Adult Protective Services extends HOPE for safety and well-being to vulnerable adults
Community Living, Aging and Protective Services (CAP) works in a myriad of spaces to serve elder Oklahomans and vulnerable adults to ensure their safety and well-being, while giving them opportunities to live independently and thrive. Adult Protective Services (APS), a unit within CAP, investigates allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable adults over age 18 in private residential settings and in long-term care facilities, and assists vulnerable adults who are no longer able to meet their own needs. APS receives referrals from various sources including private citizens, law enforcement, facilities or individuals who self-report.
Though the work of APS has long been known to foster HOPE and save lives, two recent stories from District 2, in southeastern Oklahoma, highlight the positive impacts APS staff make in their communities, along with their resilience and achievements.
Nikole Ford received a referral in March alleging that a mother was drugging and endangering her adult child, who had disabilities and relied on her for care. Ford requested the police be present as she made contact with the family, and they both observed drugs in plain view throughout the home. The alleged victim was transferred to the hospital where a toxicology screening confirmed the reports received, and the victim was able to receive the care they needed to safely recover. The officer and Ford presented their documentation to the local District Attorney, who forwarded the same for federal prosecution, and commended Ford for her excellent reports and writing, but, most importantly, her actions that likely saved this vulnerable adult’s life.
“It’s an overwhelming feeling to realize the impact APS has on vulnerable adults and ensuring their safety,” said Ford. “I worked this case like I work every other case I am assigned, I pour my heart and soul into reaching the least restrictive, safest plan. I’m beyond grateful for the community partners I work with.”
The local police chief also offered words of thanks for Ford’s life-saving actions.
“I’m very thankful for APS worker Ford’s professionalism, and her compassion to advocate for the victim in this matter,” said Valliant Chief of Police, David Carrell. “I know I’m speaking for Officer Franklin when I say we hope that other APS workers have the same drive and compassion that Ms. Ford showed in the case. It was an honor to work beside her. I hope that justice is served in this matter, but I also know that Ms. Ford’s actions most likely saved the life of a vulnerable adult. I commend her for her actions in this case.”
Also in March, Judit Schifferdecker received a report that a customer had been raped, but the perpetrator was not a service provider or caregiver, and the name of the perpetrator was listed as unknown. Schifferdecker was determined to ensure the customer’s safety, while also working to gain as much information about the attack as possible, so the perpetrator could be brought to justice. She regularly visited with the customer and then contacted law enforcement, assisting with identifying the perpetrator and motivating action on the case. Thanks to Schifferdecker’s persistence, law enforcement recently sent the case for prosecution to the District Attorney, protecting the customer and others from the perpetrator.
“I am proud to have served this client, not only to be able to be with them and offer support after such a traumatic ordeal, but also to be able to advocate for them with law enforcement and community partners and help bring the perpetrator to justice,” said Schifferdecker. “The work we do is important to ensure vulnerable victims do not fall through the cracks. I am honored to do this work and will do everything in my power to protect my clients.”
APS staff are dedicated advocates for their customers and fight daily to ensure no one falls through the cracks.
“Our APS workers have one of the toughest jobs in the state, but they are truly bringing hope to vulnerable people in our communities who have suffered from abuse, neglect, and exploitation,” said Jeromy Buchanan, CAP Director. “The work they do helps our most vulnerable populations remain safe and independent for as long as possible, which leads to a markedly better quality of life. I am incredibly proud of their work and the service they provide to their communities.”
If you suspect a vulnerable adult is the victim of abuse, neglect or exploitation, your report can make all the difference in their lives. Please submit a report online at https://www.ourokdhs.org/s/reportabuse, or call 1-800-522-3511.
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