Budget invests in Elder Justice initiatives to protect older Mainers and adults with disabilities

July 12, 2023

The final piece of the FY24-25 biennial budget, passed by the Legislature on July 6, 2023 and signed into law yesterday by Governor Mills, includes more than $4 million in investments to reduce abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults and adults with disabilities in Maine. The budget fulfills several key recommendations of the Elder Justice Roadmap, published in December 2021 by the Elder Justice Coordinating Partnership established by Governor Mills. The funding will:

  • Make permanent the Elder Service Connections program to connect Adult Protective Services (APS) clients to services, allowing APS to refer clients to an Elder Advocate through the Elder Abuse Institute of Maine who can help with arranging services and setting client-centered goals. Originally piloted in 2018 as a grant-funded research project, the Elder Services Connections program has operated successfully statewide since 2021 and will now be sustained into the future with this funding.
  • Expand APS capacity by creating 10 positions statewide within APS.
  • Support civil legal services for older adults by increasing the capacity of Legal Services for the Elderly, which offers free legal assistance to Mainers age 60 and older.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of Aging and Disability Services recently released an APS Data Trends Report (PDF) covering State Fiscal Years 2021 and 2022. The release of the report helps fulfills another top recommendation of the Elder Justice Roadmap: to share information with the public regarding the work of APS and the incapacitated and dependent adults served by APS.

The report highlights the growing number of reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of incapacitated and dependent adults received by APS – a 10percent increase from SFY21 to SFY22.

Report showing increase in intake reports from 12,991 in FY2021 to 14,251 in FY2022

The report includes demographic information regarding incapacitated and dependent adults served by APS and various case components. For instance, two out of three APS clients are age 60 or older. Across all populations served by APS, the most common allegation is self-neglect (the inability of a client to meet their own support and care needs).

The report also includes information and data relative to the overall APS process (e.g., the number of reports received from mandated reporters versus non-mandated reporters and the average length of an investigation) and variations in the data by population categories (e.g., adults receiving Developmental Services) and age groups. As the report notes, allegation types vary considerably depending on the types of support services (if any) a client is receiving. For example, while self-neglect is the most frequently reported allegation when considering all populations served by APS, for adults receiving Developmental Services who are 60 or older, the most common allegation reported is caregiver neglect (representing 49 percent of the allegations for this group of clients).

In support of the work of the Elder Justice Coordinating Partnership and all partners dedicated to addressing abuse of older adults and adults with disabilities, the report provides useful insight into the APS process that can serve to educate the public on the role of APS and help address the complex issues surrounding abuse, neglect, and exploitation of Maine’s incapacitated and dependent adults.

The full report is available here (PDF).