County now has adult pro­tec­tive ser­vices

Pro­tec­tive ser­vices helps ad­dress needs of vul­ner­a­ble se­nior cit­i­zens

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - FRONT PAGE - By An­drew Cass acass@news-her­ @An­drewCassNH on Twit­ter

Lake County now has a ded­i­cated adult pro­tec­tive ser­vices unit thanks to funds from the se­nior ser­vices levy passed by county vot­ers last No­vem­ber.

There has been $300,000 al­lo­cated for 2018 to the Lake County De­part­ment of Job and Fam­ily Ser­vices for the unit. The funds will al­low for three ded­i­cated adult pro­tec­tive ser­vices so­cial work­ers and a su­per­vi­sor.

Adult pro­tec­tive ser­vices helps ad­dress the needs of vul­ner­a­ble se­nior cit­i­zens by work­ing to pre­vent, re­duce an rem­edy con­di­tions caus­ing en­dan­ger­ment while at­tempt­ing to max­i­mize the adult’s

in­de­pen­dence and self-de­ter­mi­na­tion.

It was rec­om­mended in an Oc­to­ber 2015 study com­mis­sioned by the county that they have so­cial work­ers ded­i­cated to adult pro­tec­tive ser­vices.

“At the time, those du­ties were spread amongst all of our so­cial work­ers,” Lake County Job and Fam­ily Ser­vices Di­rec­tor Matt Bat­tiato said. “They were do­ing both chil­dren ser­vices and adult pro­tec­tive ser­vices.”

Af­ter the rec­om­men­da­tion, the de­part­ment mod­i­fied its model. Bat­tiato said they tried to the best of their abil­ity to have ded­i­cated adult pro­tec­tive ser­vices so­cial work­ers, but that was not pos­si­ble due to the cost as­so­ci­ated with that. As is the case with child ser­vices, the state of Ohio does not ded­i­cate much money to adult ser­vices. The Lake County case­work­ers pri­mar­ily han­dling adult cases still had some child pro­tec­tive ser­vices cases.

The fund­ing al­lo­cated from the levy will al­low the de­part­ment to hire two new child pro­tec­tive ser­vices case work­ers to cover what the work­ers now ded­i­cated to adult ser­vices will be drop­ping.

“Elder abuse is of­ten re­ferred to as a silent epi­demic be­cause it is grossly un­der­re­ported and re­ceives lit­tle pub­lic at­ten­tion,” Lake County Se­nior Ser­vices Co­or­di­na­tor Alyea Bara­jas said

Lake County has an ag­ing pop­u­la­tion. About 25 per­cent of the county’s cur­rent pop­u­la­tion is 60 or older. By 2030, it’s pro­jected it will jump to 34 per­cent and would out­num­ber res­i­dent 20 years and younger.

Bara­jas said that as the se­nior pop­u­la­tion con­tin­ues to in­crease, so too does the like­li­hood of in­ci­dences of abuse, ne­glect and ex­ploita­tion of that group.

Com­mis­sioner Daniel P. Troy added there are scam artists at­tempt­ing to take ad­van­tage of se­niors, as well as fi­nan­cial and phys­i­cal abuses tak­ing place ei­ther by strangers or even fam­ily mem­bers.

“The peo­ple of this se­nior gen­er­a­tion are the folks that did so much over the years to make this such a great county,” Troy said. “It is im­per­a­tive that we strive wher­ever pos­si­ble to pro­tect the qual­ity and en­joy­ment of the re­main­der of their lives.”

The Lake County De­part­ment of Job and Fam­ily Ser­vices will reap­ply for fund­ing from the levy in 2019.

This was the sec­ond ma­jor an­nounce­ment re­gard­ing se­nior ser­vices levy funds since vot­ers ap­proved the 0.5-mill re­newal levy with an ad­di­tional 0.3 mill levy.

In April, it was an­nounced that the West­ern Re­serve Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion has taken over the hous­ing re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion for Lake County se­nior cit­i­zens. The pro­gram had pre­vi­ously been han­dled by the Lake County Coun­cil on Ag­ing.

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