Waco: Protective services not just for children

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 6:05 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - When you think of protective services, many may think about children, but similar services are available for adults.

APS is a part of the Department of Family and Protective Services. While many people are familiar with the concept of protective services for children, similar services are offered for adults who are age 65 and older, or who have disabilities.

Jamie Grohoske, APS in-home supervisor for McLennan County said they investigate instances of physical abuse or exploitation by a family member or caregiver, but APS can also help with bill payment, minor home repairs, or even picking up groceries.

Grohoske said the elderly are vulnerable, so APS resources are important in a community.

“We want to make sure that we’re protecting and assisting them to the best of our ability,” Grohoske said. Some people don’t have family.”

Vela grew up in state care, and said he was inspired by all the caseworkers. He planned to go into child protective services, or counseling, but didn’t expect to work with Adult Protective Services.

Vela said he believes it is his life’s purpose to care for other people, and he does that every day as a specialist investigator for Adult Protective Services.

“I feel like I’m doing my job here, as helping other people, and I feel like I’m making a difference,” Vela said. “I feel like that’s my purpose in life as well, is to make a difference, to create change.”

Vela said as part of APS, he is in and out of people’s homes all day, helping them with whatever issues are reported to APS. Some days, Vela said it is little things, like help with a utility bill, and some days, it’s dealing with a pest infestation.

Vela said he helps people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Sometimes, people have the resources to pay for help, but they don’t know where to start, and that’s where APS can help.

Even if people have regular caretakers, APS can still offer support when needed. Vela said caring for a loved one can be very stressful, and APS can fill in any gaps.

“We can help connect them to other resources and relieve some of that, and give them an opportunity to get a break here and there, or even try to get them home health services,” Vela said.

Especially as the weather is warming up outside, Vela said people can help APS by keeping an eye on any elderly neighbors, and reaching out.

“It can alleviate a lot of neglect before it happens,” Vela said. “So a lot of times if you see your neighbor, the grass is high, something’s changed, and is not normally high, but you know, go knock on the door, see what’s going on.”

June is Elder Abuse Awareness month, and if you or someone you know needs help, you can call the hotline at 800-252-5400.

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