On September 3, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration for Community Living (ACL) awarded roughly $85.4 million authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) to 55 state and territorial Adult Protective Services (APS) programs. Along with $93 million provided by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, the funds represent the first time the federal government has provided formula grants to state APS programs and the largest ever federal contribution to these programs. In some states, county governments are responsible for administering APS programs and contributing local dollars to these efforts, making us a key beneficiary of the newfound federal support.
APS is a social service program provided by state, territorial and local governments to support older adults and adults with disabilities experiencing abuse, neglect or exploitation. Most APS programs are state administered and operated, but some delegate this responsibility to counties or contract with local entities such as Area Agencies on Aging. Recognizing that limited resources led to APS programs being chronically underfunded and unable to keep pace with our rapidly aging population, the federal government in 2010 enacted the Elder Justice Act to authorize federal resources to support state and local APS programs. However, prior to the investments made under COVID relief bills Congress had yet to appropriate funding for this purpose.
Counties applaud the availability of dedicated federal resources to support APS programs during the increased financial strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of the public health emergency on vulnerable older adults. However, we continue to call on the federal government to meet its commitment to provide annual funding to state and local APS programs.