Among some of the key changes: the agency now has an accelerated process to ensure that cases are being handled in a timely fashion, and there are now additional checks to make sure staffers are properly documenting why a case decision was made. APS has developed a report to track data from an intake call to the date of initial face-to-face contact, and managers are trained to review this report monthly.
The initial audit found that law enforcement officers don’t report all cases of abuse to the agency. Officers said they preferred to handle cases themselves, either because they think Adult Protective Services is overworked or due to a negative experience they had with the agency.
APS has improved its outreach to law enforcement and other mandated reporters, or professionals who are required by law to report cases of abuse. The agency has also increased the number of trained officials in law enforcement who specialize in recognizing and responding to abuse cases. What’s more, supervisors and managers at Adult Protective Services are now evaluated on their outreach to mandated reporters.
And yet, the follow-up report found some areas for improvement.
For example, the initial audit also took aim at the way APS manages calls for help. The office only accepts calls from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. That can lead to delays for reports that come in at night and on weekends, when the agency’s website is the only way to report a call.
The follow-up report said APS still only accepts live calls from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. But the Department of Human Services, which oversees APS, said they have since changed the policy. Winton, the DHS spokesperson, said APS has expanded its hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and reporters are also able to submit a report online at any time.
The audit also found another major gap that needs legislative change: the 2020 audit found that some state agencies that serve adults with disabilities are not required to report abuse or exploitation cases to APS. For example, the 2020 audit found that the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, which serves approximately 35,000 adults with disabilities, only reported eight cases of abuse from fiscal year 2015 to 2018.
But no changes have been made to the law to classify their workers as mandatory reporters. The DHS spokesperson said in a statement that it is “actively working” on a legislative proposal to expand the list of mandated reporters.