Who created this website?
Faculty and staff from the UNC School of Government (SOG) collaborated to develop the resources and tools available on this website that are a part of the SOG's Adult Protection Network. The project was originally funded through a contract with the North Carolina Conference of Clerks of Superior Court and the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts. Funding support was also provided by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Aging and Adult Services.
We are grateful for the insight provided during interviews and focus groups in Cumberland, Johnston, Pitt, Mecklenburg, Ashe, and Alamance counties. Thank you to the members of the Network’s Advisory Committee for providing ongoing support regarding content, tools, and website development.
Why was the website created?
All across North Carolina, professionals in state, county, and local government are working to support adults who are in need of protection from abuse, neglect, and exploitation and hold abusers accountable. This project began with a goal of making clerks of court more helpful to their communities and quickly evolved. The evolution was driven by site visits on the topic of adult protection with interested stakeholders across the state, including law enforcement officials; clerks of court; judges; social services directors, staff, and attorneys; private attorneys; and prosecutors. In the course of these conversations, it became clear that all involved wanted to:
- UNDERSTAND how the different parts of the adult protection system work. They understood their own work but found it difficult to coordinate with others involved because they did not quite understand the role and limitations of other actors in the system.
- CONNECT with others involved in adult protection to share ideas and build knowledge. They not only wanted to make connections within their local communities but also with peers across the state.
The call to improve understanding and connectivity drove the project's evolution. This website is designed with those two needs in mind: To provide information about the various components of the adult protection system and facilitate connections across the system.
Who are the “adults in need of protection”?
A person over the age of 18 is an adult. At any time, an adult may be “in need of protection” and may look to law enforcement officials, health care providers, family and others for assistance. In the context of the resources on this website, we may refer to adults in a variety of circumstances, including
- Disabled adults: Many adults, both old and young, have disabilities. Some adults with a disability may need to be protected from potential abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Under North Carolina law, social services agencies are responsible for implementing a program referred to as “adult protective services” or APS. This governmental authority extends only to those who are “disabled,” as that term is defined in state law.
- Older adults: Initial funding for this website and network came from grant funding focused on elder abuse. As a result, many materials refer to “older adults.” Interestingly, some North Carolina laws extend protection to adults over 60 while others focus on adults over 65.
- Person under guardianship (or “incompetent adult”): If a clerk of court determines that an adult is incompetent, the clerk will appoint someone to serve as that individual’s guardian. This appointed guardian, with the oversight of the court system will be able to provide some protection to an adult.
- Victims: If an adult has been abused, neglected, or exploited, we may refer to the adult as a victim. In many cases, the circumstances may be considered a crime under federal or state law and the adult would be a crime victim. But even if a perpetrator is not charged with a crime, the adult would still be considered a victim.
- Vulnerable adults: This is an umbrella term that is sometimes used to describe adults in all of the above circumstances if those adults are “in need of protection.”
The terminology will vary as it appears in resources throughout this website. We strive to be precise in our use of terms; for example, if a resource is focused on guardianship, it will likely refer to a person under guardianship or an incompetent adult.
Why do many of the resources on this site focus on elder abuse and older adults?
The project funding originally focused on elder abuse and older adults and that is where our work began. Over time, we have expanded the resources, training, and support available through the Adult Protection Network to address concerns facing other adult populations as well. Although some of these resources are focused on older adults, they should be useful for officials who work with all adults in need of protection.
Want to purchase or download the manual?
The manual may be downloaded free of charge or a print version is available through UNC Press. The free download would not have been possible without funding support from the North Carolina Conference of Clerks of Superior Court, the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, and the NC Governor's Crime Commission through PROJ012303: NCCCSC AOC Elder Abuse & Financial Exploitation 2017.