The Empire State Takes Steps to Protect Seniors from Abuse

Governor Cuomo announced that services for vulnerable adults at risk of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation will be improved through a new initiative

Talk about going big–New York’s Governor Cuomo is expanding services for seniors at risk of elder abuse with an $8.4 million package, combining state and federal funding.

MP900422370Governor Cuomo announced that services for vulnerable adults at risk of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation will be improved through a new initiative developed by the state’s Office of Victim Services and the Office for the Aging, named the Elder Abuse Interventions and Enhanced Multidisciplinary Teams Initiative.

The program will fund and support 23 existing multidisciplinary teams that are now fighting elder abuse and will establish additional teams to serve every county in the state by the fall of 2020, according to the website,longisland.com’s article, “Governor Cuomo Announces $8.4 Million To Combat Elder Abuse And Financial Exploitation Statewide.”

"New York remains steadfast in its commitment to protecting one of our most vulnerable populations and to holding those responsible accountable for their actions," Governor Cuomo said. "By expanding upon existing efforts to ensure we are able to serve every county in the state, we can prevent harm to vulnerable adults, reduce risk of exploitation and save lives."

Over the next three years, the Office of Victim Services will provide $2 million in federal funding each year, and the Office for the Aging will provide another $500,000 in state funding annually to create the E-MDT Initiative. The teams are staffed by professionals from aging services, adult protective, health care, financial services, criminal justice, victim assistance, mental health, and other disciplines. They will coordinate investigations and develop interventions to thwart elder abuse. The teams assist adults age 60 or older, who are at risk for harm or exploitation due to physical limitations, cognitive impairment or dementia and social isolation.

The Office for the Aging is working with Lifespan and Weill Cornell Medicine's NYC Elder Abuse Center to manage, monitor and distribute the funding this year. The funding will maintain and expand current enhanced multidisciplinary teams and create more teams to ensure that every county in the state is represented. The funds will also help to provide technical assistance and training; collect data; and provide teams with forensic accounting, geriatric psychiatry services, and community legal services, when appropriate for the cases they’re handling.

The federal funding lets the state use additional funds to support 23 existing multidisciplinary teams.

Chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Aging, Assembly Member Donna Lupardo said, "New York seniors deserve to age independently and with dignity. Unfortunately, this freedom is often threatened by criminals who target them for exploitation. By establishing and funding multidisciplinary teams in every county across New York, we will provide seniors with a powerful ally to help protect and support them. I would like to especially thank Governor Cuomo and all of my partners in state government for these important resources needed to reduce elder abuse."

Crime victims who were 60 or older filed more than 4,000 claims for assistance that were approved by the Office of Victim Services between 2015 and 2017. This is roughly 17% of the more than 23,000 claims awarded by the agency over that two-year period.

If the budget and the effort sounds oversized, it’s not. A state-funded study in 2011 found that for every single case of abuse reported to adult protective services or other authorities, there are 23.5 cases that are not reported. In addition, a 2016 study from the Office of Children and Family Services found that the financial exploitation costs vulnerable adults and the state at least $1.5 billion every year.

Reference: longisland.com (August 1, 2018) “Governor Cuomo Announces $8.4 Million To Combat Elder Abuse And Financial Exploitation Statewide”

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