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Law Changes to APS Program Effective Next Month

Law changes enacted in the last biennial budget impacting the adult protective services (APS) program take effect next month. Effective on September 29, statutory and rule changes will impact both who is a mandatory reporter of suspected elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, and what types of suspected exploitation counties will be responsible to investigate, among other changes.

Notable law changes include an expansion of the definition of “exploitation” in APS law, which will likely a mean a significant increase in the number of APS cases counties must screen in and investigate. As enacted, ORC 5101.60(J) modifies county responsibilities to investigate possible cases of exploitation committed by a “person” rather than a “caregiver”. It also speaks to exploitation which occurs in one or more transactions. ODJFS has filed rules which define a “person” for purposes of this definition to be “an individual who is known to the adult subject through a familial and/or social relationship”. We appreciate this pragmatic approach to defining a “person” so counties are clear they are not to investigate every email or Facebook scam that targets an adult over the age of 60.

The law changes also require ODJFS to develop and make available educational materials for individuals who are mandated reporters. Earlier this week, directors received an electronic copy of these manuals from OFC Deputy Director Carla Carpenter. The materials include a general guide to understanding APS for Ohioans, as well as specific guides geared toward financial services professionals, legal and law enforcement professionals, and medical professionals.

ODJFS is sending the guides to the oversight entities of the mandated reporters along with instructions on how individuals or employers can access electronic and hard copies. If your county receives any requests to provide an overview or training for mandated reporters, you are welcome to send the request to the ODJFS program staff or to share such information at the county level. Counties are not expected to be responsible for the distribution of these documents but referring interested community members to these electronic guides may be useful.

New mandated reporters include: pharmacists and dialysis technicians; employees of hospitals, health departments, and community mental health agencies; county human society agents; firefighters, ambulance drivers, and first responders including EMTs and paramedics; officials employed by a local building department to conduct home and residential building inspections; CPAS, real estate brokers or agents; notaries, bank employees, investment advisors and financial planners.

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