Monday, June 4, 2007

Elder Abuse Funding Flat

State's aid to program unchanged for four years, while cases rise sharply.
By Judy Lin - Bee Capitol Bureau

A year ago, Sacramento County sheriff's deputies rescued a 77-year-old woman in the predawn hours from her home, where she had been beaten and held hostage.

After officers arrested her son and crime scene investigators collected evidence, county social worker David Van Brunt got to work: He helped the victim file an emergency restraining order, took more pictures once welts became more apparent on her chest and left arm, and stood by her side when she needed someone to fight for her.

"When David showed up, he was so knowledgable and so confident and so sure of himself, it gave her a comfort that I couldn't give her," said a relative, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution from the son. "He represented an agency that protected the elderly. They had the authority to do something."

Van Brunt is one of 28 field members of the county's Adult Protective Services Agency in the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency is responsible for protecting abused and neglected seniors and dependent adults in Sacramento County. In 2006, staff investigated 5,600 allegations, 17 percent for financial abuse, according to county documents.

But Van Brunt, local governments and welfare advocates say funding the agency has slipped lower and lower on the state's list of priorities even as caseloads grow.

Abridged >>

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