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APS Case Process

APS Investigations

On average, Adult Protective Services, or APS, completes 85,000 investigations of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation a year. APS resolves most of these cases by working closely with our community partners to ensure vulnerable adults receive the necessary services and resources to live a safe and healthy life. When we work with our valued and needed partners, we can find solutions that lead to better outcomes for vulnerable adults.

APS working to facilitate the case process.

Reporting to APS

Reports of suspected abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or financial exploitation are made to the Texas Abuse Hotline, 800-252-5400, which is operated by DFPS's Statewide Intake (SWI) program. You can report situations that are not urgent at Include as much detail as possible and a good call-back number for APS to ask follow-up questions.

If you think a vulnerable adult is being abused, neglected, or financially exploited, Texas law requires you to report it to DFPS. These reports are protected by law. A person who makes a report in good faith is immune from civil or criminal liability. If someone fails to report a suspected case, he or she may face a misdemeanor or felony charge.

APS investigates allegations involving victims who live at home. We do not investigate situations in nursing facilities or licensed group homes. If you suspect abuse or neglect of someone living in a nursing facility or licensed group home, call Texas Health and Human Services at 800-458-9858. APS also does not have the authority to investigate allegations against someone who does not have an ongoing relationship with the client.

Woman reporting through phone.


When allegations meet APS's investigation criteria, SWI creates a case and assigns a priority based on the situation's severity. SWI sends the case to a local APS office. An APS caseworker is assigned and begins an investigation.


Priority 1: Visit within 24 hours of the report

If the report alleges that the victim is being seriously harmed or risks dying from abuse or neglect, the caseworker must attempt a face-to-face visit with him or her within 24 hours of receiving it.


Priority 2: Visit within 3 days of the report

If the report alleges that the victim is being abused, neglected, or exploited and risks serious harm, the caseworker must attempt a face-to-face visit with him or her within three calendar days of receiving it.


Priority 3: Visit within 7 days of the report

If the report alleges that the victim is being abused or neglected, the caseworker must attempt a face-to-face visit with him or her within seven calendar days of receiving it.


Priority 4: Visit within 14 days of the report

If a report alleges only financial exploitation and the victim isn't risking imminent hardship or lacking basic needs, the caseworker must attempt a face-to-face visit with him or her within 14 calendar days of receiving it.


Within 24 hours of receiving an intake, the caseworker who is assigned the case contacts someone who has current and reliable information about the situation. The caseworker confirms whether the client needs immediate action or will be safe until they meet face-to-face. The assigned priority of the case determines how soon this meeting happens.

The caseworker meets with the client to assess his or her safety and discuss the allegations. During the visit, the caseworker gathers evidence to determine whether the client is a victim of abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or financial exploitation. The caseworker will contact a local law enforcement agency if he or she suspects someone committed a crime.

Caseworker investigating an intake face-to-face.

Client Service Plan

If the APS caseworker determines abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation happened and the client will accept help, the caseworker may arrange for or provide services to prevent further harm. We will work with partners, the client, and the client's family to develop a service plan. This plan will help identify the cause of the problem and the short-term or long-term services that are needed. We understand that no two clients are alike and that working with our valued partners is critical to achieving the best outcomes.

Actions and Services to Help Clients

A client's service plan may involve actions by a range of participants, including:

Family members, neighbors, or friends.

Engage people close to the client who may help address safety concerns and give the client temporary shelter, care, or other help.

Community or government agencies or services.

Work with community or faith-based organizations, tribal councils, or other agencies to address safety concerns or identify problems.

These may include:

  • Public health authorities.
  • Hospitals.
  • 911.
  • Primary care physicians.
  • Animal control.
  • Nursing facility.
  • Law enforcement.
  • Private business.
  • Courts.
  • Local nonprofits.
  • Fire department/EMS.
  • Volunteers.
  • Code enforcement.

Services may include, but are not limited to:

  • Psychological or medical evaluation.
  • Emergency home health care services.
  • Access to emergency food, shelter, and medication.
  • Assistance with utilities.
  • House cleaning and minor home repairs.
Services being provided.

A client's service plan can also include:

Services that APS buys

These include any goods or services APS buys or promises to buy with APS funds for short-term expenses on an emergency basis. Examples include shelter, food, medication, cleaning, minor home repairs, restoring utilities, and mental health assessments.

Services that APS provides

These are direct services that address safety concerns or other problems. An APS caseworker can deliver medication, food, or items from an APS resource room such as personal hygiene supplies or adult diapers.

Legal action

This occurs when law enforcement, APS, or another agency takes steps to make sure the client is safe. APS relies on local mental health authorities and law enforcement to deal with immediate mental health concerns. APS cannot force services on a client who has the mental capacity to make his or her own decisions. If a client is in a situation that threatens his or her life or safety, APS can pursue legal action such as an Emergency Order for Protective Services, described in the section below.


This consists of moving a client from his or her home to a hospital, nursing home, or other alternative care facility. Clients who have the capacity to make their own decisions can choose to remain in their home. If they do not have capacity, APS may seek court orders to move these clients to a safe environment, such as a nursing home. APS does not serve as a guardian. If a client needs a guardian, the caseworker will search for the client's relatives or refer him or her to the HHSC Office of Guardianship Services.

Removing a client from his or her home

APS cannot enter a person's home without the permission of an adult who lives in it. APS may ask the court to issue an order to authorize entry when all reasonable efforts to enter have been denied.

Emergency shelter

APS does not have emergency shelters or housing. We work with mental health providers, law enforcement, homeless shelters, and others to find temporary housing for clients who need it.

Groceries being delivered by APS.

Emergency Order for Protective Services

An Emergency Order for Protective Services (EOPS) is a petition to a probate or county court. An APS caseworker may ask the court to issue an EOPS so APS can remove a client from his or her home and take the client to a medical facility. The caseworker may request it when there is reasonable cause to believe that the client:

  • Is in a state of abuse or neglect that places his or her life or physical safety in immediate danger.
  • Lacks the physical or mental capacity to consent to services.
  • Does not have a spouse, relative, or guardian to give consent.
holding hands


APS makes guardianship referrals when clients appear to lack the capacity to make decisions that will keep them from further harm. Before doing that, APS must determine if:

  • The client is in an ongoing state of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.
  • A least restrictive alternative (LRA) can protect the client; for example, having money management services.
  • Suitable family or friends are willing and able to serve as guardian.
  • Guardianship will adequately protect the client.

APS and partners work together to assess the client's need for guardianship. If they determine a client needs guardianship, APS will work with the person who is able to serve in that role. If there is no one available, the caseworker will refer the case to the HHSC Office of Guardianship Services. APS's role is to refer clients for guardianship, not serve as the guardian.

APS will prepare information for the court filings and serve as a resource during the court proceedings. We will continue to provide services to the client until the court decides on the proposed guardianship. If the court does not grant guardianship, APS will determine whether all feasible and available resources have been exhausted.

Guardian assisting vulnerable adult with daily activities.