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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Adult Protective Services (APS)?

Adult Protective Services, under the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Aging & Adult Services, investigates allegations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable persons residing in private home settings, as well as any follow-up services provided by Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS) to those vulnerable persons as a result of the investigations.

What is a Vulnerable Person?

vulnerable person is defined in the Mississippi Vulnerable Persons Act as a person 18 years of age or older, or any minor whose ability to perform the normal activities of daily living, or to provide for his or her own care, protection from abuse, neglect, exploitation or improper sexual contact, is impaired due to:

  • mental, emotional, physical, or developmental disability or dysfunction.
  • brain damage.
  • the infirmities of aging.

The term "vulnerable person" also includes residents or patients, regardless of age, in a care facility.

How are reports made?

Report abuse of vulnerable persons living in the following settings to Adult Protective Services:

  • a private home setting (i.e., in his/her own home or the home of another person).
  • an unlicensed personal care home with three or fewer residents unrelated to the operator.
  • a home setting that does not require a license to operate under the Mississippi State Department of Health guidelines (i.e., boarding home).

What happens after the Centralized Intake Unit receives the report?

Reports received by the Centralized Intake Unit are electronically transmitted to a Adult Protective Services regional supervisor for the county where the alleged victim resides. The APS supervisor reviews the report and makes the screening decision for further handling. If the report meets criteria for an APS investigation, the supervisor assigns the report to an APS worker.

Where should care facility abuse/neglect reports be made?

Report abuse occurring within licensed care facilities (i.e., nursing homes, personal care homes), or unlicensed personal care homes with four or more residents unrelated to the operator to the Mississippi State Department of Health at 800-227-7308 or the Office of the Attorney General, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at 800-852-8341.

Under the Vulnerable Persons Act, who is considered as a mandated reporter?

The Vulnerable Persons Act mandates that any person, including but not limited to the following, who knows or suspects that a vulnerable person has been or is being abused, neglected or exploited, shall immediately file a report. This includes persons who are a:

  • Attorney, physician, osteopathic physician, medical examiner, chiropractor or nurse engaged in the admission, treatment or care of a vulnerable person.
  • Health professional or mental health professional.
  • Practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing.
  • Social worker, family protection worker, family protection specialist or other professional adult care, residential or institutional staff.
  • State, county or municipal criminal justice employee or law enforcement officer.
  • Human rights advocacy committee or long-term care ombudsman council member.
  • Accountant, stockbroker, financial advisor or consultant, insurance agent or consultant, investment advisor or consultant, financial planner, or any officer or employee of a bank, savings and loan, credit union or any other financial service provider.

Can a reporter remain anonymous?

Anonymous reports are accepted. However, any person or entity holding or required to hold a license as specified in Title 73, Professions and Vocations, Mississippi Code of 1972, shall be required to give their name, address and phone number in the report of the alleged abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Will the reporter's name be kept confidential?

Yes, the reporter's name is kept confidential by Centralized Intake.

What information should the reporter include in his/her report about the vulnerable person and the vulnerable person's circumstances?

To the extent possible, a report should contain, but not be limited to:

  • Name, age, race, sex, physical address and location of the vulnerable person.
  • Name, address and telephone number of the alleged perpetrator.
  • Name, address and telephone number of the caregiver, if different from the alleged perpetrator.
  • Whether or not the vulnerable person is self-neglecting.
  • Description of the neglect, abuse and/or exploitation.
  • Description of the person's impairment to perform the normal activities of daily living (meaning, what the person can or cannot do), care for to protect self from abuse, neglect or exploitation.
  • Potential danger to Adult Protective Services staff who may visit the home (i.e., firearms, drugs).

What is the statutory time frame for an investigation to be initiated by MDHS, APS?

Statutorily, investigations are required to be initiated within 48 hours if immediate attention is needed, or within 72 hours if vulnerable person is not in immediate danger, to determine whether the vulnerable person is in need of protective services and what services are needed. If an emergency exists, the reporter is advised to call local law enforcement.

What is the purpose of the investigation?

The purpose of the investigation is to determine the validity of the report and to assess the need for protective services. Services from the agency are intended to preserve the vulnerable person's rights with the least restrictive intrusion while maintaining his or her well-being.

Can protective services be forced upon an adult?

Protective services cannot be forced involuntarily upon a mentally capable vulnerable person.

Can MDHS criminally investigate and prosecute a perpetrator who has abused a vulnerable person?

No. MDHS does not conduct criminal investigations. However, MDHS files a preliminary report of its findings to the Office of the Attorney General, Vulnerable Adults Unit within 48 hours if immediate attention is needed, or within 72 hours if vulnerable person is not in immediate danger,to determine whether the vulnerable person is in need of protective services and what services are needed. MDHS makes additional reports as new information or evidence becomes available. The Vulnerable Adults Unit conducts criminal investigations and prosecutes the perpetrator who has abused, neglected or exploited a vulnerable person living in a private setting. Also, MDHS is required to file a report with the local district attorney’s office and the Attorney General’s Office when there is reasonable cause to believe that a caretaker or other person has abused, neglected or exploited a vulnerable person.

Call Vulnerable Person Abuse Hotline at 844-437-6282 to report abuse, neglect or exploitation of a vulnerable adult or click to make a non-emergency report. Call local law enforcement agency or 911 if the situation is a life threatening emergency.

Mississippi Department of Human Services
Division of Aging & Adult Services
601-359-4929 | 601-359-4577 | 800-948-3090
750 North State Street | Jackson, MS 39202

®2017 Mississippi Department of Human Services. All rights reserved.