Adult Protection

Adult protection is a federally mandated service in which social workers investigate allegations of maltreatment, and arrange services to help assure the safety of Vulnerable Adults in St Louis County.

Vulnerable Adults
  • A vulnerable adult is anyone 18 years or older that:
  • Lives in a facility such as a nursing home, assisted living, or adult foster care
  • Receives licensed services in their home such as nursing visits
  • Has a physical or mental dysfunction that impairs their ability to care for themselves, and protect themselves from maltreatment

The following definitions and prioritization quidlines are used to determine the agency's response to reports of alleged maltreatment.

  • Physical Abuse: slapping, hitting, kicking, punching, pinching, etc
  • Sexual Abuse: inappropriate touching, fondling, forcible sex
  • Emotional Abuse: yelling, harassing, threatening, put-downs, name calling, isolation
  • Caregiver Neglect: a caregiver not supplying adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical services or supervision
  • Self-Neglect: a person living in uninhabitable conditions, not attending to medical needs, not taking medications, etc.
  • Financial Exploitation: spending a vulnerable adult's funds without permission, taking their Social Security checks, abusing Power of Attorney, and not providing to vulnerable adult's needs.
Reporting Maltreatment
Mandated reporters such as persons in medical occupations, social services, education, law enforcement and caregivers for Vulnerable Adults are required to report known or suspected maltreatment. All other persons are voluntary reporters. The Minnesota Vulnerable Adults Act provides immunity from civil and criminal liability when a report is submitted in good faith. The identity of the reporter is always kept confidential.

Be prepared to report the following:
  • What happened or is happening?
  • To whom did it happen?
  • When did it happen?
  • Where did it happen?
  • Who is responsible for the abuse, exploitation, or neglect?

Supported Decision Making

Supported Decision Making is an alternative to guardianship. It is a process of supporting and accommodating an adult with a disability to enable the adult to make life decisions, including where to live, the services, supports, and medical care the person wants to receive, where the person wants to live and to work without impeding the self-determination of the person.

Supported Decision Making: Protecting Rights, Ensuring Choices Jonathan Martinis


A guardian is appointed by the court to make the personal decisions for the protected person ("Ward".) The court will identify in what specific areas a guardian has the right to make decisions for the ward. Visit the Minnesota Courts website for legal information about Guardianship.

St. Louis County referrals for guardianship typically come through the Vulnerable Adult Investigation process. Investigations are routinely reviewed with the St. Louis County Attorney and Guardianship Unit to discuss potentially less restrictive alternatives to guardianship

Volunteers of America Guardianship Hotline

ARC Minnesota

Report Abuse

Mandated Reporting

Mandated reporters-including law enforcement, educators, doctors, nurses, social workers and other licensed professionals can call the number above or use a web-based reporting system.

Minnesota Department of Human Services - Adult Protection

MN Initiatives: Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making