using a trauma-informed lens. Advocates participate in a mandatory 4.5-hour, in-person training and receive ongoing education via monthly webinars on topics related to older adults and worker self-care.


To date, EJAP staff at Lifespan have trained 102 professionals throughout New York State, including 55 new advocates. We have hosted four webinars for more than 70 professionals. Our trained advocates have assisted more than a dozen older adult victims since April 2018. We are developing an advocate trainer manual, an advocate manual and a webpage exclusively for EJAP.  To learn more about this training program, or to inquire about advocates near you, please contact Tracy Siebert-Konopko at LifeSpan of Greater Rochester.

Albany County APS and Senior Services of Albany Provide Gatekeeper Training
Viola Lipscomb, the long-term care coordinator at Albany County APS, and Devon Barrett, Senior Services of Albany’s elder navigator, provided Gatekeeper training on May 16, 2018, to a group of National Grid staff (below). The training includes signs of elder abuse, how to report suspected abuse, and available community resources.