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Adult Protective Services

Adult Protective Services

We are here to help you. Our services are voluntary. You can choose if you need services or not.

We will not force you to move or do anything that you don’t want to. We are here to help you live in a safe and healthy environment and receive the services you need. Please contact our office at 1-888-277-4302 (1-888-APS-4302) if you need help or have any questions. For Delaware Relay services, dial 711.

File a REPORT of HARM or ask for help

  • Adult Protective Services helps to prevent or stop harm from occurring to vulnerable adults. Delaware law requires that protective services not affect adults who are capable of caring for themselves.

  • Delaware law defines vulnerable adult as a person 18 years of age or older who, because of isolation, sickness, debilitation, mental illness or physical, mental or cognitive disability, is easily susceptible to abuse, neglect, mistreatment, intimidation, manipulation, coercion or exploitation.

Below are examples of things to report:

People may suffer harm because they have been abandoned, abused, exploited, neglected or they have neglected their own care needs. Adult Protective Services will support people who have been harmed by:

  • Physical Abuse - inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior, e.g. slapping, bruising, or restraining by physical or chemical means.

  • Sexual Abuse - non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.

  • Neglect - the failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable adult.

  • Exploitation - the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a vulnerable adult for someone else's benefit.

  • Emotional Abuse - inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts, e.g. humiliating, intimidating, or threatening.

  • Abandonment - desertion of a vulnerable adult by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.

  • Self-Neglect - means an adult's inability, due to physical or mental impairment or diminished capacity, to perform essential self-care including obtaining essential food, clothing, shelter, and medical care; obtaining goods and services necessary to maintain physical health, mental health, or general safety; or managing one's own financial affairs

Who are mandated reporters required to make a Report of Harm?

  • Everyone has a duty to report if they suspect abuse, neglect or exploitation. However, there are certain groups of people who are required to do additional things. They include:

    • Financial institutions who have direct contact with a vulnerable adult and have reasonable cause to believe that person may be subject to past, current or attempted financial exploitation, have a duty to report the alleged harm.

    • Medical practitioners who have direct contact with a vulnerable adult and have reasonable cause to believe that the person may be subject to past, current or attempted abuse, neglect or exploitation have a duty to report the alleged harm.

What must be reported to Adult Protective Services?

Any incident in which a vulnerable adult is believed to be abandoned, abused, exploited, neglected or have neglected his or her own care needs.

To Whom Should Reports be Made?

Reports should be made to Adult Protective Services within 24 hours by calling 1-888-277-4302 (1-888-APS-4302) or by using the Adult Protective Services Online Submission Form.

Financial institutions only: To make a referral to APS related to suspected financial exploitation, complete the Report of Suspected Financial Exploitation Form.

How is Confidentiality Protected?

  • Investigative reports and reports of the abandonment, abuse, exploitation, neglect and self-neglect of a vulnerable adult are confidential cannot be accessed by the general public.

  • Investigative reports may be used by appropriate agencies or individuals inside and outside of the state in connection with investigations or judicial proceeding involving the abandonment, abuse, exploitation, neglect or self-neglect of a vulnerable adult.

  • Individuals who file a Report of Harm with Adult Protective Services will remain confidential. Reports may also be made anonymously.

More Resources

Guide to Services for Older Delawareans and Persons with Disabilities
Delaware Aging and Disability Resource Center Service Provider Search

Related Links

National Center on Elder Abuse
National Adult Protective Services Association
US Department of Justice - Elder Justice Initiative
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence: Preventing and Responding to Domestic and Sexual Violence in Later Life


Call 1-888-277-4302 (1-888-APS-4302) or use the Adult Protective Services Online Submission Form if you have a concern about possible abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. 
For Delaware Relay services, dial 711.