But funding for assistance and prevention programs remains scarce, despite increasing reports of abuse. Marie-Therese Connolly, director of the Washington, D.C.-based group Life Long Justice program, which advocates for justice on behalf of older adults, told the committee that Congress has yet to appropriate "a single cent to implement the Elder Justice Act enacted in 2010 or the 2006 elder justice amendments to the Older Americans Act."
The situation is not much better in the nation's cash-strapped states, where budget cuts and layoffs loom. According to a report released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office, "Elder Justice: Stronger Federal Leadership Could Enhance National Response to Elder Abuse," state Adult Protective Services (APS) programs around the country face growing caseloads, dwindling resources and inadequate funding.
The report said federal leadership was lacking in efforts to provide state agencies with information on effective solutions, legal and otherwise, to resolve abuse cases. It called collaboration between APS officials, law enforcement officials, prosecutors and financial institutions inadequate.
AARP's Public Policy Institute has just released a separate report looking at states' ability to manage increased demand for Adult Protective Services. It found that financial exploitation was behind increased calls to APS in 24 states and the District of Columbia last year. But the growing reports of abuse did not result in added funding. Most of those states either maintained or decreased spending for the programs, PPI found.
Because of the lack of federal funding, Adult Protective Services relies mostly on state and local resources, said Kathleen Quinn, executive director of the National Adult Protective Services Association.