Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Vulnerable Adult Initiative: Final Report 2008

Department of Social & Health Servives (DSHS)/ Adult Protection Services (APS) Protection Subgroup

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The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)/Adult Protection Services (APS) Subgroup took on the following issues identified at the June summit:

  • The inability or unwillingness of victims to protect themselves.
  • Lack of clear legal definitions across professions to adequately prosecute offenders.
  • Lack of a solid definition for what is considered “self neglect.”


1) Develop risk assessment instruments that are both reliable (with scores consistent over time) and valid (measuring what they are designed to measure). Effective risk assessment instruments would:

a) Assess the risk levels of vulnerable adults at APS intake.

b) Assess future risk levels and needed safeguards at the closure of APS cases.

The subgroup recommends legislation that would authorize the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to study risk assessment instruments and prepare a report to the Legislature.

2) Support a bill that would require APS to develop and maintain a publicly searchable database of perpetrators of the abandonment, abuse, neglect and exploitation of vulnerable adults that would:

a) Allow for the simple verification of whether a proposed caregiver or employee has an APS finding.

b) Require DSHS to develop a feasibility study on linking all DSHS perpetrator databases, thereby making them publicly accessible and promoting public accountability.

3) In order to better identify and assist victims, a formal review of the current legal definition of “vulnerable adult” is needed. Formal stakeholder group meetings should be held to consider these factors:

  • AARP/ages, 60+, 65+ or 66+ as a partial predictor of vulnerability
  • Hearing impairment
  • Vision impairment
  • Persons living with multiple sclerosis
  • Persons living with diabetes
  • Persons living with mental health issues
  • Persons suffering from substance abuse

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