Adults-At-Risk Reporting Law

In the mid-1980s, the Wisconsin Legislature passed a law establishing the Elder Abuse & Neglect (EA&N) voluntary reporting system for those age 60 and over. However, there has been no similar reporting system for people age 18 – 59.

Based on law passed , effective , counties are required to respond to Adults-at-Risk referrals. As this is an unfunded mandate, the ACS Division will be implementing this without new resources.

The law defines an adult-at-risk as any adult who has a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs his or her ability to care for his or her needs who has experienced, is currently experiencing, or is at risk of experiencing abuse, neglect, self neglect or financial exploitation.

Abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, treatment without consent and unreasonable confinement or restraint.

Reporting is mandated for certain professionals in some situations. Mandated reporting now applies to both EA&N and Adults-at-Risk. Mandatory reporters are:

  1. an employee of any entity that is licensed, certified or approved by or registered with WDHFS;
  2. a health care provider defined in §155.01(7); and
  3. a social worker, professional counselor, or marriage or family therapist certified under ch.457.

Reporting is mandated when a mandated reporter sees the elder person or the adult at risk in the course of the reporter’s professional duties and one of the following is true:

  1. the person-at-risk has requested the person to make the report; or
  2. there is reasonable cause to believe that the person-at-risk is at imminent risk of serious bodily harm, death, sexual assault, or significant property loss and is unable to make an informed judgment about whether to report the risk; or
  3. other elders or adults-at-risk are at risk of serious bodily harm, death, sexual assault, or significant property loss inflicted by the suspected perpetrator.

The Elder Abuse Helpline—(608) 261-9933—been expanded to be the receiving/screening point for Adults-at-Risk referrals and has been renamed the Elder Abuse/Adults-at-Risk Helpline. The Helpline is operated out of SMO by the Area Agency on Aging of Dane County. However, any required investigations will be done by staff from other parts of the ACS Division, and not by EA&N staff.

Support Brokers representing consumers with developmental disabilities on their caseload, should continue to use the Fact-Finders Protocol as illustrated earlier in this section. However, since Support Brokers are mandatory reporters under this law they should follow this policy for elders and other adults-at-risk.