First-Ever Federal Regulations for Adult Protective Services

First-Ever Federal Regulations for Adult Protective Services Image

Until recently, Adult Protective Services (APS) has been funded and administered wholly at the state or local level. As a result, there is wide variation in APS services and practices between, and even within, states.

In May 2024, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Administration for Community Living (ACL), published a final rule to establish the first federal regulations for APS.

The new regulations were developed in response to longstanding requests from the APS community, Congress, and other stakeholders for federal guidance, leadership, stewardship, resources, and support for APS systems and victims of adult maltreatment. Those requests became particularly urgent in 2023, when ACL’s annual appropriation included funding – for the first time – for the state APS formula grant program authorized by the Elder Justice Act.

The APS final rule:

  • Establishes a set of national minimum standards for the operation of APS programs that all state APS systems must meet – and encourages states to exceed them.
  • Requires APS systems to ensure that planning and delivery of all services respect the fundamental right of adults to make their own life choices and that services are driven by the person receiving them.
  • Establishes stronger protections for clients subject to, or at risk of, guardianship.
  • Requires response within 24 hours of screening to cases that are life-threatening or likely to cause irreparable harm or significant loss of income, assets, or resources.
  • Requires APS to provide at least two ways – at least one online – to report maltreatment or self-neglect 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
  • Requires robust conflict of interest policies to support ethical APS practice.
  • Establishes definitions for key APS terms to improve information sharing, data collection and program standardization.
  • Promotes coordination and collaboration with state Medicaid agencies, long-term care ombudsmen, law enforcement and other partners.
  • Requires state APS entities to create state plans at least every five years and to submit annual program performance data.

The new regulations will take effect on June 7, 2024, but regulated entities have until 2028 to fully comply.

The ACL states it plans to work with stakeholders to implement the final rule and provide robust technical assistance and other resources in the coming months.

Additional information, including links to the Final Rule and two-page Fact Sheet, can be found at