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Wednesday, December 19 , 2018, 6:20 am | Fair 42º


Agency Partnership Works to Curtail Elder Abuse

There are almost 1,600 reports of elder abuse each year, according to Santa Barbara County Adult Protective Services.

Seniors who have been neglected or abused are often unable to get the help they need for a variety of reasons; many need social services in addition to legal services to fully recover.

In response, Family Service Agency (FSA) is collaborating with the Legal Aid Foundation (LAF) to provide coordinated legal and social services to county residents age 60 and older who are victims of physical, emotional and financial abuse.

Funding has been provided through the Victim Legal Assistance Program of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES).

Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County, Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County and Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Victim-Witness Assistance Program will work collaboratively to ensure senior and dependent adult victims of abuse and neglect in Santa Barbara County receive all appropriate and available assistance.

Victim Witness will continue to operate a hotline to report senior abuse, investigate reported abuse, and bring criminal prosecutions against abusers.

LAF attorneys will counsel and represent victims of abuse in non-criminal, legal matters.

An FSA social worker will provide necessary services to ensure victims are safe and have the help they need to stabilize their lives. Call FSA at 805-965-1001 for more information.

“Elder abuse and neglect are complicated because they often involve sensitive relationships and situations,” said Lisa Brabo, FSA executive director. “By working together, we can better address each individual’s particular situation and help prevent future abuse.”

“Our joint goal is to help seniors who have been abused to stop the abuse, if it is still occurring, and to help seniors recover from the effects of the abuse,” said Molora Vadnais, LAF executive director.
FSA and LAF will work closely with other agencies for the benefit of seniors, such as district attorney’s Victim-Witness Office, Adult Protective Services, Area Agency on Aging, Elder Abuse Prevention Council, Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and Department of Social Services.

Through cross-training and mutual referrals, all seniors who seek and need help will be able to access it.

LAF is the only organization in the county that provides free legal representation for victims of crime. LAF staff attorneys assist senior and adult dependent victims of physical or mental abuse or financial fraud. Last year, LAF assisted 193 clients over the age of 60.

FSA provides mental health counseling and case management services to seniors and their caregivers. Last year, FSA assisted 162 seniors and caregivers with some 2,000 hours of counseling.

FSA also operates the Long-Term Ombudsman program for the county, overseeing 1,500 residents at 150 care facilities.
Through bilingual staff, both agencies can address the needs of the Spanish-speaking population.

For more about FSA and LAF, visit https://fsacares.org/ and http://www.lafsbc.org/.

— Marianne McCarthy for Family Service Agency.


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