A long overdue acknowledgement for the work toward elder justice came on December 27, 2020, when the Coronavirus Response & Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021(CRRSA) was signed into law. It was the first time in U.S. history that all state and territorial adult protective services (APS) programs received dedicated federal funding. CRRSA provided the Administration for Community Living (ACL) with funds to make more than $93M in grants to APS agencies. ACL has allocated part of CRRSA funds for APS to the APS TARC to provide guidance and technical assistance to state APS grantees. ACL asked APS grantees what types of guidance and technical assistance would help them improve the services they provide to people experiencing abuse, neglect, and exploitation. One area of need identified by APS grantees was guidance for data and technology used by state and local APS agencies. I serve as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) and focus on improving the data and technology solutions used by state and local APS agencies to support the services needed by people experiencing adult maltreatment.
Making an Observable Difference: Examples from APS Programs
My work helps state and local APS agencies understand how to develop and use technology solutions to support their programs by highlighting some of the available tools and features that may improve the services provided to adults experiencing maltreatment. Once I receive a request from the APS TARC, I can perform needs analyses, advisory assistance, and research for a state APS grantee. I work with the APS TARC and Office of Elder Justice and APS staff to further clarify and define the grantee’s request for guidance and technical assistance.
Several state APS grantees have already requested information about tools and services. Working with the APS TARC, I compiled overviews and resource comparison reports. These overviews provide guidance by outlining technology features, capabilities, and pricing.
The following are examples of guidance provided to state APS grantees. These requests may lead you to consider additional areas where technology can be employed to improve innovation, strategies, and solutions.
- Worker personal safety technology applications
- People search engines and databases
- GPS and routing technology applications
Worker Personal Safety Technology Applications
Personal safety is at the forefront of APS concerns, whether we are protecting workers from potential violence or safety hazards. Safety applications assist lone workers with individual safety and are a vital toolset for operations management. Some of the capabilities of the various applications include time management, help call-outs, two-way audio, alarms, no-motion sensors (no movement detected after a certain time is tracked/alerted by a personal mobile device), and safety call-centers with direct connections to law enforcement.
When performing a web search or shopping for relevant field safety equipment online, focus on results which offer personal safety tools and address the urgency of hazards or incidents in the field. For example, if a vendor advertises features including tracking, alerting and law enforcement notifications, look for information about average response times, or if the system has the potential to cause delays that may leave an APS worker at risk of harm.
People Search Engines and Databases
People search engines and databases can be used to fulfill workflow requirements such as age verification, address/residence queries, and locating relatives, or other vital statistics and identifiable information. We found that these tools provide immense quantities of data pulled from public records and services, and billions of online records.
The availability, reliability, and accuracy of the information provided is of the utmost importance when using these tools, so the report includes summaries of user reviews about ease-of-use and accuracy ratings. User reviews also reveal any concerns with regard to customer support and billing issues. Further addressing usability, some of these search engine tools are available on both mobile devices and personal computers or laptops, making them easily accessible for field case workers.
GPS and Routing Technology
One grantee required a tool that could find the best route for field worker’s home visits. Our analysis presented the APS agency with a list of various GPS and routing applications. Most technologies were cloud-based with the ability to receive routes with real-time alerts based on road closures, accidents, and traffic patterns. This allows for the most efficient routes for field case management and avoids wasted hours in traffic closures or other undesirable road conditions.
Unlike commonly used GPS and routing technologies, some applications provide check-in and check-out capabilities with workload reassignment and dynamic load balancing. For example, if a field case worker has an unplanned absence or emergency, routes and assignments are recalculated. Most software is integrated with the case worker's personal mobile device and can be easily installed, like other personal mobile applications.
Learn How to Get Started
These and other studies are available upon request to all state APS programs. Guidance provided by APS TARC can help state APS programs explore technology solutions and provide clarity in understanding various technologies. You can fill out a form to contact APS TARC with requests or comments, and if you have an idea of the technology tool(s) which your state wants to explore, please mention them in your request. This will help shape the conversation, detail your need and land your inquiry in the right hands.
Let’s continue empowering the APS workforce as we aim to be good stewards of public resources and information technology!
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