We got their attention!
February 10, 2018
By Maureen Welch, Volunteer Activist
Adult Protective Services' (APS) lawless operations are tearing apart loving families/living situations with ridiculous accusations, ignoring doctors' orders, gaining APS emergency guardianship when family/friends are interested and stealing disabled people's liberty as well as their civil rights. Chairman of the State CDHS Board, David Ervin, CEO of The Resource Exchange cautioned CDHS and APS to have an "an open and inclusive stakeholder process" with rule making and his desire "to underscore the need for caution".
On February 2, 2018 in Fort Collins, the State Board of Colorado Human Services met to promulgate rules to implement statutory changes from legislation. The State Board heard justifications from Mindy Kemp, Director, Division of Aging and Adult Services. She summarized the January 25, 2018 stakeholder meeting, held after community requests to review the Proposed Rule Packets.
The February 2 discussion was rich in content, dialogue and desire to grasp the severe negative unintended consequences of this whole APS debacle. It is clear that the State APS unit has many issues and may even be promulgating rules that are not required by statute.
Big Progress at Feb 2 meeting
The State Board heard testimony by two volunteer stakeholders on final reading of APS rule packet 1 and agreed that the collection of Social Security numbers at initial contact was concerning. After discussion, they removed the social security number from the rule in the motion, second and voted affirmatively on the rest of the rule packet #1. Members agreed there are other ways to identify people than to collect that personal data which poses security risks since it is shared in reports.
A robust discussion followed on the initial reading of APS rule packet #2. The overall tone from both stakeholders, as well as the Board, was great concern about due process and severity levels. The Department staff (Mark Wester, Mindy Kemp, Peg Rodgers) gave answers which were dismissive, defensive and justified rules based on Child Welfare rules, even though statutes are not requiring such rules for either Child Welfare or APS. Mr. McCombs was there from the Attorney General's office as well for clarification.
Board member Bernard Buescher, a former state legislator and the former Secretary of State, stated he was “very concerned about statutes as roadblocks to constitutional rights”. He also shared that this state supervised, but county implemented APS conundrum was the "toughest discussion" since he has been on the board.
LaPlata County Commissioner and State Board member Julie Westendorff questioned the absence of a training requirement addressing cultural competency/disability specific approaches. She astutely noted the difference between an at risk adult and minor in child welfare system.
Board member Ms. Taye-Channell, of Florence Crittenton Services, did sense that there was a lack of trust in the community and asked, “what can we do to build training to build trust in the community?" She later expanded and shared, "Perform on what you say you will do… that is how to build trust." She also asked if persons are given a sheet with their rights when an investigation begins including due process, answer was "no". There is actually no notification of the start of an investigation in rule, only notification of substantiation.
Board member Stephen Johnson, a Larimer County Commissioner and former State Legislator, had concerns about the APS investigators also gaining emergency guardianships. He noted that courts indeed make the decision but "they look to APS for direction". Ms. Kemp agreed. A discussion followed about whether people would be "reluctant to file complaints due to fear of retribution" and members wanted specifics on the number of cases of emergency guardianships initiated by APS.
Board member Connie Rule, of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Denver made valuable analysis about the pitfalls of using Child Welfare as a model for much of the proposed rules for APS. "Encourage us not to use an existing system because it has been in place. While we don’t want to reinvent the wheel, sometimes it is time to reinvent the wheel."
APS #2 Packet also Delayed In n response to stakeholder request at the February 2, 2018 State Board meeting, CDHS ("The Department") is planning additional stakeholder sessions. They will delay second reading of APS #2 packet until April. The department will provide education and information about APS as a program, review the current rule packet under consideration and answer any questions stakeholders have at that time. The Department plans to invite any State Board members who would like to attend these sessions.
The Department is preparing a presentation for the Board to review the components of the APS program and the manner in which it functions. CHDS will make presentation of APS program at the April 2018 meeting, during the ‘work session’ prior to the beginning of the meeting. The purpose is to provide additional context and an understanding of the APS program.
The Department will delay the second reading of APS rule packet #2 until their April 6th, 2018 meeting in Kit Carson County, to afford enough time to have robust stakeholder meetings. Ms. Welch requested the board consider a standing state board meeting accommodation for remote telephone public comment for those unable to attend due to caregiving, disability, work or transportation. She is waiting to hear back on that.
The Department will provide the board with an APS update during the Board of Human Services meeting March 2nd in Denver. More information to follow.
Stakeholders requested the Board and Department consider how to make a "safe space" for the community to share experiences without fear of retaliation or judgement. As of this newsletter, there was no comment on this request.
Links and more info
Links and more info
• APS Rule draft packets 1 & 2 is available to review
• Link to the Colorado Dept. of Human Service State Board page: here
• Scroll down page halfway until to Rule Making Session Agendas & Minutes
• Choose 2018-02-02 Agenda and Documents
• APS rule packet one and two are labeled document 3 & 4 for the Board Meeting.
• Audio recording (sorry, very poor quality) is also on the same link as agenda and documents.
• Additional APS Rule packets are being drafted as well. APS Task Group meets 9-12 Noon on Wednesday February 14 at 1575 Sherman Street if you are interested to come in-person. Also conference call Information: Dial 302-202-1110, access code 915771. Webinar Link: here
• APS Task Group documents are here
Suggestions if APS shows up:
• make sure you are very clear, state your name and say you need your lawyer with you before any conversation.
• ok to let them see the at risk adult and confirm no one is in direct harm
• do not allow them to isolate, talk to or interview anyone, especially the persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities
• this is for providers as well as families, there is a pattern of pressuring PASAs to allow private access to persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities
• immediately call your lawyer or go get "lawyered up".
• it is best speak with APS only with your legal representation present. It is your right.
• better safe than sorry!
• you do need legal representation, even when you have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide, is not advised to talk without counsel.
• current APS actions are lawless, and any voluntary cooperation with APS, although it seems the right thing to do, can and likely will be twisted around and used against you
• The stakeholder meetings will be determined and shared in this newsletter. If you have more information to share, contact with a reply to this email.
• The delay and time for the board to learn and reflect, is progress in slowing down the train, before the wreck.
• Have hope and get involved to make sure the system has due process and safeguards for those falsely substantiated as perpetrators.
• Make sure the focus is on getting the bad players, and protecting at risk adults.
• If you have a story, contact me. I can protect identifiers when I share your story.
• Come out of the shadows don't let shame or fear isolate you. If you have been falsely accused and unsure what to do, you are not alone.
• Feel free to forward this email.