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Advocates sue over backlog of Vt. elder abuse probes - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Advocates sue over backlog of Vt. elder abuse probes

Montpelier, Vermont - December 14, 2011

The state is not doing enough to protect vulnerable adults from abuse-- that's the allegation in a lawsuit filed Wednesday by Vermont Legal Aid and Disability Rights Vermont.

The advocates first raised this issue a year ago. They say Adult Protective Services has failed to respond in a timely manner to abuse allegations and is carrying a backlog of more than 300 cases.

Among the specific shortcomings-- a lack of emergency coverage on nights and weekends, and a case load for investigators that is twice the national standard. "Vulnerable adults are people incapable of protecting themselves from the nephew who steals the Social Security check or the caregiver who leaves the woman with physical and cognitive limitations sitting in her feces," said Barbara Prine of the Disability Law Project.

State officials did not respond to our requests for an interview. Back in June, they said they had put in place new procedures to help improve response time and eliminate the backlog. But they say a lack of funding limits what the agency can do.

The advocates for the elderly and disabled say Vermont should have a system in place for Adult Protective Services that functions at the same speed as Child Protective Services.

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