Adult Protective Services



Adult Protective Services (APS) is dedicated to serving vulnerable adults. We investigate reports about abuse, abandonment, neglect, exploitation and self-neglect of vulnerable adults in Washington State. We collaborate with other agencies to offer protective services as needed. Our goal is to promote lives free of harm while respecting individual choice.

Recognize the Signs of Adult Abuse

  • Neglect and Self-Neglect:
    • Lack of food and water
    • Dirty clothing and changes in personal hygiene
    • Unusually messy home
    • Lack of Medication
  • Financial Exploitation:
    • Basic needs not met
    • Bills not paid
    • Unexplained financial changes
    • Unusual purchases
  • Physical Abuse:
    • Bruises, black eyes, and welts
    • Broken bones, cuts, and sprains
    • Sudden changes in behavior
    • Caregiver refusal to leave adult alone
  • Mental Abuse:
    • Threatening significant harm
    • Derogatory names, insults, profanity, and ridicule
    • Harassment and humiliation
  • Sexual Abuse:
    • Unusual bruising on thighs and chest
    • Unexplained STDs
    • Withdrawn from social interactions and panic attacks
    • Unexplained behavior changes

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Who is considered a vulnerable adult?

The State of Washington defines a vulnerable adult by law as a person who is:

  • 60 years of age or older who has the functional, mental, or physical inability to care for himself or herself; or
  • Found incapacitated under chapter 11.88 RCW; or
  • Who has a developmental disability as defined under RCW 71A.10.020; or
  • Admitted to any facility; or
  • Receiving services from home health, hospice, or home care agencies licensed or required to be licensed under chapter 70.127 RCW; or
  • Receiving services from an individual provider; or
  • Who self-directs his or her own care and receives services from a personal aide under chapter 74.39 RCW.

Not sure if someone is considered a vulnerable adult? Report your concerns anyway. We’ll take care of the rest.

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What is the process for APS investigations?

  1. Intake: When you make a report online, in person, or by phone or fax, our intake specialists gather information to begin the investigative process.
  2. Assignment: Each intake report is reviewed to determine if APS has jurisdiction and assigns an investigation time frame.
  3. Investigation: Investigations include thorough interviews, observations, record reviews, and coordination with law enforcement and other agencies as needed.
  4. Offer Services: We work with community partners to offer protective services, such as emergency shelter, food, medical care, personal assistance, counseling, and more.

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Adult Protective Services does not have the authority to:

  • Remove a client against his or her own will
  • Detain or arrest an individual
  • Act as guardianship services
  • Act as emergency response (such as law enforcement or EMT)
  • Force people to accept services

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Additional Information

  • Help Protect Vulnerable Adults: Learn how simple actions can help protect vulnerable adults from abuse and neglect.
  • Mandatory Reporters: Learn who is considered a mandatory reporter, where to get training and how to make a report with APS.

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