“Rules don’t apply to us” the Adult Protective Services investigator said.
How is this possible in Colorado?
This statement confirmed another reliable source that leadership at Colorado Department of Human Services, who directed local APS staff that “You should do what you need to do. The rules, regulations and statutes do not apply to APS.”
Did you know that Adult Protective Services (APS) has unchecked power to make allegations, remove the at-risk person with disabilities and get emergency guardianship, before anything is substantiated? Our State Medicaid agency, Colorado Health Care Policy and Financing, has Directors Jennifer Martinez and Michelle Craig sign off on orders to seize clients with IDD, based only on allegations/suspicions with no due diligence or substantiation.
APS and HCPF have massive, unchecked power over at-risk adults. They can come seize a person, and not have to prove anything. Unlike many other states, Colorado does not require a court order to pull a client from placement.
They don’t have to divulge anything, just like the KGB.
Once appointed, the guardian, usually APS, then makes all decisions, including access for family, medical treatment, and end of life decisions. The authorities also recently stated that "their interpretation of statutes exclude siblings from gaining guardianship".
Often the appointed guardian is also the APS Investigator- seems a blatant conflict of interest, but then again,"no rules, regulations or statutes apply to them". They believe they are above the law.
Can you imagine being a person with IDD at your day program, pulled into a room at your day program, with strangers who demand that you sign a paper that you don't understand, in order to leave the room? You then leave with strangers, go to a strange place they call your "new home", perhaps you are blaming yourself for causing this all? You miss your family and familiar home and people. Your own family now must provide 72 hour notice for a request to visit, praying that the provider allows it. Your world as you know it has ended. Stress, confusion and sadness are your new norm.
APS is demanding interviews with extended family, who are not involved in care, demanding identification and Social Security numbers. They call and knock on doors constantly. State employees are using their positions to pressure HCBS Medicaid providers to generate fictitious incident reports to trigger APS investigations against their targets for retribution.
Do you know the State looks at emergency room visits? Even the times that the doctor issues orders that you should go for after hours chronic care conditions? One family shared that their terminally ill loved one with IDD was nearly admitted against his will, because doctor wanted the patient with IDD deemed incompetent? Guess who called that family soon after? Yes, APS.
This is pure hell for the individuals with IDD, their family, and providers. This must change.
Will the lawmakers who gave the authority to the departments rectify this lack of understanding of legislative intent with the departments? Will the Governor who signed them into law, tell his appointed department directors to stop this arbitrary use of unchecked power? Or will it take legal action to rectify this civil rights injustice?
Why would APS, under the Division of Aging and Adult Services in Colorado Department of Human Services, do this?
It is a management tool used arbitrarily, as retribution, to instill fear, to create shame, to divide our community and isolate family members. Contact me if you have stories to share, you are not alone!
APS is supposed to protect those at risk. Instead they the perpetrators, inflicting harm, destroying relationships, ruining lives, and at worst, killing people if they die due to the stress and changes. It is all about power, not about protecting our most vulnerable. The end result is they are jeopardizing the health and safety of the IDD Population in Colorado.