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October 19, 2001

Elder Abuse Task Force Submits Report to Governor

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today received recommendations from the 31-member Elder Abuse Task Force he appointed last year to develop a plan to combat the growing problem of financial exploitation of seniors.

"Financial exploitation is the largest single category of abuse against older persons in our state," Governor Ryan said. "It is important that we assist our senior citizens to help them reduce their vulnerability and combat this abuse."

The task force is chaired by Illinois Department on Aging Director Margo E. Schreiber with Lt. Governor Corinne Wood serving as honorary chairperson.

Recommendations submitted by the Task Force to the Governor include:

  • Monitor the rate structure for caseworkers and support for the Illinois Department on Aging's Elder Abuse and Neglect Program and continue support for money management services for victims. (The Fiscal Year 02 budget for the program is $7.3 million and the program responds to between 7,500 and 8,000 reports of elder abuse each year).

  • Increase public education about the problem, and how and where to report suspected abuse. Suggestions include working with faith-based organizations as well as hospitals and other health care providers, and promoting more volunteerism.

  • Work with Triad, an organization comprised of law enforcement, criminal justice, state government, the financial industry, social service agencies and advocates, to help it train law enforcement officers about financial exploitation of seniors and build on Triad's efforts to coordinate services among various governmental entities.

  • Expand the Triad's outreach to State's Attorneys to encourage stronger prosecution of financial crimes against seniors.

  • Continue working with banks on B*SAFE (Bankers and Seniors Against Financial Exploitation) and expand training to seniors to prevent them from being victimized.

  • Explore replicating Oregon's retired bankers program, in which retired banking experts are recruited to help investigate financial abuse.

  • Assess potential for more investigators for the Illinois State Police Crimes Against Seniors Program.

  • Create "Fiduciary Abuse Specialist Teams" to focus on investigating and prosecuting financial crimes against seniors.

  • Work with Family Violence Coordinating Councils throughout the state to increase awareness of financial exploitation.

"Findings from the Summit on Aging that the Governor convened in 1999 reinforced the need to better protect vulnerable older people in Illinois from fraud and other crimes," Schreiber said.

"Protecting our seniors from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation should be a priority for all Illinois residents," Lt. Governor Wood said. "Clearly, we need more aggressive approaches to combat elder abuse, which is considered a vastly under-reported problem by experts."

Task Force members represent law enforcement, criminal justice, state government, the financial industry, social service agencies and advocates. Participants also include the Illinois Attorney General's Office, Illinois State Police and TRIAD.

"I want to thank Lt. Governor Wood, Director Schreiber and the members of the Task Force for their formulating these recommendations and focusing on new ways to prevent older citizens from being exploited," Governor Ryan said.


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