Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco has announced the County of Bergen was awarded a new 3-year federal grant worth $400,000 from the Office on Violence Against Women to increase training for police, prosecutors and judiciary in recognizing, investigating and prosecuting cases of elder abuse – the county is one of only eight nationwide recipients awarded under the Enhanced Training and Services to End Abuse in Later Life Program.
An estimated 38 percent of Bergen County residents are 50 or older. Elder abuse awareness, education and training are vital to the protection and safety of the county’s large and growing senior population. Understanding risk factors, warning signs and available resources for reporting and assistance is just the beginning of the ongoing work to protect victims and successfully prosecute elder abuse offenders.
Only 1 in 24 cases of elder abuse are ever reported. Reasons for this enormous disparity include: shame, fear, lack of knowledge of how or who to report to, recognition of warning signs in the community, limited support systems, isolation, language barriers, disabilities and/or cognitive impairment. Understanding the unique dynamics of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation are critical for prevention, identification, timely reporting, services to victims and successful prosecution of offenders.
To accurately identify current gaps in service and the overall awareness in the community, a multidisciplinary partnership comprised of The Bergen County Department of Human Services, Division of Senior Services, Bergen County Sherriff’s Office, Bergen County Prosecutors Office, Bergen County Board of Social Services, Adult Protective Services and Center for Hope and Safety will conduct a swift county-wide needs assessment survey. The survey will include two separate tracks to include both professionals serving seniors and senior residents aged 50 and older.
This grant is the catalyst to launch and sustain significant system changes in enhancing the trainings our community, law enforcement, prosecutors and Judiciaries receive on elder abuse, resulting in the best possible outcomes for these growing, delicate and critical cases. Additionally, the important data collected in the community needs assessment will be tabulated, evaluated and used to develop a plan for better implementing services throughout Bergen County for victims of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.
For more information on the program, please feel free to contact the Bergen County Division of Senior Services via email at email@example.com or via telephone at 201-336-7400.