Adult Protective Services

To report Adult Abuse or Neglect in Polk County, Wisconsin, call 715.485.8400

Adult Protective Services (APS) are provided to at-risk-adults age 18 and older who, due to age or disability, are unable to protect themselves and have no one to advocate on their behalf. The Adult Protection team deals with reports of abuse - (physical or sexual); neglect - (caregiver or self; and Financial Exploitation)
If you suspect mistreatment or self-neglect of an at-risk adult, immediately report the situation to the Polk County Behavioral Health Department at 715-485-8400.

Who are At-Risk-Adults

The purpose of the Adult Protective Services program is to protect adults who cannot protect themselves. These adults are known as "at-risk adults". They are considered  to be at risk of mistreatment or self-neglect because:

  • They are unable to protect themselves; and/or
  • They are unable to perform or arrange for services that will help them protect their health and safety; and/or
  • They lack sufficient understanding or lack capacity to make or communicate decisions that will keep them safe and healthy.

Adults who might meet the definition of an at-risk adult include adults in unsafe situations who have developmental disabilities, acquired brain injuries, major mental illnesses, or neurological or cognitive deficits. Older adults who are frail and unable to perform typical activities of daily living and who are in unsafe situations may also meet the definition of an at-risk adult.

Types of Abuse

Adult Protective Staff investigates mistreatment of at-risk adults. This mistreatment may be in the form of Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation.


  • Infliction of physical pain or injury, such as substantial or multiple skin bruising, bleeding, malnutrition, dehydration, burns, bone fractures, poisoning, subdural hematoma, soft tissue swelling or suffocation.
  • Unreasonable confinement or restraint
  • Subjection to non-consensual sexual contact or conduct


  • Caretaker Neglect - Adequate food, clothing, shelter, psychological care, physical care, medical care or supervision is not secured for the at-risk adult or is not provided by a caretaker in a timely manner and with the degree of care that a reasonable person in the same situation would exercise.
  • Self Neglect - An act or failure to act whereby an at-risk adult substantially  endangers the adult's health, safety, welfare or life by not seeking or obtaining services necessary to meet the adult's essential needs.
  • Choice of lifestyle or living arrangements is not, by itself, evidence of self-neglect.


  • The illegal or improper use of an at-risk adult - or the adult's resources for another person's profit or advantage.

How to Report

If you suspect mistreatment or self-neglect of an at-risk adult, immediately report the situation to the Polk County Behavioral Health Department at 715.485.8400.

When making a report, please have as much of the following information ready to provide:

  • Adult's name, address, current location, phone and date of birth or approximate age;
  • The circumstances that cause you to suspect that mistreatment or self-neglect are occurring;
  • When appropriate, the suspected perpetrator's name, address and relationship to the adult; and
  • Additional information about the adult, if available, such as his or her doctor, caregiver, attorney, guardian or other person of significance to the adult.

It's okay to make a report even if you are not able to answer all of the questions.

The identity of a person reporting concerns about an at-risk adult is confidential; he or she may remain anonymous when making a report. However, it is very helpful if the reporting person provides some means by which the caseworker can re-contact him or her for additional information. Getting additional information from the reporting person may help to provide a better outcome for the at-risk adult.

If the reporting person believes the person was at-risk and in danger and he or she made the report in good faith, there is no liability to the reporting person should the information provided turn out to be false or incomplete.

What happens when you report?

Each report made to Adult Protective Services (APS) is assessed by a caseworker and the APS supervisor.

Based on the safety issues presented in each report, a determination is made as to how and when to respond. If APS determines that a response, such as phone call and/or visit with the at-risk adult, is necessary, a timeframe for the response is determined to ensure that the most serious situations receive a high priority.

Some reports to APS require no or little additional response. Limited response is provided by APS if:

  • The adult is not an at-risk adult, as defined in statute, and/or
  • The issues reported do not involve mistreatment or self-neglect.

If the report falls into either or both of these categories, the reporter may be provided appropriate resource information and/or referral(s).

If APS determines that ongoing protective services are needed AND the at-risk adult consents to and accepts services, the caseworker assists the client until available services are in place and the client is as safe as possible.

If the caseworker determines that ongoing protective services are not needed, OR if the competent adult refuses services, the case may be closed.