Adult Protective Services (APS)

Adult Protective Service (APS) workers serve those 18 years and older who are vulnerable or have a disability.  APS serves those who need assistance due to abuse, neglect, self-neglect and financial exploitation.  If you or someone you know may need assistance please contact us. Your referral can remain confidential.

APS Brochure

APS Brochure - Hmong

APS Brochure - Spanish

Why Report?

By contacting Adult Protective Services (APS), your call:

  • Could provide the elder or dependent adult the options to keep him/her safe from harm.
  • Could allow the victim and their family members with  links to appropriate community resources.
  • Can alert unaware family members and friends to step in and help.
  • Allows the APS social worker to assist elders or adults at risk and their families in developing individualized care plans.
  • Grants you the feeling of relief in knowing that a professional is assessing the situation.

Who is an adult at risk?

An adult at risk is any individual age 18 through 59 who has a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs his or her ability to care for his or her needs. These adults have experienced, are currently experiencing, or are at risk of experiencing abuse, neglect, self-neglect or financial exploitation. Abuse includes the following: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, treatment without consent, or unreasonable confinement or restraint.

Who is an elder at risk?

An elder adult at risk is someone age 60 or older that is subjected to any of the following types of abuse or neglect: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, treatment without consent, unreasonable confinement or restraint, financial exploitation, neglect by a caregiver, or self neglect.

What are the different types of abuse?

Physical abuse may be defined as any act which results in a non-accidental physical injury. Indicators of physical abuse:

  • Beating, slapping, pushing, or kicking
  • Restrictions on freedom of movement, such as confining the victim in the bedroom
  • Overmedication
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Withholding food or water

Financial Abuse:

The mismanagement of money or stealing property belonging to the elder or adult at risk. This can include:

  • Theft (the act of stealing)
  • Extortion (taking money or property through pressure, threats, or intimidation)
  • Fraud (taking money or property be deception or misrepresentation)

Emotional Abuse:

The verbal harassment, threats or other intimidating behavior that rsults in fear, agitation, confusion, severe depression, or other form of serious emotional distress.

Sexual Abuse:

Sexual contact without consent as detailed in Wisconsin Sexual Assault Statutes 940.225 (1), (2), (3), and (3m). 

Treatment Without Consent

The administration of medication to an individual who has not provided informed consent, or the performance of psychosurgery, electroconvulsive therapy, or experimental research on an individual who has not provided informed consent, with the knowledge that no lawful authority exists for the administration or performance.

Unreasonable Confinement or Restraint

Includes the intentional and unreasonable confinement of an individual in a locked room, involuntarily separation of an individual from his or her living area, use on an individual of physical restraining devices, or the provision of unnecessary or excessive medication to an individual, but does not include the use of these methods in entities regulated by the state if the methods or devices are employed in conformance with state and federal standards governing confinement and restraint.

Financial Exploitation

Obtaining an individual’s money or property by deceiving or enticing the individual or by forcing, compelling or coercing the individual to give, sell for less than fair market value, or in other ways convey money or property against his or her will without his or her informed consent. Financial Exploitation includes theft, substantial failure or neglect of a fiscal agent (guardian of estate, conservator, power of attorney, representative payee) to fulfill his or her responsibilities, unauthorized use of the individual’s personal identifying information or documents, forgery and financial transaction card crimes.


Failure of a caregiver to provide basic necessities such as adequate food or water, clothing, shelter, medical treatment or personal care creating significant risk to the individual’s physical or mental health.


The desertion of an elder or dependent adult by anyone having care or custody of that person under circumstances in which a reasonable person would continue to provide care and custody.

Self Neglect

A significant danger to an individual’s physical or mental health because the individual is responsible for his or her own care but fails to obtain adequate care including food, shelter, clothing or medical or dental care.

What do I do if I suspect someone is being abused or neglected?

If you suspect an elder adult or adult at risk has experienced, is currently experiencing, or is at risk of experiencing abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or financial exploitation:

In an emergency, if someone is in immediate, life-threatening danger, call the police or 9-1-1 immediately.

Or, if the alleged abuser is a paid caregiver employed by a long-term care facility, contact the Division of Quality Assurance, Office of Caregiver Quality e-mail: or Phone: 608-261-8319.

If neither of the above situations:

Call the ADRC and ask for Adult Protective Services.


Guardianship Training Registration

Click below to watch the training webcasts from DHS for Guardians:
Guardianship Training Series-Guardianship 101

The ADRC accepts referrals for Guardianship's and Protective Placements for those individuals who have under $2,000 (single) or $5,000 (couple) in assets.

To refer someone for a guardianship, please complete the Guardianship Referral Form and have a physician complete the Examining Physician's or Psychologist's Report (GN-3130). Once these are completed, contact the ADRC at 877-886-2372. Completed forms can be faxed in to 920-424-7521. 

  • Wisconsin Guardianship Support Center Helpful Resources
  • Guardianship (Chap.54) and Protective Placement/Services (Chap. 55)
  • Chapter 54 of the Statutes governs the standard and procedures for guardianship of persons who are determined to be legally incompetent due to developmental disability, serious and persistent mental illness, degenerative brain disorder, or other like incapacities. A guardian may be appointed to manage an individual's medical and personal decisions and/or financial decisions. Guardianship may be limited by the court to certain functions or may cover most of the decisions an individual must make. 
  • Chapter 55 of the Statutes governs the protective placement/services law which focus on persons who have been declared incompetent under Ch. 54 of the Statutes, and who are in need of long-term placement in a nursing care facility or other similar facility, or who are in need of services in the community. Care is to be provided in the least restrictive environment to meet the person's needs. 

Hoarding Resources

Clutter Hoarding Scale

Hoarding: The Basics

Hoarding Fact Sheet

Financial Resources

Financial Exploitation

Financial Scams


Abuse reports and information that is given to Adult Protective Service agencies are always confidential by law. Unless you are a mandated reporter, you can choose to make the report without giving your name.

What will you be asked?

When making a call to report suspected Elder Adult (Age 60+) or Adult (age 18-59) at risk of some kind of abuse or neglect, you will speak to one of our Adult Protective Service staff. You may give your name and address if you choose, but you do not have to give this information. They will listen to your concerns, gather information and ask pertinent questions in order to clearly understand the situation. It is understood that you may or may not have additional information regarding the person/situation but please share what you do know. You will not be required to do anything more following your call.

What will happen after you contact your county elder adults/adults-at-risk agency?

A caseworker will respond to the report and determine what response is necessary.

Contacting the Adult Protective Service at the ADRC is the entry point for many types of services provided by the Long Term Support Division of the Winnebago County Department of Human Services. The Adult Protective Service worker's primary duties are to investigate abuse/neglect (including self neglect) reports brought to our attention.

Each Wisconsin County APS Agency has professional people who know how to respond to referrals with the primary goal of stopping the abuse. The responder's first concern is the safety of the adult at risk. Responders will determine the type of abuse, neglect and/or financial exploitation. Services will be offered as needed to improve the current situation and hopefully prevent any future abuse from happening.

There are many agencies that work to reduce danger and provide services or assistance to victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation. Services may include health care, aging programs (including transportation, nutrition and benefit counseling), domestic violence/sexual assault services (safety planning, counseling, support groups, and legal advocacy) and criminal justice intervention. Other available resources may be offered, including help with home repairs, social connections and legal matters.

Bear in mind that competent adults have the right to refuse an elder/adult at risk investigation and any recommended services regardless of the opinion of professionals, family, friends, neighbors and the community at large.