Arbitrary Overreach by State Authorities 12/1/17 Colorado DHS State Board Testimony

   Reports are coming in from across Colorado showing Adult Protective Services are being misused as an arbitrary management tool. CCBs are training staff that "families are the main perpetrators of Abuse and Neglect against people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD)". It feels like a KGB Witch hunt.

   On Friday, December 1, 2017, Maureen Welch, made public comment on proposed rule changes at the State Board of Colorado Human Services. She testified to the experiences and information that have been shared. Adult Protective Services (APS) are state agencies, under auspices of Colorado Department of Human Services, and exist as county level entities.

   A reliable source at the Capitol has reported that leadership at the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) has told local authorities that “the State Statutes, Rules and Regulations do not apply to APS” and “to do what they need to do”. What appeared to be well-intended legislation to protect Coloradans with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) is being misused as a management tool and to gain guardianship. With guardianship, the decision making power, including for placement of Case Management and Direct Services, for people with IDD is centralized. 

   The intention of multiple pieces of legislation (SB15-109, HB17-1284, HB17-1253, HB15-1370 and SB17-254) may have been to benefit Coloradans with IDD but the result of this “perfect storm” is harming them.

  • Mandatory Reporters call APS just for a “suspicion”. Sometimes they call 911 and local law enforcement intervenes. These scenarios to justify a report to APS have been shared with me:
  • Parents and families, often aging, ill themselves and exhausted, have requested to be considered for an emergency 24/7 waiver slot (DD waiver), after caring for a challenging aging family member in their home for decades. Instead of being supported, their case manager or Community Centered Board (CCB) reports them to local Adult Protective Services for “suspected abuse and or neglect”.
  • Another family proactively and willingly filed to be considered for guardianship of their family member with IDD. Instead they now have their names turned over to authorities and are end up investigated for abuse and neglect by APS.
  • APS has harassed extended family members of the accused, demanding to see their identification, social security cards. They get multiple phone calls a day and have had people bang on their doors. All to interview them as extended family. This is unacceptable.
  • Use of provider client incidence reports to trigger APS investigation. Incident reports are being used by service providers to intentionally justify contacting APS. These have been from day program providers or other services. The triggering “incident” has included simply showing up with a dirty shirt (not uncommon if one drools or self-feeds). Others are for behavioral issues that have been regular for years. 
  • Case managers at CCBs are being “actively told in trainings” that families of IDD persons are “the main perpetrators of exploitation and neglect”. Case managers are grilling services providers, including residential, to gauge level of involvement by families. Even if a client is in residential services, APS has leveled charges of neglect by family to be able to award guardianship to another entity.
  • A family had a court date regarding allegations of abuse and neglect. They received an email from authorities stating that all the emails regarding the case were “Deleted by them”. They covered up their email trail. This family has complied with every request. This does not feel like America anymore. How is that allowed?

More to come on this important board meeting and APS topic in a several newsletters, stay tuned.
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