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Headshot of Maria GreenePandemic Resources for APS

by Maria Greene, APS TARC Team Member

Maria Greene is an APS TARC consultant and is also a certified Disability Integration Specialist, FEMA Emergency Management Institute, and credentialed in the National Emergency Response Framework.

We typically think of emergencies in terms of big weather events so the COVID-19 pandemic has us seeking answers to new questions. This pandemic has temporarily changed the way Adult Protective Services (APS) staff work and has significantly reduced or stopped in-person visits with clients. Each state’s instructions regarding APS work activities varies and includes (1) face-to-face visits continue as usual, (2) serious reports of abuse are triaged, or (3) no in-person visits. Whether you are seeing people now or already planning for the time that visits will resume, the question arises about an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The following information is provided to help you identify influencers in your state able to assist APS.

  • Your governor declared a state emergency. This activates the state Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Due to the nature of pandemic, the state public health director will likely carry the most influence.
  • The EOC is staffed with people from all areas of government. The EOC typically has representation from social services such as the health and human services, aging services, and family and children services. The EOC contacts can help to facilitate communication regarding the health, safety and well-being of APS clients and workforce.
  • The President declared a national emergency. Governors may ask the President for their state/territory/tribal nation to receive an emergency declaration enabling the state to receive assistance from Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Authority (DHS FEMA). Click here for a listing of states emergency declarations for COVID-19.
  • If your state has received an emergency declaration, FEMA along with the state emergency management authority are the leaders. The greatest influencers within the state will likely be the governor, public health director, emergency manager, and National Guard commander. FEMA funds may be used by the state to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE). Prioritization of PPE is given to hospitals, health care facilities, and nursing homes.
  • Congress has appropriated funding, in addition to FEMA funds. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) appropriations are distributed to state’s department or division of aging services. Funding is given with guidance on how it may be spent. The majority of funding is for direct client services. There is specific funding for Aging Disability Resource Centers (ADRC).   The HHS Administration for Children and Families received appropriations for various programs such as Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and Child Welfare Services.

During this unprecedented time, it is important to help educate others about the work of APS and the needs of clients. Discuss with state authorities the important role APS plays in responding to reports of adult maltreatment.  Give examples, such as neglect of a person in need of medical and social supports or financial exploitation by others of a client’s stimulus check. Explain the circumstances of investigations involving face-to-face contacts with people who are asymptomatic or recovering from COVID-19.  Think strategically of the partners and funding sources that the APS program already has or those that should be partners. This is a prime opportunity to develop new partnerships. The role of APS in helping individuals and communities to recover will be evolving. Plan now for the recovery period and share your program’s priorities with state leaders.

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