PA 16-149—HB 5289
AN ACT CONCERNING PROTECTIVE SERVICES FOR VULNERABLE PERSONS
SUMMARY: This act makes the following changes related to elderly protective services:
1. broadens the circumstances when the Department of Social Services (DSS) commissioner must disclose the results of an investigation into suspected elderly abuse, neglect, exploitation, or abandonment but limits the type of information that may be disclosed (§§ 3 & 4);
2. requires the DSS commissioner to develop and submit to the legislature a strategic plan to (a) incorporate specified federal guidelines into the state's elderly protective services program and (b) align state elder abuse data collection with specified federal standards (§ 1);
3. requires the DSS commissioner to develop an educational training program to promote accurate and prompt reporting of elderly abuse, neglect, exploitation, and abandonment and make it available to mandated reporters and other interested people (§ 2); and
4. requires the Commission on Aging to evaluate the elderly protective services system and recommend whether it should be expanded to serve individuals age 18 years and older (§ 5).
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2016
§§ 3 & 4 - DSS SUSPECTED ABUSE REPORT DISCLOSURE
By law, DSS must investigate reports of elderly abuse, abandonment, neglect, or exploitation, or whether an elderly individual is otherwise in need of protective services.
Under prior law, if certain mandated reporters or other individuals reported suspected abuse, neglect, exploitation, or abandonment of a long-term care facility resident, the commissioner had to disclose the investigation's results to the reporter upon request. The act requires the commissioner to disclose the investigation's results to any mandated reporter who makes a report, not just to those making reports about individuals in long-term care facilities.
The act requires the commissioner to disclose, in general terms and within 45 days of completing the investigation, the investigation's results to the individual who initially reported the suspected abuse. The act allows such disclosure only if the
1. person reporting suspected abuse or neglect is a mandated reporter;
2. information is not privileged or confidential under state or federal law;
3. names of the witnesses or other people interviewed as part of the investigation are kept confidential; and
4. name or names of the person or people suspected to be responsible for the abuse, neglect, exploitation, or abandonment are not disclosed unless they have been arrested as a result of the investigation.
§ 1 – STRATEGIC PLAN
The act requires the DSS commissioner to develop a strategic plan to (1) incorporate the federal Administration for Community Living's Voluntary Consensus Guidelines for State Adult Protective Services (i. e. , best practices) into the state's elderly protective services program and (2) align state elder abuse data collection with the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System standards (NAMRS, a voluntary, nationwide elder abuse data collection and reporting system). The commissioner must submit the plan, along with any legislative recommendations, to the Aging and Human Services committees by July 1, 2017.
§ 2 – EDUCATIONAL TRAINING PROGRAM
The act requires the DSS commissioner to develop an educational training program promoting prompt and accurate reporting of elderly abuse, neglect, exploitation, and abandonment. The program must be available to mandated elder abuse reporters and other interested people, on DSS's website, and in person or otherwise at various times and locations throughout the state as determined by the commissioner.
§ 5 - ELDERLY PROTECTIVE SERVICES SYSTEM EVALUATION
Under the act, the Commission on Aging must evaluate the elderly protective services system and recommend whether it should be expanded to serve individuals age 18 years and older. (PA 16-3, May Special Session eliminates the Commission on Aging and creates the Commission on Women, Children, and Seniors as its successor agency. )
The evaluation must describe (1) the current protective services structure, including any gaps in the current system; (2) the need, if any, for an expanded protective services system; (3) protective services models in other states; and (4) the current system's overall capacity to meet present and future needs. The commission must submit its findings to the Aging and Human Services committees by October 1, 2017.
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