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Arkansas agency closes backlog of adult abuse investigations

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A state agency that investigates reports of abuse or neglect of adults in Arkansas has closed its backlog of nearly 9,000 cases.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services recently notified lawmakers that its Aging, Adult and Behavioral Health Services Division has successfully eliminated a case backlog that had been building up for years, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The backlog was the result of caseworkers accepting all calls as investigative cases and often skipping administrative steps needed to officially close investigations, according to department spokeswoman Marci Manley. State law requires caseworkers to close investigations within 60 days of receiving the first report.

The decision to accept all calls to create cases came after division officials became concerned several years ago that employees were being “overly aggressive” in screening out complaints, Manley said.

The agency also saw an increase in calls to its hotline as efforts grew to educate people about reporting suspicions of abuse and neglect.

Mark White, the division’s deputy director, said there are now just 168 cases that need further investigation from the agency that examines allegations of physical abuse, caregiver neglect, self-neglect and exploitation of adults who are unable to protect themselves.

“Even though the investigation was complete, we had some concerns about these individuals,” White said.

Staff members are visiting those individuals to make sure they’re safe, he said.

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