This article describes the steps taken by the city of Houston and Harris County (Texas) to cooperate in addressing the financial and physical abuse of elderly persons (age 65 and older).
Funded by a Federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant, the new Harris County Senior Justice Assessment Center has structured and guides a multidisciplinary team that includes the Houston Police Department, the Harris County Sheriff's Office, the Harris County Protective Services, the district attorney's office, the Area Agency on Aging, Harris County Health Services, the University of Texas Health Services, and others. The cooperation forged among these agencies developed from the realization that the senior population of the county lacked cohesive services and that relevant agencies often worked parallel investigations on the same cases without coordination. Using child-focused centers and a similar seniors' program in California as a model, the Senior Justice Assessment Center has developed defined roles and establishes processes and procedures that include determining whether a crime has been committed, assessing the client's mental capacity, and ensuring physical safety. The various stakeholders cooperate in creating and implementing plans tailored to each client's needs.
Date Published: July 1, 2017