Adult Protective Services Advisory Panel meets in Tampa

10/02/07 Seán Kinane
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In August, Department of Children and Families Chair Bob Butterworth established the Adult Protective Services Advisory Panel.

Today, the 17-member panel held its first meeting at the DCF Regional Headquarters in Tampa.

Much of the DCF's focus is on the welfare of children, but this panel is tasked with making sure that adults can get the most of the department’s services. For example, DCF investigates cases of abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disabilities and the elderly.

Rebecca Morgan is the Boston Asset Management Faculty Chair in Elder Law at Stetson University College of Law and also chairs the Adult Protective Services Advisory Panel.

One of the topics the Advisory Panel addressed in this meeting, was DCF budget requests relating to improving Adult Protective Services. Proposals were made for hiring additional protective investigation staff, registered nurse specialists, and quality assurance staff, as well as for technology purchases, and funding for moving qualified people off three waiting lists and into the care they need.

The Advisory Panel also suggested a long list of topics they hoped to address in future meetings.

No members of the public addressed the panel during the one-hour scheduled time for public comment.

Mel Grossman is an administrative judge of the Probate Division of the Seventeenth Judicial circuit in Ft. Lauderdale and is a member of the Advisory Panel.

udge Grossman said that he felt the Advisory Panel would make progress on issues of Adult Protective Services.

Preston Mighdoll, chief of eonomic crime and crimes against the elderly in the Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office, agrees that funding for Adult Protection Services should be increased.

In the Aug. 30 press release announcing the creation of the Advisory Panel, DCF Secretary Bob Butterworth said that his department needs to “properly protect and provide for our adult population, especially the elderly and disabled.”

But during the meeting, Advisory Panel member Sharon D’Eusanio took exception to such language. D’Eusanio is assistant director for the Division of Victim Services and Criminal Justice Programs for Attorney General Bill McCollum.

She was blinded when she was a victim of a violent crime in 1980. D’Eusanio said that the language used to refer to people with disabilities by the DCF and in some state and federal legislation needs to be corrected.

The Adult Protective Services Advisory Panel has not scheduled its next meeting, but it will again be held at the DCF SunCoast Region Headquarters on North Florida Avenue in Tampa.

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