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Advocates Settle With State Over Adult Abuse Cases

Social service advocates and the state have settled a lawsuit over the investigation of reports of adult abuse.

Vermont Legal Aid and Disability Rights Vermont had sued the state over concerns that reports of abuse were not being responded to quickly enough and not investigated adequately.

Barbara Prine, lead attorney of Vermont Legal Aid, said since the lawsuit was filed in late 2011, the state office of Adult Protection Services has largely eliminated a backlog of abuse cases. But other issues remained.

“Problems continued in that credible allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation were not accepted for investigation.  I think in their last report, two thirds of the reports of abuse that came in, APS did not accept for investigation,” Prine explained.

She said the settlement reached with the state sets out a plan that requires the state to do a more thorough job of scrutinizing reports of abuse.

The agreement also calls on the state initiate an investigation within 48 hours of a report, as required by law.

Prine said the settlement addresses all of the deficiencies that were outlined in a consultant’s study conducted after the lawsuit was filed.

“This agreement tells the public that our leaders will do what they can to ensure that abuse of vulnerable adults is responded to quickly, appropriately and that protective services are provided when needed,” Prine says.

Prine says the settlement sets tough benchmarks to make sure the state remains in compliance.