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What Happens When APS Is Called?

What Happens When APS Is Called?

What happens when APS is called? If you’re asking this question, you’ve likely already had some interaction with APS, or Adult Protective Services. Unfortunately, this can be a very stressful and frustrating process, whether you are the one making the call or the one threatened with an investigation. After all, it’s never a good feeling when the government needs to intervene and investigate your actions or the actions of someone you know.

So, what happens when APS is called? How long does an APS investigation take? Can you request information about an ongoing APS investigation? Finally, what can you do to avoid an APS investigation?

We will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s look at exactly what APS does.

who qualifies for APS

What is APS? 

APS is Adult Protective Services, a division of Social Services that specifically protects adults from abuse, neglect, or exploitation. In most cases, APS works to protect the rights of older adults who may have lost some or all of their physical or mental capacities. Disabled adults are frequently victims of abuse, so APS investigates claims to ensure the safety of some of the United States’ most vulnerable citizens.

Though APS is a national service, it is managed at the state level. This means that the criteria for who falls under the protection of APS can vary from state to state. For example, some states do not investigate claims on non-disabled adults under the age of 65, while others investigate a wide range of claims on any adults over the age of 18, as long as they have a disability, mental illness, or similar impairment that leaves them exposed to abuse or exploitation.

what happens when APS is called

What happens when APS is called? 

As soon as Adult Protective Services is called with a report, the representative will analyze the incident to see if it falls within the scope of APS jurisdiction. Even if there is an instance of abuse or exploitation, the person in question may not qualify as a vulnerable adult. If this is the case, an APS agent may instruct the caller to report the incident to local law enforcement authorities. 

However, if the APS agent determines that the purported victim of abuse does qualify as a vulnerable adult, then they will begin an investigation into the situation. Much like Child Protective Services (CPS), Adult Protective Services agents typically try to investigate potential abuse, neglect, or exploitation discreetly. This helps prevent further abuse while the investigation is underway. 

So, what happens when APS is called? If the APS decides to investigate, they can take several courses of action, including:

  • Making unannounced visits to the home or residence in question. This is typically the home where the victim lives, though it could also be the home or residence of the person (or people) suspected of committing abuse. In many cases, the abuser lives in the same place as the person being abused. 
  • Conduct interviews with residents of the home, neighbors, family members, friends, or other individuals who may have information about potential wrongdoing.
  • Determine whether or not some form of abuse has occurred, and if it has, offer protective services to the vulnerable adult(s) involved.

How long does an APS investigation take?

The length of an Adult Protective Services investigation can vary based on several different factors. For example, if an APS agent determines that a potential abuse victim does not fall under their jurisdiction, the investigation will come to a close before it starts. Alternatively, if APS launches an investigation and finds no evidence of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, the investigation could be over in a matter of days. 

Typically, investigations in which some form of abuse has occurred take longer. This is due to the fact that APS case managers have to work carefully to ensure the safety of vulnerable adults while also, if necessary, working in tandem with law enforcement. After determining the presence of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, an APS agent or case manager will work with the victim to provide emergency shelter, food, medical care, mental health services, or any additional assistance to ensure their safety.

In most cases, APS wants to get adults in situations of abuse or exploitation out of danger as quickly as possible. Therefore, most APS investigations move swiftly. Therefore, you can expect a standard APS investigation to take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Can I request information about an ongoing APS investigation?

The short answer is yes — you can ask for information about an ongoing Adult Protective Services investigation. However, you will almost never get many details. APS case managers are legally obligated to keep investigation-related details private until the case is closed, and sometimes even longer. If you are the person who filed the complaint, you might be able to find out if an investigation is underway. Otherwise, you shouldn’t expect to get much info from Adult Protective Services.

What can I do to avoid an APS investigation?

Because APS investigations are started with a report by a concerned individual, there is no sure way to avoid an APS investigation. The best thing you can do during an investigation is to show appropriate care. APS will determine if they feel any abuse or neglect is taking place and will take the steps they feel are appropriate.

The Bottom Line

What happens when APS is called? As you can see, there are a lot of potential outcomes. If you are the person reporting potential wrongdoing, then you may need to undergo an interview or assist the investigation with additional information. Alternatively, if you are the target of an investigation, you can expect unannounced visits to your home. In the event that you have done something wrong, you might even face criminal charges from local or state law enforcement.

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Matthew Jones is a freelance writer with a B.A. in Film and Philosophy. You can check out his blog at Philosophy in Film.