The Minnesota Elder Justice Center incorporated in February 2014 and launched October 2014. Our mission is to mobilize communities to prevent and alleviate abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of elders and vulnerable adults.
An Aging Population
Baby Boomers started turning age 65 in 2011. Those with disabilities are living longer, and the elderly and disabled are more often staying at home to receive services. Those who move to new settings to receive health care or help with daily living may face other obstacles. This combination of growth and potential for isolation creates huge opportunities and challenges for Minnesota’s families, workforce, health care providers, health and human services agencies, and law enforcement.
Many older or disabled individuals are reliant on others for care, support, and assistance with finances, making them vulnerable to harm. In 2013, over 34,000 reports of maltreatment of vulnerable adults were reported to county social services agencies in Minnesota.
The Center builds on a rich history of collaborative work to address the needs of elders and vulnerable adults. The Center joins and expands the work of two successful Minnesota initiatives, S.A.F.E. Elders (Stop Abuse and Financial Exploitation) and the Vulnerable Adult Justice Project.
S.A.F.E. Elders, launched in 2012 by Tony Palumbo, Anoka County Attorney, is best known for work with county attorneys across the state and community partners to produce an educational video with TPT- Minnesota. Through cooperation with William Mitchell law students and faculty, they developed a training toolkit, a prosecutor’s trial notebook and a Mobile App for case investigators.
The Vulnerable Adult Justice Project, founded in 2007, at William Mitchell, was a statewide, interdisciplinary group whose partners worked with public officials to address gaps in the protection system. Each year, they expanded community awareness of effective practices through the Minnesota World Elder Abuse Awareness Day event.
The leaders of the S.A.F.E Elders and the Vulnerable Adult Justice Project identified a need to establish a new infrastructure in order to sustain and accelerate their efforts to serve Minnesota’s aging and vulnerable adult population. The organization was granted IRS 501(c)(3) status in July 2014 and hired a full-time Executive Director in October 2014. The founding Board of Directors has grown to 12 and brings together a diverse group of stakeholders ready to lead and grow the Center’s work.
Fulfilling the Mission
To fulfill its mission, the Center focuses on three key areas:
- Public Awareness – Delivers community presentations and training materials on the issues confronting elders and vulnerable adults, along with strategies for addressing those issues.
- Professional Education and Practice – Highlights effective practices in social services, law enforcement and health care, incorporating emerging research and case studies in the relevant areas of study.
- Public Policy – Facilitates a monthly meeting for discussion, research and recommendations to strengthen Minnesota’s systems and resources for the protection of vulnerable adults.