The Vulnerable Adult Act (VAA), Minnesota Statute 626.557, was passed in 1980 and establishes state policy for the protection of vulnerable adults and Minnesota’s adult protection system. While the VAA has been updated a number of times since its passing in 1980, including 1995 when MN §626.5572 added definitions of terms in the VAA, 2009 when changes were made to improve investigation coordination and criminal consequences for financial exploitation, and 2013 when a Central Entry Point (CEP) for all adult maltreatment reports in Minnesota was approved, the VAA has not been substantially reviewed in nearly 40 years regarding the service response for vulnerable adults.
The VAA outlines adult protection in the state of Minnesota and determines agencies responsible for investigations and adult protection services. Depending on the allegation and circumstances of a suspected maltreatment report, an investigation can be assigned to APS, Department of Human Services Licensing Division, or the Department of Health. However, direct services to protect vulnerable adults is only done by APS workers in Minnesota.
The decision to explore redesigning the VAA reflects the changing demographics in our state as well as recognition of the challenges within the current statute. As the policy framework for a person-centered adult protection system that supports people who are vulnerable to live their lives, some questions arise in today’s environment such as:
Additionally, the VAA Redesign project reflects challenges within the current statute related to:
Phase 1 (State Fiscal Year 2019): Focus on research, review of state and national models and best practices, and concluding with a recommended stakeholder outreach and engagement plan.
DHS engaged an independent contractor, Public Sector Consultants (PSC), for Phase 1 (SFY19) of this project. PSC is a nonpartisan, objective public policy research and consulting firm based in Lansing, Michigan. PSC specializes in the development and implementation of innovative, actionable public policies by conducting rigorous, impartial research to support sound decisions and engage people with diverse perspectives to identify practical solutions. For the VAA Redesign project, PSC conducted a thorough review of state and national policies, APS models, and best practices as well as 135 interviews of key stakeholders to obtain additional insights. PSC also developed a stakeholder outreach and engagement plan for updating the VAA and meeting the needs of diverse stakeholders. At the conclusion of their work PSC provided a report on June 30, 2019, titled, “The Vulnerable Adult Act and Adult Protective Services in Minnesota: A Review of National Models, Best Practices, and Stakeholder Insights.” (PDF)
Phase 2 (State Fiscal Year 2020): Focus on stakeholder engagement. On July 1, 2019, Minnesota Management Analysis and Development (MAD) engaged planning the process for VAA Redesign Phase 2 (SFY20). MAD began SFY20 by obtaining additional interviews with groups underrepresented in the PSC report from SFY19. The results were provided August 22, 2019, titled, “Addendum to ‘The Vulnerable Adult Act and Adult Protective Services in Minnesota: Stakeholder Insights.’” (PDF) The proposed VAA updates will be brought before diverse stakeholders for review and input throughout SFY20 to ensure consensus on a redesigned adult protection system. Additional information regarding the Vulnerable Adult Act Redesign Stakeholder Engagement Process (PDF) is available online.
A primary goal for Phase 2 (SFY20) is to develop a draft redesign policy plan and create legislative proposals to update the VAA consistent with stakeholder vision to put forward at the 2021 Minnesota legislative session.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) has contracted with the state’s Management Analysis and Development (MAD) Division to engage stakeholders in the Vulnerable Adult Act (VAA) Redesign process. MAD offers neutral, third-party consultation services. MAD developed the Vulnerable Adult Act Redesign Stakeholder Engagement Process (PDF) to ensure proposed VAA updates will be brought before diverse stakeholders for review and input throughout SFY20 and help work toward consensus on a redesigned adult protection system. MAD also developed the Adult Protective Services Redesign Project Scope (PDF) to clarify the focus of this review. While the VAA regulates the reporting of, and investigation into, allegations of maltreatment of vulnerable adults across different settings – including those licensed by the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health – the focus of this review is county and tribal-based Adult Protective Services.
Community Conversations (PDF) about Adult Protective Services (APS) were done by community members or facilitated by community organizations for their members in October and November, 2019. These conversations with community members helped gather and amplify the voices of people who have been, or could be, impacted by APS.
The Community Conversation process (PDF) was designed so that anyone who wanted to participate could, regardless of their current knowledge of the Vulnerable Adult Act or adult protective services. The Vulnerable Adult Act (VAA) Redesign Community Conversations Kick-Off webinar was held on September 26. 2019. You can access the webinar slides and the webinar audio transcript here for more information: 9/26/19 Webinar PowerPoint (PDF); 9/26/19 Webinar Audio Transcript (PDF).
The input collected from Community Conversations that occurred across the state was shared and discussed at the November 22nd Community Stakeholder Summit at the Minnesota Humanities Center in St. Paul and provided a foundation for a redesigned VAA.
The first stakeholder engagement event for the VAA Redesign project, the Community Stakeholder Summit, was held on November 22 at the Minnesota Humanities Center in St. Paul for community members and staff representatives from organizations that hosted Community Conversations. Prior to the event, Minnesota Management Analysis and Development (MAD) collected 59 Community Conversations exploring community values related to Adult Protection scenarios. MAD compiled the Community Conversation results and facilitated the Community Stakeholder Summit (PDF) where participants reviewed input previously gathered (PDF) and helped refine foundational values for a redesigned VAA.
The collected input from Community Conversations and the Community Stakeholder Summit (PDF) touched on numerous topics and values, including these three examples:
Two Institutional Stakeholder Summit events were held in December for the VAA Redesign project. The first Institutional Stakeholder Summit was held on December 3 at the Hiway Federal Credit Union in St. Paul for people who work in close collaboration with Adult Protective Services (APS). The approximately 40 attendees included representatives from providers and provider organizations, advocacy organizations, attorneys, state agencies, county APS, and law enforcement. The second Institutional Stakeholder Summit was held on December 13, at the Elmer L. Andersen Building in St. Paul for approximately 70 county and tribal APS workers and supervisors.
Minnesota Management Analysis and Development (MAD) facilitated the two Institutional Stakeholder Summit events and built upon previous information collected by MAD in Community Conversations (PDF) engagement activities and the Community Stakeholder Summit (PDF) in November.
Attendees at the Institutional Stakeholder Summits worked in small groups to further define and refine foundational values that should drive Minnesota’s APS system and efforts to redesign the VAA. The collected input from Community Conversations, Community Stakeholder Summit, and Institutional Stakeholder Summits have touched on numerous topics and values, including these examples:
The VAA Redesign stakeholder engagement process has included Community Conversations, a Community Stakeholders Summit, and two Institutional Stakeholders Summits, all facilitated by Minnesota’s Management Analysis and Development (MAD) Division. MAD has collected and summarized a number of learning points from the engagement process (PDF) thus far. Below are a few of the items that have emerged:
The next step in the Vulnerable Adult Act Redesign Stakeholder Engagement Process (PDF) is for Solution Groups to translate the collected stakeholders’ input regarding values and desired outcomes into potential solutions.
As part of the DHS Aging and Adult Services’ effort to redesign the Vulnerable Adult Act (VAA), five Solution Groups were formed to use input received throughout 2019 to develop recommendations for how to better align Adult Protective Services (APS) with stakeholders’ values. Each Solution Group met three times in February and March. They were facilitated by Management Analysis and Development (MAD) consultants. Each of the five groups focused on different aspects of the VAA or parts of the APS system. The Solution Group topic areas were:
Each Solution Group had members representing a wide variety of perspectives, including from advocacy organizations, provider organizations, state agencies, and APS staff from counties in both Greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro area. Two of the Solution Groups (Investigations and Services and Collaboration and Data Sharing) also had representatives from law enforcement and the courts system.
Using the stakeholder feedback that had been received up to that point, DHS Adult Protection staff and MAD consultants worked to identify a list of prioritized questions for each Solution Group to answer. These questions emerged from stakeholders as key areas of interest and issues where the current VAA may not align with stakeholder values.
At each Solution Group meeting, MAD consultants facilitated group members through a process of discussing each question and developing consensus around a recommendation. Once the group developed a recommendation, each member was asked to identify their level of support or opposition to the recommendation, as well as identify any reservations or concerns about each recommendation.
The Vulnerable Adult Act Redesign: Solution Group Recommendations (PDF) provides detailed recommendations and comments from the Solution Group activities.
Please contact us with questions or comments at VAARedesign.email@example.com
The World Café event for all community and institutional stakeholders is canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis. Minnesota’s Management Analysis and Development (MAD) Division and the Department of Human Services (DHS) will work to identify next steps in the VAA Redesign process. These are extraordinary times. Kindness, patience, ethical practices, and following public health advice will get us through. Take care!
Minnesota’s Management Analysis and Development (MAD) Division and the Department of Human Services (DHS) Continuing Care Administration, Aging and Adult Services Division worked over the course of a year to get input from a variety of stakeholders on how to develop a more person-centered and equity-based adult protection system through redesign of the Vulnerable Adult Act (VAA). In July, 2020, MAD compiled a summary report of this work for DHS Continuing Care Administration, Aging and Adult Services Division titled, “Recommendations and stakeholder input for redesigning the Vulnerable Adult Act.” (PDF)
A public comment form will be added to this website soon to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to review and react to recommendations resulting from the Solution Groups process.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis the World Café event previously planned to review VAA Redesign recommendations and solicit feedback was canceled. Therefore, Minnesota’s Management Analysis and Development (MAD) Division is collecting input through a public comment form on behalf of DHS to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to review and react to recommendations resulting from the Solution Groups process. The public comment form will be open until August 17, 2020. An addendum to the report that includes the public comment on the report will be posted later in September.
Thank you to all those who provided additional comments and feedback regarding the Vulnerable Adult Redesign Recommendations. Public comment on stakeholder recommendations is collected in “Addendum to the recommendations and stakeholder input for redesigning the Vulnerable Adult Act” (PDF). A summary of the addendum is included as Appendix B in the updated summary report “Recommendations and stakeholder input for redesigning the Vulnerable Adult Act” (PDF).
Please contact us with questions or comments at VAARedesign.firstname.lastname@example.org.