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Home / Blog July 2023

The APS Administrative Data Initiative (AADI): 
Using Administrative Data to Strengthen APS Programs

Kenny Steinman
Olivia Valdes
Heather Mutchie
NAPSA R2P (National Adult Protective Services Association, Research to Practice Interest Group)

Please note that the opinions provided here are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of any organization with which the authors are affiliated.

July 16, 2023


As federal agencies support the development of, and access to, data systems for adult protective services (APS), researchers and practitioners are increasingly using administrative data to study different types of adult mistreatment and the systems that respond to them. However, some major challenges remain. APS programs have little guidance about how best to use these data and researchers are often unfamiliar with, or unable to access, them. These issues limit programs’ ability to compare their experiences and have contributed to inconsistent research findings and uneven quality of research (Steinman et al., 2022).

Since 2022, the APS Administrative Data Initiative (AADI) has been building upon ongoing efforts by APS Technical Assistance Resource Center (APS TARC), the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System (NAMRS), and others. AADI aims to engage APS practitioners and researchers nationwide and encourage the use of APS administrative data for studying and addressing adult mistreatment. Through broad collaboration, AADI plans to provide support to administrators and researchers that is not yet available. 

To date, our work has focused on three activities: 


  1. Creating a national network of interested administrators and researchers. Over 200 people expressed interest in our initiative and 147 participated in an AADI online forum on February 3, 2023. Attendees hailed from dozens of states across the nation. 
  2. Identifying how our field currently uses APS administrative data. We reviewed published and unpublished reports and found that data was most often used to improve practice, evaluate new approaches, and examine emerging issues. 
  3. Highlighting high-priority research questions that may be answered through APS administrative data. From an extensive list of research questions identified in the APS Research Agenda (Administration for Community Living, 2020), we identified six questions that were both important to stakeholders and feasible to answer (at least in part) through APS administrative data. These included:

    1. What is the impact of caseload size on the quality of investigations and interventions?
    2. What is the impact of caseload size on case worker performance, retention, and satisfaction?
    3. Does the determination of a successful outcome vary by adult maltreatment type or other factors, and if so, how?
    4. What types/kinds of referral services (e.g., legal services, transportation services) are effective for each maltreatment type?
    5. What is the impact of specialized APS units (e.g., financial exploitation, self-neglect) on investigation outcomes?
    6. What is the impact of using standardized tools on APS service delivery and client outcomes?


A summary of this work appears in the new AADI report: Using Administrative Data to Improve APS Programs, published in July 2023.

Next Steps


Thanks to the work of our volunteers and NAPSA’s support, AADI has had an impressive start. Our next steps include establishing AADI’s long-term goals and finding its institutional home.

NAPSA has already expressed interest in continuing to serve as an institutional home for AADI. However, for AADI to be truly valuable to the field, resources and a clear mission are needed. The past year’s successful launch relied entirely on volunteers, but continuing to engage the field will require dedicated staff time. To coordinate our work with other efforts like NAMRS, APS TARC, and the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), AADI will need to create a strategic plan that identifies significant, unmet needs related to APS administrative data, develop a roadmap to address them, and find resources to support our efforts. 

Some examples of discrete, longer-term projects might include the following.

Creating Voluntary Standard APS Metrics

NAMRS has done tremendous work establishing a framework for states’ APS collection of administrative data. However, there remains a real need to create voluntary standardized metrics for states to report comparable descriptions of their work. One approach could be to provide reporting and substantiation rates specific to the different types of populations that APS programs serve. This could include, for instance, separate rates for community-dwelling adults 18–59 and 60+ years old, as well as those for similar age groups who reside in long-term care facilities. Even though some APS programs do not serve all these different types of clients, building on ACL’s voluntary consensus guidelines for state APS systems (ACL, 2020b; Section 7a, Managing Program Data) could help provide more comparable results for those that do. NAMRS Key Indicators Component (NAMRS, n.d.) might provide a starting point for identifying standardized metrics. 

Other standards might relate to cleaning data or choosing population denominators for calculating reporting rates as well as approaches for handling the multi-level structure of APS administrative data (Steinman et al., 2022). AADI’s strategic plan could help prioritize when different standards should be worked on.

Identify and resolve unaddressed barriers to agency-researcher collaboration

NAPSA, APS TARC, and NCEA already produce valuable training for APS, along with forging opportunities for practitioners and researchers to interact. However, AADI could address other barriers that also limit collaboration. For instance, agencies often worry that sharing data could risk their APS program appearing ineffective. Both practitioners and researchers may also hesitate to navigate the legal procedures for sharing data, given varying state confidentiality requirements and a longstanding office culture that values keeping information in house (State Data Sharing Initiative, 2018). AADI could help create templates for data sharing agreements that address agency concerns while granting researchers the freedom needed to publish. The initiative could also create suggestions on how APS-related funding opportunities could encourage the thoughtful use of administrative data in APS-related grant proposals as well as program evaluations.


Other fields like medicine and economic development have made great progress in overcoming barriers to practitioner-researcher collaboration, and more state and federal entities are now requiring grantees to share data publicly (State Data Sharing Initiative, 2018; Kaiser & Brainard, 2023). AADI desires to build on these trends to identify barriers in our own field and develop approaches for addressing them.


Interested in AADI?  
Email: info@napsa-now.org

Last Modified: 11/30/2023