ILW addresses abuse and neglect

Idaho Living Well works to address caregiver abuse and neglect in Idaho

Idaho Living Well works to address caregiver abuse and neglect in Idaho

The Idaho Living Well project, along with project partners Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities and DisAbility Rights Idaho, have been supporting the Quality Assurance Reporting and Monitoring Workgroup with a goal to improve Idaho’s abuse and neglect reporting and monitoring system for vulnerable adults.

Made up of Self-Advocates, family member advocates, disability service providers and representatives from 13 state agencies and organizations, the QA Workgroup reviewed information collected on the current reporting system in Idaho. They also looked at needed areas of improvement as well as work done in other states to address abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults. 

After five years, the QA Workgroup has made its recommendations.

Download the QA Workgroup Recommendations visual (PDF)

The final recommendations were presented to Community Now in September 2023, for discussion and feedback. In October, the workgroup met again to review feedback and start an action plan for finalizing the recommendations and promoting them across the state.

The recommendations focus on nine key areas designed to build a more responsive and inclusive reporting and monitoring system.  Here are the highlights:

1. Single Agency: A single executive branch state agency should be designated to keep adults who are under the care of others safe from maltreatment.

2. A State Call-in Number: One number identified in the state to receive and record reported maltreatment cases. Each call would be directed to the appropriate office within the agency for follow-up.

3. Investigation Improvements: Additional investigators must be hired to investigate maltreatment in the state. Enough investigators must be employed to adequately cover the needs of the state, including in rural and remote areas. Investigators will have uniform investigation training across the state based on best practices that emphasizes working with people with disabilities, vulnerable adults, and diverse communities and cultures.

4. Data Collection: Currently, data on the prevalence of maltreatment in Idaho is not collected in any methodical or consistent manner to allow for analysis of trends or areas for improvement and cost savings. Development of a single agency and one number to call will allow for better data collection across the state.

5. A Caregiver Misconduct Registry:  Idaho currently does not have a location or process to publicly report the names of individuals who have maltreated vulnerable adults. Such a reporting system or Caregiver Misconduct Registry will provide individuals, families or providers access to a public registry of people who have committed acts of maltreatment when making hiring decision and thus help prevent continued victimization.

6. Alternative Pathways to Solutions: When a potential maltreatment is reported but:

    1. does not require immediate referral to the criminal justice system or
    2. the victim does not want the complaint to be processed through the criminal justice system,

an alternative pathway should be provided so victims have access to outcomes they determine. These pathways should include the use of restorative justice practices.  Additionally, the state should have a Disability Ombuds to investigate complaints made by people with disabilities, identify systemic issues, and provide recommendations for solutions to the state and the public.

7. One Stop Shop for Training on Maltreatment, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation, Confidentiality, and Related Topics: Create one location to house and update evidence-based training to ensure consistency across types of providers, state agencies and services. 

8. Attorney General’s Office: The appointed single agency would staff one or more Deputy Attorney Generals to focus solely on maltreatment, abuse, neglect and exploitation that would promote the consistent interpretation of the statutes, rules and confidentiality.

9. Transparency and Trust:  The single agency should make efforts to build trust in the communities it serves. Providing support and communicating steps in the investigation process increases accountability and will help build confidence in communities that have had needs in this area largely unmet. In addition, the single agency should have a community advisory committee to advise the agency on the lived experiences of individuals and families representing vulnerable adult populations.

What’s next?

The QA Workgroup action plan will outline the education and outreach needed to support the systems changes in the recommendations. This includes legislative action required to support the recommendations.

One of the first areas to focus on is the Caregiver Registry.  In  2019, an inter-agency workgroup led by Idaho Health and Welfare Licensing and Certification did extensive work on developing a caregiver misconduct registry. That work was set aside due to the pandemic. Since then, several state-level reports by The Office of Performance Evaluations and Boise State University (PDF) have recommended the state pursue a caregiver registry to address issues around quality care and prevention of abuse and neglect in our state.   

More resources and information

Office of Performance Evaluation Reports: