Back in the spring of 2012, when DHS and the Oregon Health Authority created the Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations (OAAPI), our goal was to provide improved oversight and coordination for adult abuse investigations around the state. With a single focus, this office could provide much needed consistency and technical expertise to this important service.
Oregon’s front-line APS investigators work for many different organizations (DHS, OHA, county mental health and developmental disability programs, Area Agencies on Aging and others) and are responsible for conducting and coordinating protective services in response to reports of abuse and neglect of vulnerable Oregonians, including: adults over the age of 65; adults with physical disabilities; adults with developmental disabilities; adults with mental illness; and children receiving residential treatment services.
Leading all that work is a big job, and I am proud to say today that the goal we had when we created OAAPI is becoming the reality in all the ways we hoped it would:
- We are gathering, analyzing and publishing data, in many cases for the first time, about the complex issues of adult abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.
- No matter where you live in the state, you will get a more timely, thorough and consistent response to abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult or child that we serve.
- We hold perpetrators more accountable and more often are preventing or reducing the risk of harm to vulnerable citizens who live in licensed care settings or their own home.
- Stronger community partnerships are helping us ensure a more comprehensive approach to prevention efforts and abuse investigations.
This week, Oregon is hosting the 2014 National Adult Protective Services Association 25th Annual Conference. It is the first time Oregon has hosted this major national conference, which brings together the experts on protecting all vulnerable adults. It’s a tremendous honor to have the national conference here, and it’s also great recognition on the national stage for the work of OAPPI Director Marie Cervantes, her team at OAAPI, Oregon’s Elder Abuse Task Force, and the support of the Oregon legislature and Governor for critical investments in staff.
We believe every Oregon adult deserves to live in safety – free from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. We have a long way to go to achieve that vision. However, because of the work of OAAPI, investigators, APS Specialists and community partners across the state, we are getting closer to making that vision Oregon’s reality.
Thank you for the work you do and have a great week!