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1000 Program Overview: Adult Protective Services (APS)

APS January 2022

APS protects people in Texas who are age 65 or older and adults with disabilities.

APS operates under the authority of the following laws:

Title 2 of the Texas Human Resources Code (HRC), Chapter 48

Title 40 of the Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Chapter 705

APS is a program of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).

APS Districts

APS is organized into districts that serve different parts of Texas.

1100 APS Purpose and Objectives

APS January 2022

APS protects people age 65 or older and adults with disabilities from abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. APS does this by doing the following:

  • Investigating.
  • Providing, or arranging for, services necessary to alleviate or prevent further maltreatment.

APS completes the following actions:

  • Thorough review of intakes (initial reports) to accept, rather than exclude, reports that will lead to investigations of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.
  • Timely and thorough investigations to determine the validity of allegations of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
  • Comprehensive assessments and identification of root causes of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. These help APS to thoroughly understand each client’s overall situation.
  • Comprehensive service planning.

APS also does the following:

  • Provides preventive and supportive services that come from community involvement in the protection of people age 65 or older and adults with disabilities.
  • Develops resources and agreements to help families before abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation occurs.
  • Works cooperatively with other DFPS programs, other state and local government agencies, and the private and volunteer sectors.

1200 APS Clients’ Rights

APS January 2022

Each APS client has a right to do the following:

  • Refuse protective services, unless abuse or neglect is a potential threat to the client’s life and the client lacks the capacity to consent to protective services.
  • Participate in, and be consulted about, all decisions concerning the client’s welfare, if able to do so.
  • Choose the least restrictive of the alternatives available for meeting the client’s needs.
  • Refuse medical treatment that conflicts with the client’s religious beliefs or practices, even if a medical or mental health professional has determined that the client lacks the capacity to consent to protective services.
  • Have a court-appointed attorney ad litem to represent the client’s interests at any proceedings related to an emergency order for protective services (EOPS).

1210 Cultural Sensitivity

APS January 2022

APS considers cultural issues when conducting investigations or providing protective services. APS provides protective services in a culturally competent manner.

Each APS specialist adapts practices and skills to fit the needs of each client in the client’s cultural context.


Culture is a learned pattern of customs, beliefs, values, and behaviors that meet the following criteria:

  • They are socially acquired and transmitted through symbols, rituals, and events.
  • They convey widely shared meanings among members of the culture.

Culture includes food, traditions, celebrations, language, relationships, ideas, and lifestyle choices.

Cultural Competence

Cultural competence is the ability of a person, agency, or organization to be effective in working with people from different racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.

1211 Conducting Culturally Competent Casework

1211.1 Interviews

APS January 2022

The APS staff member does the following when conducting interviews:

  • Addresses interviewees using formal titles (for example, Mr., Mrs., or Ms.), unless the interviewee directs otherwise.
  • Uses a formal demeanor and is respectful of cultural customs.
  • Avoids conversation that suggests familiarity or lack of respect.
  • Is aware of the staff member’s personal limitations related to cultural characteristics. Lack of knowledge, stereotyping, prejudices, and other incorrect beliefs about a person’s culture can negatively affect judgment and make an investigation less reliable.
  • Asks for clarification of cultural issues when necessary, by consulting with an expert or cultural guide.
  • Communicates clearly, avoiding idioms, slang expressions, acronyms, and professional jargon.
  • Stays alert for nonverbal signs of discomfort or embarrassment and redirects the interview as appropriate.
  • Stays alert for the possibility that appropriate interpreter services may be needed. See 1220 Interpreter Services for Principals.
  • Is aware that personal knowledge of and experience with a specific client group do not always apply to all people from that group. Each person’s personality traits and personal history are as important as the person’s culture, and the staff member takes these factors into account.
  • Remembers that some people are distrustful of other cultures. This distrust may be a result of negative personal experiences or may reflect attitudes that members of the culture share.
  • Conducts interviews at a slower pace and engages in polite preliminary social conversation before addressing investigation issues, if necessary, to build trust and rapport.
  • Consults with a cultural guide or professional from the client’s community to clarify confusing information, determine how to proceed, or gain access to needed information or people.
  • Remembers that certain cultural groups have had negative experiences with government agencies and fear them. The staff member is careful to be empathetic and respectful, emphasizing the helping role of APS rather than its authority as a government agency.
  • Accepts the person’s perspective and avoids challenging the customs specific to the person’s culture (for example, the use of curanderos, a type of faith healer, among some Hispanics).
1211.2 Service Planning

APS January 2022

The APS specialist does the following during service planning:

  • Uses resources in the client’s community to resolve the client’s problem.
  • Develops a service plan that reflects the client’s culture, unless doing so puts the client at risk of serious harm or death.
  • Makes an effort to learn about resources targeted to specific client populations. The APS specialist offers the client resources that are targeted for the client’s group whenever such services are available (for example, an ethnic meal site).
1211.3 Selection of Service Providers

APS January 2022

The APS specialist does the following when choosing service providers:

  • Makes sure that a person who can adequately communicate with the client provides services. Translation (using a human translator or other means) can occur if the service provider does not speak the client’s language.
  • Recognizes that a client who has experienced discrimination may be reluctant to accept services from people outside the client’s cultural group.
  • Develops a rapport and a trusting relationship with the client to reassure the client that the service provider will act respectfully. In some cases, the client is more likely to accept the service or intervention if the APS specialist or a cultural guide is present during the first contact with the service provider.
1211.4 Use of Cultural Strengths

APS January 2022

Each APS staff member does the following:

  • Recognizes that all cultures have strategies for social organization, customs, and coping mechanisms that may work well but also may seem strange to people outside the culture.
  • Recognizes that certain cultural characteristics are strengths and uses them in the service planning process.

See also Cultural Competency in Service Delivery in 10100 Service Delivery Goals.

1220 Interpreter Services for Principals

APS April 2023

DFPS operating policy CD-2007.03 Language Services Policy addresses interpreter services for principals (people with a significant role in a case) who need communication assistance. The operating policy includes DFPS policy and state and federal guidelines that direct the APS specialist when a client or other principal has one or more of the following communication-related characteristics:

  • Limited English proficiency (LEP).
  • Sensory impairment (such as a visual impairment or a hearing impairment).
  • Speaking impairment.
  • Neurological or developmental disability (such as autism spectrum disorder).

APS makes sure a principal with any of the communication-related characteristics listed above understands all significant APS actions at each of the following stages of protective services, if applicable:

  • Investigation.
  • Case planning and service delivery, including the use of purchased client services.
  • Judicial proceedings. (The court may provide accommodations, but APS provides them if the court does not.)
  • Temporary and permanent placements.

A principal has the right to interpreter services, regardless of the circumstances of the case.

Interpreter services are not a direct client service. APS does not use purchased client services (PCS) funds to pay for them. The APS Contracts staff does not make contracts for these services or process payment.

For more information about interpreter services, see the DFPS Language Services Guide on the DFPS intranet.

Impartiality of Interpreters

When interviewing a principal, the APS staff member uses one of the following people to interpret:

  • A trained, professional interpreter.
  • An APS staff member who is fluent in the principal’s preferred method of communication.

The APS staff member makes sure the interpreter has no interest or role in the case. A family member of a principal should not serve as an interpreter, except at the specific request of the client.

Documentation for Communication-Related Characteristics

The APS specialist documents a principal’s communication-related characteristics (LEP, sensory or speaking impairments, or neurological or developmental disability) in the Person Characteristics section of the Person Detail page in IMPACT.

The APS specialist documents reasonable efforts to provide accommodations when a client or other principal is unable to communicate in English or has a communication disability on the Case Closure page. The APS specialist indicates the following information:

  • A principal’s preferred language or method of communication.
  • Information about the use of an interpreter or translator.
  • The interpreter’s or translator’s name and relationship.
  • The APS specialist’s fluency in the principal’s preferred language or method of communication, if no interpreter or translator is used.
  • Other efforts to provide accommodations.

Documentation Not Required for Some Hearing Impairments

If a principal has a hearing impairment, but the APS specialist is able to communicate with the principal without any accommodations, then documentation of a communication accommodation on the Case Closure page in IMPACT is not required.

The following actions are not accommodations:

  • The APS specialist speaking more loudly than usual.
  • The APS specialist sitting or standing closer to the principal.
  • The principal adjusting a hearing aid or other assistive device.

1300 Community Resources

APS January 2022

HRC §48.202 requires APS to work collaboratively with community organizations to provide protective services when APS validates allegations of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation and the client needs services. The APS specialist uses community resources to the fullest extent possible to meet the client’s needs.

A variety of community resources may be necessary to resolve the problems described in the client’s service plan. APS specialists, subject matter experts, and supervisors contact various community organizations, including the following:

  • Mental health facilities.
  • Public health facilities.
  • Advocacy groups.
  • Faith-based organizations.
  • Volunteer and service organizations.
  • Other social services.

The purpose of this contact is to do the following:

  • Inform other organizations of DFPS’s responsibility to provide protective services.
  • Obtain information about community services for APS clients.

APS Community Engagement Specialist (CES)

The CES supports the following:

  • Collaboration between APS and other service providers, professionals, and civic and volunteer organizations.
  • Interactions between APS and community organizations in the APS districts.

The CES interacts with a variety of people and groups, including the following:

  • Service providers.
  • Law enforcement.
  • Court advocates.
  • Representatives of professional organizations.
  • Community boards.
  • Volunteers and volunteer organizations.
  • Civic and religious groups.

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