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APS is responsible for investigating abuse, neglect and financial exploitation and providing services to persons:
- who are aged 65 or older, or
- who are aged 18-65 and have mental, physical, or developmental disabilities that substantially impair their ability to live independently or provide for their own self-care or protection, and
- who reside in the community, e.g., private homes, unlicensed adult foster homes, unlicensed board and care homes, etc.
Reports of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation sometimes do not contain sufficient information for APS to determine an adult’s level of impairment from a disability; therefore, APS assesses the alleged victim’s level of impairment to determine whether he or she meets APS eligibility criteria. Persons under the age of 18 may be served if they have substantially impairing disabilities and have been declared to be legal adults through court order or marriage.
Sec. 48.002(c) of the Human Resources Code gives APS authority to further define abuse, neglect, and exploitation for purposes of conducting an investigation. These definitions can be found in 40 Texas Administrative Code §705.
APS specialists investigate reports of alleged abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation to determine if the reported situation exists, and to what extent it adversely affects the alleged victim.
The specialist initiates an investigation of all reports within 24 hours of receipt of the report by the department. Case initiation (also known as the 24-hour contact) is defined as contact with a person who has current and reliable information about the alleged victim’s situation. The case initiation allows the specialist to gain further knowledge of the situation and determine whether immediate intervention is required.
Allegation priorities are based on severity and immediacy of alleged threat to the life or physical safety of the alleged victim.
- Priority I reports require a face-to-face contact within 24 hours.
- Priority II reports require a face-to-face contact within 3 calendar days.
- Priority III reports require a face-to-face contact within 7 calendar days.
- Priority IV reports allege financial exploitation when there is no danger of imminent impoverishment or deprivation of basic needs to the victim. APS specialist must make a face-to-face contact within 14 calendar days.
The specialist completes a comprehensive assessment of the alleged victim's situation. The purpose of the assessment is to determine the alleged victim's eligibility, current situation and needs. The assessment process enables the APS staff to identify immediate danger factors and implement services to address the abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.
When the specialist validates that abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation occurred, the specialist completes a risk of recidivism assessment to help determine whether APS should provide intensive case services to the victim.
When reports are validated on cases in the community and protective services are appropriate, APS specialists provide or arrange for services to alleviate or prevent further maltreatment. Services may be provided directly by specialists, through arrangements with other community resources or purchased by APS on a short-term, emergency basis.
Types of services provided include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Financial assistance for rent and utility restoration
- Social services
- Health services
- Legal actions, such as emergency orders for protective services
- Referrals to other state or community services
Texas Laws and Client Rights
According to the Texas Human Resources Code (HRC), Chapter 48, the protective services client has the right to:
- Refuse protective services, unless he or she is suffering from abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation presenting a threat to life or physical safety and lacks the capacity to consent to receive protective services
- Receive the full protection and safety that APS can provide
- Participate in and be consulted about all decisions concerning his or her welfare, if able to do so
- Select the least restrictive of the alternatives available for meeting his or her needs
- Refuse medical treatment if it conflicts with his or her established religious beliefs and practices
- Have a court-appointed attorney ad-litem to represent his or her interests at any proceeding arising pursuant to HRC Chapter 48
Client Complaints against DFPS Employees for Alleged Misconduct
Depending on the nature of the complaint, district management reviews the alleged employee misconduct.
If the alleged misconduct does not require an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the Civil Rights Office (CRO), the Office of Consumer Affairs or program (CPS, APS, CCL or RCCL), then the employee’s managers are responsible for reviewing.
The employee’s supervisor is responsible for reviewing the complaint and consulting with his or her manager to determine if the alleged misconduct warrants further management review or other action. If further review is required, the district follows their chain of command.
However, if after review by district management the issue is not resolved, the complainant may contact APS State Office at (512) 438-3209 for further review. APS State Office review process starts with the Director of Field, then the Associate Commissioner, and finally the DFPS Commissioner, if necessary.
A client or other complainant may also be directed to the Office of Consumer Affairs (OIA) for any case specific and policy specific complaints that cannot be resolved in the district. In some cases, individuals may choose to contact the OIA directly, or bypass the district chain of command and go directly to APS State Office.