COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) has announced that it will invest $1.3 million over the next three years to further improve the state’s adult protective services system.

This investment includes a federal grant of more than $920,000.

“This is exciting news for Ohio and for older Ohioans,” said Cynthia Dungey, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), which oversees the state’s Adult Protective Services program in partnership with county JFS agencies. “This will allow us to build on the reforms made over the last several years and focus on improving technology, education, public awareness and community collaboration to strengthen our system for protecting vulnerable Ohioans.”

Over the last three years, ODJFS has led workgroups, developed trainings, launched a statewide 800 number for reporting elder abuse, launched a statewide data collection and reporting system, and helped county agencies form interdisciplinary teams – or I-Teams – to collaborate in their efforts to increase and improve APS services.

This additional investment will allow state and local staff to build on those efforts. Among other things, it will allow ODJFS to host a statewide I-Team conference, undertake a year-round public awareness campaign, develop an online referral system for reporting suspected elder abuse, and develop an online training for individuals required by law to report suspicions of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation.

On Sept. 29, Ohio law greatly expanded the number of mandatory reporters of elder abuse to include many more individuals in the financial services, legal and medical professions – for example, pharmacists, dialysis technicians, firefighters, first responders, building inspectors, CPAs, real estate agents, bank employees, financial planners and notary publics. If mandatory reporters fail to report possible abuse, they could face fines of up to $500.

Elder abuse can include physical, sexual or psychological abuse, as well as neglect, abandonment or financial exploitation. Anyone in Ohio can report possible elder abuse 24/7 by calling 1-855-OHIO-APS or by contacting the nearest county department of job and family services (JFS).

In Hardin County, that number is (419) 675-1130. Reports can be made anonymously.