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The Use of VOCA Victim Assistance Program Funds for APS Intake Workers

August 16, 2017

In all states, some form of adult protective services (APS) exists to receive reports of elder abuse. Some states utilize a statewide hotline for receiving reports of elder abuse (intake), while other states maintain a system of local level intake. Intake is conducted, among other things, to determine whether victim services should be the only referral or whether a more system-delivered response is indicated (i.e., an APS investigation).

The person responsible for initially fielding reports of elder abuse is the APS intake worker. In some states, the intake worker has no other responsibilities, while in other states the intake worker alternatively functions as an APS caseworker.

The APS intake worker plays a crucial yet underappreciated role within the APS system. As the first person with whom the public interacts within the APS system, intake workers set the tone for the remainder of the APS process. In addition, intake workers must possess a number of skills as they—

  • receive calls from concerned and distressed members of the public requiring crisis management services.

  • decipher whether a situation is an emergency and marshal resources to respond quickly and appropriately.

  • triage calls necessitating the careful balance of under-accepting (leaving people in abusive situations) and over-accepting (unnecessarily sending APS caseworkers into homes which is unnecessarily intrusive and a strain on APS resources) calls.

  • convey accurately all of this information to the APS caseworker who in turn conducts an investigation and, depending on the disposition, offer services for the victim.

In this manner, the intake worker facilitates the eventual provision of victim services. Therefore, VOCA Victim Assistance funds may be used to partially or fully fund the APS intake worker position where the intake worker’s responsibilities involve providing or facilitating the provision of victim services.

The use of VOCA Victim Assistance funding to support APS intake workers who exclusively manage a statewide hotline for victims to receive and provide information is also an allowable use of VOCA Victim Assistance funding.

Each state, however, has the discretion to determine how VOCA Victim Assistance funding is distributed to different victim service programs. Therefore, while these expenses are allowable uses of VOCA Victim Assistance funding, the state may choose not to fund such services.

Agencies providing APS intake may wish to reach out to their VOCA-funded state victim assistance program offices to share information about APS intake services and discuss whether VOCA Victim Assistance funding may be available to support APS services in their state.

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