APS and COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for adult protective services professionals. Visits to clients' homes have been curtailed or eliminated in many areas and community services may be unavailable or reduced. This page details information about the effects of the pandemic on APS programs and additional information that may be helpful to APS professionals.
• Pandemic Resources for APS
• Adapting to a Pandemic the APS Way
• Does Remote Work Actually Work for APS?
APS Program Responses to COVID-19
Below are highlights from an analysis of 17 state responses to a request for program policy and practice changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Responses include FAQs, Fact Sheets, and formal changes to policy via memos, and are summarized below. Exact counts of the number of states are not provided as this summary will be updated regularly and only a subset of states have responded so far. The descriptions below are summaries of multiple state actions. If needed, more detail or examples for any of the individual items can be provided upon request.
Response summaries are divided among the categories listed below. Click the plus sign next to each category for details.
Update August 11, 2020 - The APS TARC has received additional information from several states since the original summary from April 2020 below. Analysis reveals no significant change in state guidance submitted. The additional guidance received reflected that many states are only conducting face-to-face visits on: certain types of alleged maltreatment (e.g. physical abuse), when there are immediate client safety needs, and clients without access to phone service or where an investigator is unable to reach the client by phone.
- The predominant issue identified is whether to conduct face-to-face visits with alleged victims or other collaterals. In general, states are not conducting face-to-face visits with individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. A few states stated they assess whether the risk to the worker outweighs the risk to the client, or attempt to “balance” client versus staff safety. Overall, there were a range of policy responses across the states, including:
- No change in policy
- All home visits suspended
- Continue visits for only certain types of maltreatment (e.g., physical or sexual abuse)
- Continue visits for cases in which significant or imminent risk - this is the most common language - to the alleged victim has been identified
- Continue visits for cases where the investigator is unable to reach the client by phone
- Determine need for a visit on a case-by-case basis, usually with a supervisor consult, based on screening
Some states are requiring a face-to-face visit before case closure.
Many states outlined technology alternatives and provided guidance on how and when to use alternatives to face-to-face interviews.
For programs that investigate in long-term care facilities, generally the APS program deferred to the facility’s or state’s protocols regarding visits, meaning that for most programs they are not conducting face-to-face visits in facilities.
Many states provide information to their staff – either directly in the materials sent out or or through reference to other published materials – about safety protocols for visits.
States generally did not change timeframes and requirements for investigations and monitoring contacts. A few explicitly reminded staff about these requirements.
A few states indicated that staff may need to or must increase collateral contacts as a substitute face-to-face visits.
A few states provided additional instructions on how to conduct and document assessments in the absence of face-to-face contacts.
If you are an adult protective services program who needs technical assistance related to COVID-19, or other issues, please feel free to reach out to us