Partners Collaborate to Address Elder Abuse in Alamance County
Family Justice Center of Alamance County | January 3, 2017
Burlington, NC –Alamance County is one of ten counties, nationwide, to receive a grant from the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) to address elder abuse in our community. The Elder Justice Project advances an ongoing effort that began in 2013 by the Department of Social Services, the District Attorney’s office and local law enforcement agencies to establish a system of response to elder abuse that ensures the most effective and efficient approach to helping seniors who become victims of abuse.
The funding of $350,000 is for a three-year period and will be used to combat elder abuse and violence against older adults. Grant funds will support a three-year project aimed at enhancing support to older victims of violence, through specialized training for service providers, law enforcement, and judicial officials and through the creation of a multi-disciplinary team that will advance services and response for cases of elder abuse. Having a coordinated response from the multiple providers that are involved in most elder abuse cases is a demonstrated model that has improved services in other areas, such as domestic violence and sexual assault.
The collaboration involves multiple partners. Primary partners are Family Abuse Services of Alamance County, the Adult Protective Services unit of DSS, Elon Police Department, and the District Attorney’s office. Alamance County Government is the applicant organization and fiscal agent and the Family Justice Center is the implementing agency. Alamance County DSS will be the responsible county department for the grant. In addition to the above, Impact Alamance provided the grant writer for this project and commitments have been obtained from numerous service providers who are dedicated to confronting the issue of elder abuse in our community.
Tracy Turner has been hired to direct the effort. Tracy has a long history with Alamance County and facilitated initial efforts that eventually resulted in the creation of the Family Justice Center. She also served as the Director of the NC Department of Social Services Directors Association where she helped create and develop a system of response for child welfare. Ms. Turner has years of experience supporting NC communities with initiatives to coordinate services to victims of violence.
“We are very proud of the initiatives that have come about as a result of the Family Justice Center and the collaboration that it has fostered among agencies. It is our honor to serve as the applicant agency for an effort that will help the seniors in Alamance County” remarked County Manager, Craig Honeycutt.
Elder abuse victims face unique obstacles in getting help and the services they need, due to isolation, fear of losing their caregiver and threat of being placed in a nursing home, as well as embarrassment that the perpetrator is someone who they trusted. Many incidents of elder abuse go unreported and underreported. For example, some victims may report financial exploitation while choosing not to report physical and sexual abuse due to feelings of shame and/or fear. It is imperative that appropriate services are available, accessible, and comprehensive.
Cindy Brady, Director of the Family Justice Center, states “The incidence of elder abuse is growing and we must have a system to provide comprehensive services, very similar to the system we now have in place for intimate partner violence. Having diverse partnerships at the table and on the same page is what makes this all work.”
Lynn Rousseau, Director of Family Abuse Services, agrees and will have an advocate who will specialize in elder abuse. She states “It makes sense to expand services to meet this need within an agency that has expertise with domestic violence and victim services.” LaTawnya Hall, Program Manager for Adult and Family Services, added “The partnerships that have already been generated with this effort is going to allow Adult Protective Services to expand their capacity and provide even more effective services.
As the lead law enforcement agency. Cliff Parker “is honored to be a part creating a consistent and systematic way to address the growing number of cases in Alamance.” District Attorney Pat Nadolski commented, “Having all stakeholders involved and at the table makes it more probable that we will have what we need to successfully prosecute. Many of these cases have multiple layers so it makes sense to have a multi-disciplinary team to address all of those layers.”