News : State Establishes Call Center, One Number to Report Adult Maltreatment
Mille Lacs County, MN, July 8, 2015 -- Part of pending legislative action for months, July 1 marked the official rollout day of the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center (MAARC), which provides one, central number for the entire state that people can call to report suspected abuse of vulnerable adults: 1-844-880-1574.
Mille Lacs County Adult Protection Supervisor Charlotte "Char" Kohlgraf said about the new way of reporting, "It gives people a place to go 24 hours per day."
In the past people needed to call the county social services department during business hours. She said all 87 counties in Minnesota were taking the reports, and probably not all of them used the same procedures.
The center enables people to call anytime and creates continuity and consistency among reports. Kohlgraf said it will also expedite reporting because everything goes through one, central agency for collection and processing.
She gave "rough estimates" of the numbers of vulnerable adults in Mille Lacs County judging by approximately 175 reports made in 2014, and the county was the "lead investigative agency in about 75 of those cases. Minnesota established the Vulnerable Adult Act in 1981 as a means to protect people after a mute, bedbound, woman victim was raped. The law has continued to evolve since then.
In addition to the central number everyone can call, the MAARC includes a Web-based form for mandatory reporters such as doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers, licensed professionals, law enforcement and other such professionals or professionals’ delegates that is available 24 hours daily.
Kohlgraf explained the technical definitions of "vulnerable adult," several of which involve people cared for in licensed facilities by licensed professionals. Generally a vulnerable adult is a person 18 years of age or older who has a mental, physical or emotional infirmity that prevents them from providing for their own care and safety. The definitions cover anyone who is a resident of or receiving services from some type of licensed facility, as well as those with age-related disability, frailty or memory issues.
The website offers elder abuse statistics that say one of every 10 senior citizens will be the victim of some kind of abuse and that the financial exploitation of seniors results in the loss of $2.9 billion annually.
These are the three, main types of vulnerable-adult maltreatment the state defines in more detail at its website:
• Abuse of a physical, emotional or sexual nature including the use of restraints and involuntary seclusion or punishment, slapping, kicking and hitting.
• Neglect including failure to give necessary food, shelter, clothing, medical care or supervision.
• Financial exploitation including use of the person’s money that is not to their benefit, theft and the withholding of funds.
When a call comes into the MAARC, operators create a report and send it to the lead investigative agency: 1) law enforcement if there has been criminal activity or a suspicious death; 2) county social services if the person has immediate protection needs; 3) to the state department of health if the person is under the care of a person or facility licensed by that agency such as a hospital, nursing home or home-care provider; and 4) the state department of human services if the person is cared for in a setting licensed by DHS such as a chemical-dependency treatment center or an adult day or foster care.
After people submit a report, it is routed to the proper investigative authorities. Average individuals can make reports anonymously, but mandatory reporters usually cannot. Sometimes the person who made the report will be contacted by the responsible agency, which issues a finding once the investigation is complete.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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