Elder Abuse

Issue: Elder Abuse

Impact:

The numbers of reports of elder abuse is increasing and are being filed in state courts.

Position:

State Court Leaders support legislation to assist state courts to more effectively address guardianship and elder abuse cases. (CCJ Resolution 12-M-2 and COSCA Resolution 12-B-2)

Summary:

Congress incorporated the Elder Justice Act into the health care reform legislation (Public Law 111-148). The legislation authorizes (1) an Elder Justice Coordinating Council, (2) an Advisory Board on Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation, (3) dedicated funding for adult protective services, and (4) a national program for criminal history background checks.  

There has been no action on either The Elder Abuse Victims Act of 2011 (S. 462) or the End of Abuse in Later Life Act of 2011 (S. 464) introduced by Senator Herb Kohl (D.WI).  S. 462 would (1) establish an Office of Elder Justice in DOJ responsible for compiling and disseminating information and providing training and technical assistance to assist states and local government, (2) authorize grants and technical assistance to up to 15 states to support state and local prosecutor offices and courts in elder abuse matters as well as law enforcement agencies and adult protective services, and (3) authorize $20 million per year for FY 2012 – 2014.  S. 464 would amend the Violence Against Women Act to provide for training, consultation, and information on elder abuse, create direct services to victims of elder abuse, and support coordinated community response to elder abuse.  S.464 authorizes $3 million per year for FY 2012 – 2016 for OVW to award grants for these purposes to “eligible entities” (that do not specify courts).

In Oct. 2011, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced the Guardian Accountability and Senior Protection Act (S. 1744).  NCSC was asked to testify at a hearing just preceding introduction of the bill. Title I amends the Older Americans Act to establish a Guardian Court Improvement Program (GCIP) modeled after the CIP program for neglected and abused Children.  The GCIP program would make grants available to the Supreme Court of each state to assess the “role, responsibilities, and effectiveness” of courts that hear guardianship proceedings and monitor guardianships; implement changes based on those assessments; and collect data regarding those proceedings and the impact of the changes.  Title II establishes a pilot program to “identify efficient, effective, and economical procedures for State courts to conduct background checks on prospective guardians and conservators.” The Attorney General is authorized to enter into agreements with Supreme Courts of five states and to sponsor an evaluation.  Title III authorizes SJI to award grants to state Supreme Courts to “assist in improving conservator monitoring efforts through electronic filing.”  No specific amount is authorized to support Titles I, II, or III. 

Status:

Senator Klobuchar’s staff worked to refine S. 1744 in order to secure GOP co-sponsors, in addition to Senator Cornyn (R.TX), and has been requesting comment from NCSC, the ABA Commission on Law and Aging, AARP, and SJI on each new draft.  S. 1744 was passed 15-3 by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 7/12/12.

On 5/16/13, Senator Klobuchar, along with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), introduced the Court-Appointed Guardian Accountability and Senior Protect Act (S. 975) .  The measure would include court-appointed guardianship improvement and oversight activities as a new purposed under the existing demonstration grant program authorized by the Elder Justice Act of 2009. In November 2013, S. 975 has twice been scheduled for mark-up by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Unfortunately, the legislation has been carried over for a future meeting due to the press of other business.