Adult Protective Services

The mission of the Adult Protective Services (APS) program is to protect vulnerable persons whose safety and protection may be adversely affected by abuse, neglect, self-neglect or exploitation; raise public awareness, and educate mandated reporters of their reporting responsibilities.


Adult Protective Services (APS) Unit within the Division of Aging and Adult Services was created through legislation passed in 2006. APS investigates reports of suspected abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults. Guided by the Mississippi Vulnerable Persons Act, APS provides for the protection of at-risk vulnerable persons age 18 and older residing in private home settings through direct delivery or referral to resources within the community.

Abuse & Indicators

Physical Abuse: beating, slapping, kicking, rough handling, or other abuse causing welts, cuts, burns, abrasions, sprains, bruises, dislocations, fractures or broken bones.

Neglect by Caregiver/Others: lack of supervision, failure to give medicine, food or personal care, not attending to bed sores.

Self-Neglect: Indicators such as the inability to provide self-care (i.e. cook, eat, bath), over-medication/under-medication, untreated medical or mental conditions, aimless wandering, causing fires.

Psychological/Emotional Abuse: Indicators such as verbal threats or insults, cursing, belittling, withholding companionship or isolation.

Sexual Abuse: Indicators such as Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), pregnancy, bruises, bleeding, pain or itching in genital or anal areas, difficulty in walking or sitting.

Financial Abuse/Exploitation: Indicators such as mismanaging money or stealing property, savings, credit cards, unusual activity in bank accounts, misuse of assets by a representative payee.

Direct Services

Direct Services are made available for the APS Program to help vulnerable clients in need of immediate assistance during an APS Worker’s investigation. It provides a more cost-effective method of small-dollar purchase and payment to serve the client’s needs.

Direct Services are designed to supplement a variety of processes including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Food assistance
  • Utilities
  • COVID Testing/vaccines/boosters
  • Medications and medical supplies
  • Transportation
  • Adult Day Care
  • Home Repairs

Frequently Asked Questions

Adult Protective Services investigates allegations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable persons residing in private home settings, as well as any follow-up services provided by the Division of Aging and Adult Services to those vulnerable persons as a result of the investigations.

vulnerable person is defined in the Mississippi Vulnerable Persons Act as a person 18 years of age or older, or any minor whose ability to perform the normal activities of daily living, or to provide for his or her own care, protection from abuse, neglect, exploitation or improper sexual contact, is impaired due to:

  • mental, emotional, physical, or developmental disability or dysfunction.
  • brain damage.
  • the infirmities of aging.

The term “vulnerable person” also includes residents or patients, regardless of age, in a care facility.

Report abuse of vulnerable persons living in the following settings to Adult Protective Services:

  • a private home setting (i.e., in his/her own home or the home of another person).
  • an unlicensed personal care home with three or fewer residents unrelated to the operator.
  • a home setting that does not require a license to operate under the Mississippi State Department of Health guidelines (i.e., boarding home).
Reports received by the Centralized Intake Unit are electronically transmitted to an Adult Protective Services regional supervisor for the county where the alleged victim resides. The APS supervisor reviews the report and makes the screening decision for further handling. If the report meets the criteria for an APS investigation, the supervisor assigns the report to an APS worker.
Report abuse occurring within licensed care facilities (i.e., nursing homes, personal care homes), or unlicensed personal care homes with four or more residents unrelated to the operator to the Mississippi State Department of Health at 800-227-7308 or the Office of the Attorney General, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit at 800-852-8341.
The Vulnerable Persons Act mandates that any person, including but not limited to the following, who knows or suspects that a vulnerable person has been or is being abused, neglected or exploited, shall immediately file a report. This includes persons who are a:
  • Attorney, physician, osteopathic physician, medical examiner, chiropractor or nurse engaged in the admission, treatment or care of a vulnerable person.
  • Health professional or mental health professional.
  • A practitioner who relies solely on spiritual means for healing.
  • Social worker, family protection worker, family protection specialist or other professional adult care, residential or institutional staff.
  • State, county or municipal criminal justice employee or law enforcement officer.
  • Human rights advocacy committee or long-term care ombudsman council member.
  • Accountant, stockbroker, financial advisor or consultant, insurance agent or consultant, investment advisor or consultant, financial planner, or any officer or employee of a bank, savings and loan, credit union or any other financial service provider.

Anonymous reports are accepted. However, any person or entity holding or required to hold a license as specified in Title 73, Professions and Vocations, Mississippi Code of 1972, shall be required to give their name, address and phone number in the report of the alleged abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Yes, the reporter’s name is kept confidential by Centralized Intake.

To the extent possible, a report should contain, but not be limited to:

  • Name, age, race, sex, physical address and location of the vulnerable person.
  • Name, address and telephone number of the alleged perpetrator.
  • Name, address and telephone number of the caregiver, if different from the alleged perpetrator.
  • Whether or not the vulnerable person is self-neglecting.
  • Description of the neglect, abuse and/or exploitation.
  • Description of the person’s impairment to perform the normal activities of daily living (meaning, what the person can or cannot do), care for to protect self from abuse, neglect or exploitation.
  • The potential danger to Adult Protective Services staff who may visit the home (i.e., firearms, drugs).

Statutorily, investigations are required to be initiated within 48 hours if immediate attention is needed, or within 72 hours if a vulnerable person is not in immediate danger, to determine whether the vulnerable person is in need of protective services and what services are needed. If an emergency exists, the reporter is advised to call local law enforcement.

The purpose of the investigation is to determine the validity of the report and to assess the need for protective services. Services from the agency are intended to preserve the vulnerable person’s rights with the least restrictive intrusion while maintaining his or her well-being.

Protective services cannot be forced involuntarily upon a mentally capable vulnerable person.

No. MDHS does not conduct criminal investigations. However, MDHS files a preliminary report of its findings to the Office of the Attorney General, Vulnerable Adults Unit within 48 hours if immediate attention is needed, or within 72 hours if a vulnerable person is not in immediate danger, to determine whether the vulnerable person is in need of protective services and what services are needed. MDHS makes additional reports as new information or evidence becomes available. The Vulnerable Adults Unit conducts criminal investigations and prosecutes the perpetrator who has abused, neglected or exploited a vulnerable person living in a private setting. Also, MDHS is required to file a report with the local district attorney’s office and the Attorney General’s Office when there is reasonable cause to believe that a caretaker or other person has abused, neglected or exploited a vulnerable person.

Division of Aging and Adult Services


Vulnerable Person Abuse Hotline


Report Abuse or Neglect Online

Call local law enforcement agency or 911 if the situation is a life threatening emergency.