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Welcome to the California Elder Justice Workgroup Wiki Site!

The California Elder Justice Workgroup (CEJW) was launched in October 2009 to protect the rights, independence, security, and well being of vulnerable elders in California by improving the response of the legal, long-term care, and protective service systems. 


Visit About Us to learn more about CEJW or Click here to download the full Project description in PDF format.












It’s out!

Improving California’s Response to Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation: A Blueprint. 


The document represents over two years of exploration and discussions by advocates, service providers, experts in elder abuse prevention and related fields, and others with an interest in ensuring justice, safety, and security for older adults in California. These include the findings from the first state summit on elder abuse, held in April of 2010, an environmental scan to gather the collective knowledge about abuse and related topics, and discussions with the leaders of state agencies, professional associations, and advocacy groups. We welcome you to use the Blueprint to:

  • Guide your work with abused and vulnerable elders;
  • Assist you design new programs and expand existing programs by identifying unmet needs and justifying funding proposals;
  • Craft public policy; and
  • Set research agendas.


Hard copies of the Blueprint are being sent to summit delegates, members of CEJW’s Technical Advisory Group, and state and federal policy makers. 


Click below to download now:

Improving California’s Response to Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation

Improving California’s Response to Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation: Executive Summary


We’d like to know your thoughts, ideas, and plans for using the Blueprint. Please take a moment to fill out our survey.

We’ll also use it to keep you up-to-date about plans for implementing the Blueprint.

Click here to complete the survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XYRTT8Y

Thank you!


Upcoming Conferences



October 20, 2011:  Mental Health Aging Conference

"The 3R's of Elder Abuse: Risk, Resilience and Recovery" is presented at the full day conference in Sacramento. Download the flyer - click here.


October 27, 2011:  CANHR Hosts Symposia on Misuse of Psychotropic Drugs

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) will be presenting “Dementia Care Without Drugs – A Better Approach for Long-term Care Facilities” in two venues on October 26 (Sacramento) and October 27 (South San Francisco). Co-sponsoring the seminars are Ombudsman Services of Northern California and Ombudsman Services of San Mateo County, respectively. The ombudsman programs are handling registrations for the events. For information on the Sacramento event, Click here.

For the South San Francisco symposium, Click here.


November 2, 2011:  Call to Action (Southern California)

The Elder Financial Protection Network will be hosting its signature Call to Action event in Southern California on Wednesday, November 2.  The Honorable Kim Hubbard will serve as Master of Ceremonies. The event will feature many of the cutting edge workshops featured at the Northern California event last spring and bring together professionals representing financial institutions, law enforcement, social services, elder justice advocates, and the legal community to share best practices. The event is also expected to draw hundreds of seniors For more, visit EFPN’s website at: http://bewiseonline.org


November 3-4, 2011:  Research Center on the Prevention of Financial Fraud

The newly formed Center will be hosting an inaugural conference The State and Future of Financial Fraud on November 3-4 in Washington. The Center is a joint initiative of the Stanford Center on Longevity and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation, which was formed in 2009 to further the understanding, prevention, and detection of financial fraud and connect interdisciplinary research to practical fraud-fighting efforts.  Activities include conferences and events and facilitating further study through research and funding. The Center’s website includes interdisciplinary research, including foundational and recent innovative works from the disciplines of  neuropsychology, marketing, criminology, finance, policy development, and law. Among the featured speakers at the event are Mary Schapiro, Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and Dr. Robert Cialdini, leading persuasion researcher and author of the New York Times Bestseller, Influence.

For more on the Center, see: http://fraudresearchcenter.org/

For more on the event, see:  The State and Future of Financial Fraud


November 14-16, 2011:  California Association of Area Agencies on Aging (C4A)

CEJW will again be a co-sponsor of the annual C4A conference, which takes place on November 14-16 at the Marriott Los Angles Downtown. CEJW is collaborating with the California Welfare Directors Association on two workshops. Sessions in the works include:

  •  The impact of federal and state policy developments on vulnerable and abused older adults.
    This session will focus on how the Elder Justice Act, the Social Security Act 1115 waiver demonstration projects, the realignment of Adult Protective Services, and other state and federal developments will affect local service delivery to vulnerable and abused elders. The session, which is jointly sponsored by the California Welfare Directors Association and the California Elder Justice Workgroup, will provide an opportunity for information-sharing and strategizing.
  •  Promoting Excellence in Adult Protective Services
    With shrinking budgets and burgeoning caseloads, APS programs need new and effective strategies and resources. This session will highlight what Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) are doing/can do to prevent elder abuse.  AAAs are playing a critical role in promoting elder justice and preventing abuse and neglect. State Ombudsman Joe Rodriquez will describe how AAAs are using their Title 7 (OAA) funds for elder abuse programs. Representatives from the California Elder Justice workgroup will introduce their newly released Improving California’s Response to Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation: A Blueprint, report on the progress that’s been made in implementing it and engage participants in discussing ways that they can use the Blueprint to develop elder abuse programs. The session will also focus on the important role that AAA Advisory Groups can play in promoting elder abuse prevention.
  • Addressing the mental health service needs of abused and vulnerable elders
    This session will describe the mental health service needs of abused and vulnerable elders and innovative projects to address them.



For more on the C4A conference, click here



News & Updates


CEJW participates on California Collaborative Advisory Group.

CEJW has received a grant from the SCAN Foundation to participate in the long-term services and supports (LTSS) Advisory Group of the California Collaborative. The purpose of the initiative is “to develop a shared vision and forge a united voice for the reform of California’s system of long-term supports and services.” Lisa Nerenberg, Betty Malks, and Mary Counahan will represent CEJW on monthly conference calls and participate at convenings. CEJW’s reps will also join other Advisory Group members at the Sept 27 California Summit on Transforming Long-Term Services and Supports, which will feature experts, policy makers, stakeholders, and advocates in a day-long conversation about where California's LTSS system is going. Also featured will be the results of "Raising Expectations: A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers.” The scorecard, which was produced as part of national research project by AARP, The Commonwealth Fund, and The SCAN Foundation, ranks states’ LTSS system performance on four dimensions: affordability and access; choice of setting and provider; quality of life and quality of care; and support for family caregivers.


CEJW’s participation in these events provides opportunities to bring elder abuse and elder justice into the state debate on long-term services and support, a need discussed at length during the Safeguarding the Long Term Care Network track of last year’s elder justice summit. The need for better coordination between the networks is further emphasized in Improving California’s response to Elder Abuse and Neglect: A Blueprint, which acknowledges that services like transportation, caregiver support, and attendant care are critical to ensuring older adults’ safety and security. The Blueprint further calls for measures to ensure protection within the long-term care system such as enhanced screening of long term care workers and volunteers.


State News and Legislation


APS Realignment Passes

As part of the 2011–12 budget plan, the Legislature enacted a major shift—or “realignment”—of state program responsibilities and revenues to local governments. In total, the realignment plan provides $6.3 billion to local governments (primarily counties) to fund various criminal justice, mental health, and social services programs in 2011–12, and ongoing funds for these programs annually thereafter. Included among the affected programs are adult protective service (APS) and mental health services. 


Yamada Cautions Against the Dismantling of Long Term Care

Elder Rights Champion Mariko Yamada, who chairs the Assembly Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care, has hosted two recent hearings to consider the costs and consequences of eliminating the ADHC optional benefit for 37,000 chronically ill and disabled adults. Among the topics discussed were how medically fragile and linguistically diverse population will be able to understand the complexities of managed care plans that will be offered as alternatives to services that are currently provided. Assembly member Yamada and 35 other lawmakers have called on Governor Brown to postpone plans to close the centers from December of this year to March 31, 2012. In a recent interview, Yamada said, “I think it’s ill-advised and will cost the state more financially. Beside the higher financial cost, I think the moral costs are yet to be seen.”


State Bills We Are Following


AB 753 (Eng) would prohibit insurance brokers or agents from participating in the origination of reverse mortgages, or referring prospective clients to parties associated with the origination of reverse mortgages. The bill was created because seniors are being directed for inappropriate financial and insurance products, such as annuities or long term care insurance. By prohibiting agents’ participation in the origination of reverse mortgages, whether through direct involvement or referral, AB 793 (Eng) will help ensure that seniors are protected from aggressive marketing.


Senate Bill 718 (Vargas) would allow authorities to submit elder abuse reports through a secure and confidential Internet site rather than calling in on a telephone line. The bill was designed to prevent callers from being kept on hold for long periods of time. It was introduced in response to San Diego County officials who were concerned that overloaded phone lines were threatening to frustrate those required to report.


Bankers Back Extension of Law Aimed at Elder Financial Abuse

The California Bankers Association has joined the chorus of advocates who want to prevent current law requiring financial institutions to report elder financial abuse from sunsetting. Senate Bill 33 was introduced by Senator Joe Simitian, who introduced the original law (which CBA opposed) in 2005. According to CBA spokesperson Beth Mills, “Our position is that we trained up for this, we are already doing this, and it is working. We might as well continue doing it.”


California Expands Courts’ Ability to Freeze Assets Before Conviction for Restitution

On August 5, 2011, Governor Brown signed legislation expanding the courts' ability to freeze assets for restitution. Previously, the law allowed courts to order the preconviction preservation of assets in cases involving two or more felonies involving fraud or embezzlement where losses total more than $100,000. The new law amends that provision to allow the preservation of assets in cases involving a single felony involving fraud or embezzlement causing losses over $100,000. 


Federal News

The following federal updates are provided by the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse’s Public Policy Committee:


Elder Justice Act: Not Giving Up

The status of the Elder Justice Act (EJA) appropriations/implementation is uncertain due to the current focus on deficit reduction and establishing a debt ceiling.


Background: President Obama’s Executive Budget Proposal released February 2011 included $21.5 billion for implementation of the EJA components of the Affordable Care Act. Nothing further has been done by either legislative body to finalize the funding level. Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 begins October 1, 2011.


The debt ceiling has thrown a wrench into the picture. We are now looking at caps in spending for 10 years, largely on discretionary budget items. This creates uncertainty for new programs like EJA. To accomplish $1.1 trillion in savings over the next 10 years, Congress may arbitrarily seek to reduce everything, make $38 billion in cuts to existing programs, and choose not to fund new programs. Legislators and advocates need to identify where to get funding dollars from. Key Appropriations Committees to watch include: House Appropriations Committee Sub-Committee on Labor, Health and Human Services and the same committees on the Senate side. Information on the work of the committees will be on the EJC website.


Elder Abuse Victims Act (HR 2564/S462)

There are bills pending in both the House and Senate. This has previously passed the House twice, originally as part of the EJA. Kohl (D-Wis) is the lead sponsor in the Senate and King (R-NY) is the lead sponsor in the House. This must be taken up by both Judiciary Committees.


Other Legislative Activities:

  •  On August 23, Senator Blumenthal (D-Conn) chaired a field hearing on behalf of the Senate Special Committee on Aging regarding the federal response to elder abuse and Adult Protective Services (APS). The Secretary of DHHS has the discretion to establish an office of APS at the federal level. There is a pending application for an APS Resource Center subject to funding being available. Senator Blumenthal is also sponsoring a bill to amend the Older Americans Act (OAA) and the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), strengthening victims’ services.
  •  Also on August 23, the Senate Sub-Committee on the Older Americans Act (OAA) held a listening session for Senate staff on elder abuse and strengthening OAA on elder justice.
  •  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (DHHS CMS) has taken steps to implement the mandatory reporting of crimes in nursing homes and issue guidelines to states. For more, see the Elder Justice Coalition’s website at: http://www.elderjusticecoalition.com/
  •  There is a rumor that the Advisory Committee creating by the passage of the EJA is moving forward, after being stalled for lack of funds.
  •  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is creating a new Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans.


Other Federal News:

  •  Enlisting the IRS to Assist in Restitution Recovery

The Crime Victim Restitution and Court Fee Intercept Act (H.R.1416) introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Representative Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) would allow state courts to coordinate with the IRS to intercept tax refunds of individuals who owe restitution to their victims or have outstanding court fees.  The Act will allow the IRS to send tax refunds from those convicted of a crime who owe outstanding fines or payments to victims and courts that are owed the debt. Federal law currently permits the interception of federal tax refunds to pay outstanding child support debts, state tax and other federal debts, and this legislation would still require the payment of outstanding child support debts before any other court-related cost.  Any additional costs needed to implement this law would be paid by the states that choose to participate.


Paulson had this to say about the bill: “There is absolutely no reason that the federal government should be giving tax refunds to criminals who owe restitution to their victims. Our legislation will ensure that criminals who still owe money to their victims and the courts don’t receive their tax refunds until they repay every last cent.”



New Reports and Resources


From the National Center for State Courts (NCSC)

  • NCSC recently released a report that offers a “ballpark estimate” of open guardianship cases in the US and outlines court-related activities in 2010 that were aimed at improving guardianship processes.  The report is available on NCSC’s web site at  http://eldersandcourts.org/ (under “Latest News”).
  • NCSE has also developed an elder abuse curriculum for state judicial educators as part of a project funded by the Retirement Research Foundation of Chicago. It includes an instructor’s manual, handouts, PowerPoint files, and evaluation forms.  The curriculum is designed so that it can be modified by individual states to include state demographics, laws, and reporting requirements.  It’s a three-part module (Physiology of Aging, Identifying Elder Abuse and Neglect, and Crafting Court Responses).


Incapacitated Adults: Oversight of Federal Fiduciaries and Court-Appointed Guardians Need Improvement

This new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) calls for better oversight of court-appointed guardians. The report, which  looks at guardians appointed by the Social Security Administration (SSA), Veterans Affairs (VA), and state courts, addresses the screening of potential fiduciaries and guardians; monitoring of fiduciaries and guardians; information sharing among SSA, VA, and state courts; and federal support for court oversight of guardians. The GAO recommended that the Department of Health and Human Services consider funding evaluations of practices for monitoring guardians. It also recommended that the SSA determine how it can disclose certain information about beneficiaries and fiduciaries to state courts under current law, and propose legislative changes if necessary to further such disclosure. To download the report, click here.


Making Restitution Real: Five Case Studies on Improving Restitution Collection

The National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) recently released Making Restitution Real: Five Case Studies on Improving Restitution Collection. Included among the models profiled is the Vermont Restitution Fund and Center for Crime Victim Services Restitution Unit.


The restitution fund was created in 2002 through a 15% surcharge on criminal and traffic fines. When the court orders restitution, a restitution judgment order is sent to the Restitution Unit, which can advance restitution payments of up to $10,000 to individual crime victims. For business crime victims and amounts above the $10,000 cap, the unit collects from offenders and disburses the money to victims.


The Restitution unit is structured and operates like a collection agency. Collection analysts manage a caseload of offenders who owe restitution, maintaining regular contact with offenders and using a number of collection tools to promote compliance. Since July 1, 2004, the unit has advanced a little over $6 million to 5,600 individual crime victims and its collection rate is 24%. One positive outcome has been the coordination between the Restitution unit and the victims Compensation program, which has tripled the amount of restitution ordered to the Compensation program. Moving forward, the unit will work with the Vermont legislature to improve collection rates. Lessons learned from the project include the realization that decoupling restitution from probation was a mistake. The ability to tell offenders that they won’t be released from probation until they pay their restitution is a motivation to pay.


Worth Reading:

Assessing Knowledge of Elder Financial Abuse: The First Step in Enhancing Prosecutions 

Anyone who’s prosecuted, followed, or testified in an elder financial abuse case knows it can be daunting. In this fascinating paper, authors Sharon Gibson and  Edie Greenepropose and evaluate a novel form of psychological expertise in financial abuse trials—social framework testimony--to reeducate jurors who are misinformed about aspects of elder financial abuse in hopes of enhancing prosecutions. The article is slated for publication next year in the Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect [24 (4)] but the authors have offered CEJW a sneak preview.  To download, click here.


USA Today Analyzes Restitution

A USA TODAY analysis of Justice Department records found that although federal judges have ordered hundreds of the nation's biggest swindlers to repay millions of dollars they stole during the past decade, so far, the government has collected about 2 cents on the dollar. The article goes on to describe  difficulties prosecutors are likely to face in the coming years, as they try to wring money from scam artists who profited from the nation's housing and financial crises. For more, click here.



Past Conferences


June 20, 2011:  Legal Assistance for Seniors 6th Annual Conference on Elder Abuse

Held on June 20 at the Oakland Marriott City Center, this year’s event provided an opportunity to showcase progress on implementing CEJW’s blueprint. Panelists on Improving California’s Response to Elder Abuse: A Blueprint included:


  • Attorney Steve Riess and Helen Karr, of the San Francisco District Attorneys Office, who described a booklet they designed that explains and compares civil and criminal penalties for elder abuse.
  • Mary Counihan, who described the Ombudsman/APS Jurisdiction group, which got started at the Summit. The group explored conflicts and questions about the roles of the agencies involved in investigating abuse reports and developed a model memoranda of understanding that counties can use to help coordinate their responses to reports.
  • Shawna Reeves, who described social networking to raise awareness of elder financial abuse
  • Shirley Krohn, who described an intergenerational elder justice advocacy project that fosters collaboration between the California Senior Legislature and schools of social work. 







·   Among the issues raised at the summit was the need for better communication among legal professionals, particularly in the handling of financial abuse cases. Summit delegate Steve Riess sums it up this way.

          “The state’s response to the problem involves helping victims recover from exploitation and punishing wrong-doers. However, civil remedies and criminal prosecution derive their authority from different statutes with very different legal requirements. Moreover, practical considerations, such as the measures of proof required and the ability of defendants to return property, often have profoundly different effects on the outcomes of civil cases and criminal prosecutions. While civil lawyers and prosecutors both address the same exploitative events, there is often a substantial gap in their understanding of each other’s roles. This gap can result in a failure to cooperate and a frustration of purpose.”


Steve, a private attorney, and fellow summit delegate Helen Karr of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office teamed up on an ingenious solution. They’re designing a short publication to help civil lawyers and prosecutors better understand each other’s roles. The front half of the booklet is entitled “Civil Elder Financial Abuse for Prosecutors” and describes the law and practical considerations faced by civil lawyers. Turning the booklet over, the other half is entitled “Criminal Elder Financial Abuse for Civil Lawyers” and describes prosecutors’ considerations. When completed, they plan to distribute the booklets at no charge to district attorney offices and related law enforcement, as well as to major county bar associations. Stakeholders who would like to help by reviewing a draft can contact Steve at steve@riesslaw.com

·         In a new report released December 7, 2010, advocates for consumers and seniors are calling for stricter oversight of the reverse mortgage market and new consumer protections for borrowers. Consumers Union released the report in collaboration with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform’s Prescott Cole and the Council on Aging Silicon Valley’s Shawna Reeves. The report and recommendations for consumers are being issued as the newly authorized Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) examines reverse mortgages and considers whether new safeguards are needed to protect borrowers from abusive industry practices. The Federal Reserve Board is also considering a set of proposed regulations on reverse mortgages.

In their February 14 newsletter, the Elder Justice Coalition (EJC) announced that President Obama’s FY 2012 budget proposed more than $20 million in first time funding for programs included in the Elder Justice Act of 2010. As per the EJC the funding breakdown is as follows:

·         Adult Protective Services (APS)-$16.5 million for State Adult Protective Services demonstrations to improve operations. Of these funds, $1.5 million will be targeted for coalition building, training and technical assistance, elder rights program development and research for preventing and addressing elder abuse within Tribal nations according to the Administration on Aging (AoA).

·         Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program-an additional $5 million to improve resident advocacy to elders and adults with disabilities who live in long-term care settings.


To learn more about the work of the Elder Justice Coalition, visit http://www.elderjusticecoalition.com/index.htm

·         2011 Elder Rights Conference – Call for Sessions / Sponsorship Opportunity
Stakeholders are invited to submit a presentation request for the 25th Annual Elder Rights Conference, July 6-8, 2011, in Chicago, Illinois. Deadline for submission is March 17, 2011. For more information, contact
gidget.freeberg@illinois.gov or call 217-557-8312.

·         Friday, April 29 from 10-11:30am - Promising Practices with Financial Exploitation presented by Betty Malks, Shawna Reeves, Iris Freeman and Adria Navarro.

·         To view the POST catalogue description, visit http://post.outpostnetworks.com/postcatalog/catalogue/c6/p303

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