Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Vulnerable Adult Initiative: Final Report 2008

The Next Steps to Protect Vulnerable Adults

The Summit work groups’ Legislative Recommendations. After developing and refining proposals for nearly a year, summit work groups reconvened in May 2008 and suggested that all or some of the following recommendations be proposed to the legislature in 2009:

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  • Add mandatory sentencing enhancements (with medical exceptions) for crimes against victims over age 65 or who meet the definition of a vulnerable adult in Chapter 74.34 RCW, Abuse of Vulnerable Adults Act.
  • Make employees of financial institutions mandatory reporters of the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults.
  • Strengthen protections for vulnerable adults by clarifying definitions in the vulnerable adult statutes and by improving coordination between reporters of abuse, law enforcement and Adult Protective Services in the relevant RCW (74.34).
  • Allow for greater public disclosure of APS information.
  • Create a publicly searchable database of perpetrators of vulnerable adult abuse and neglect.

During the coming months, the AGO will work with the Governor’s Office, The Department of Social and Health Services, other state agencies and the Legislature to develop omnibus vulnerable adult legislation based on the recommendations of summit and work group participants. Leaders and contributors to the Vulnerable Adult Summit and work groups created as a result of the summit will play key roles advising legislators, testifying in committee hearings and participating in lobbying efforts. Our goal is to have a comprehensive bill signed by the governor in 2009.

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Statewide Coalition. The AGO will facilitate meetings between members of local vulnerable adult task forces, The Department of Social and Health Services and other stakeholders to investigate the feasibility of creating a permanent statewide coalition for the prevention of vulnerable adult abuse, criminal mistreatment, neglect and financial exploitation. This coalition will continue to monitor emerging issues impacting vulnerable adults, while advising law enforcement, legislators and care providers on strategies to address those issues. Our goal is to have a permanent coalition in place by the end of 2009.

2009 Legislation

SB 5639/HB 1788: Vulnerable Adults (pdf ): The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services receives reports about possible abuse, abandonment, neglect, self-neglect or financial exploitation of vulnerable adults from “mandated reporters,” professionals who are legally required to report their concerns and from family members and other concerned citizens.

During 2007, DSHS’s Adult Protective Services (APS) received 13,551 reports of possible abuse, abandonment, neglect, self-neglect and financial exploitation. DSHS’s Residential Care Services (RCS) received more than 29,000 reports, which included allegations of possible abuse, abandonment, neglect or financial exploitation of vulnerable adults as well as concerns about the quality of life or quality of care being provided in licensed and certified long-term care settings.

The proposed legislation includes a number of measures designed to increase penalties imposed on individuals who commit crimes against vulnerable adults, strengthen laws involving vulnerable adults and increase the ability of DSHS and law enforcement to investigate and share information about investigations with each other and the public.

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