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Library: Policy

340:5-5-2. Initiating investigations

Revised 9-15-21

        An Adult Protective Services (APS) specialist initiates an investigation by a visit to the vulnerable adult who is the alleged victim (AV) at the adult's location or residence.  • 1

(1) Time frame for initiating investigations.

(A) The APS specialist initiates the maltreatment investigation as soon as possible within five-business days, not to exceed 120 hours from the time APS received the report, excluding weekends and official state holidays.  2

(B) In an urgent situation, when prompt action may be required, the APS specialist initiates the investigation within 24 hours of receipt. 3

(2) Denial of access to the AV.  When the APS specialist is denied entry into the AV's residence or is denied a private interview with the AV, Oklahoma Human Services petitions the court for an order allowing entry or access. 2


Revised 9-15-23

1.  (a) Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) Adult Protective Services (APS) specialist IV or designee discusses any safety issues identified during screening with the APS specialist prior to the initial         visit.  The APS specialist and the APS specialist IV or designee:

(1) staff the report and case record to determine risk factors; and

(2) determine if the home visit can be made safely, and what precautions are taken.  When necessary, the APS specialist follows:

(A) hazard protocol using program resources;

(B) warning protocol, including law enforcement; or

(C) stop-authority protocol and refers the situation to law enforcement, when the specialist cannot enter the home after first considering (A) and (B) of this paragraph.

(b) After safety concerns are addressed, the APS specialist plans the home visit and:

(1) provides documentation of planned field contact to the APS specialist IV or designee.  When there are major changes in the schedule the APS specialist informs the APS specialist IV or designee of the changes; and

(2) notifies the APS specialist IV or designee when the APS specialist leaves and returns.  When the APS specialist plans to go home after the last field visit, he or she notifies the APS specialist IV or designee after the last visit is finished even if it is an after hours visit.

(c) APS specialists keep personal protective equipment (PPE) for use when making home visits.

(1) Program-issued PPE consists of:

(A) a respiratory mask;

(B) surgical gloves;

(C) boots and boot covers;

(D) shoe covers;

(E) a head cover;

(F) disinfectant; and

(G) disposal bags that may also be used as vehicle seat covers.

(2) The APS specialist also carries:

(A) an OKDHS-issued cell phone;

(B) one change of clothing; and

(C) clean towels for self-decontamination.

(d) When preparing to park and leave the vehicle, the APS specialist:

(1) programs the phone so that a 911 call can be made;

(2) parks in an open area and near a light source that offers the safest walking route to the home;

(3) locates the alleged victim's (AV) building, when possible before exiting the car when the AV's residence is in an apartment complex;

(4) parks on the street rather than in a driveway and in the direction in which the APS specialist plans to leave; and

(5) takes only the items necessary to complete the home visit.  Purses or wallets and personal items are concealed when left in the locked car.

(e) When approaching the residence, the APS specialist:

(1) looks and listens for signs of someone in the residence and assesses if there is any indication of danger involving the occupants;

(2) is aware of any smells associated with substance use or abuse;

(3) observes the outside of the residence, the surrounding homes, and any animals or suspicious vehicles; and

(4) if newly discovered risk factors indicate warning protocol, the specialist leaves and staffs with the APS specialist IV or designee.

(f)  To make a safe entrance into the residence, the APS specialist:

(1) goes only to the door that is in plain sight of the street and stands to the side of the door when knocking;

(2) as the door is opened, looks quickly inside to determine if there are any safety threats;

(3) does not enter the home when an unseen person calls for the APS specialist to come in; and

(4) quickly evaluates the AV's attitude and demeanor to determine if there are warning signs of aggression, violence, substance use, or suspicious behavior.

(g) When the specialist is accompanied by law enforcement on a home visit, he or she remains outside of the residence until law enforcement determines it is safe to enter.

(h) When the APS specialist is denied entry into the home, he or she does not attempt to aggressively persuade the AV to allow access to the home.  When denied, the APS specialist leaves the residence and consults with an APS specialist IV.

(i) When in the AV's residence, the APS specialist is particularly aware of any signs of risk to safety.  When the APS specialist is inside the AV's residence, the specialist:

(1) stays near an exit and remains alert and observant;

(2) pays attention to any unusual sights or odors, particularly those associated with the manufacture or use of drugs;

(3) remains aware of the possibility of any other persons in the residence and inquires about anyone that may appear to be in another room; and

(4) leaves immediately if there is risk to safety.

(j) When leaving the AV's residence, the APS specialist remains alert to safety risks by:

(1) observing any activity or persons near the residence or in the neighborhood;

(2) having the car keys in hand when walking to the car; and

(3) not lingering to make phone calls or notes and leaves the neighborhood immediately.

(k) When an APS specialist has an ongoing APS case where there were or are new allegations of methamphetamine use or manufacture, the same precautions are taken as in an initial visit.

(l) APS specialist IVs and designees stay informed about the most current indicators of methamphetamine production and provide the information to staff. 

(1) Outbuildings, hotel and motel rooms, apartments, storage sheds, garages, and vacant buildings are all common places where methamphetamine is produced.  Some of the indicators of methamphetamine use and production identified by Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control are:

(A) a strong odor of urine or unusual chemicals, such as ether, ammonia, or acetone;

(B) little or no traffic around the home during the day but significant activity during very late hours;

(C) extra efforts made to cover windows or to reinforce doors;

(D) trash not put out for collection;

(E) a significant accumulation of items, such as cooking dishes, coffee filters, or bottles that do not appear to be for regular household use;

(F) the presence of unusual quantities of chemicals; and

(G) vehicles loaded with laboratory materials or chemicals.

(2) The APS specialist, in initiating an investigation alleging use or production of methamphetamine:

(A) requests law enforcement to accompany him or her;

(B) remains in the car until law enforcement determines the residence is safe to enter; and

(C) does not enter the residence under any circumstances when there is evidence of a methamphetamine laboratory.

(3) When evidence of a methamphetamine laboratory either outside or inside the residence is encountered, the APS specialist:

(A) does not enter any residence where there is any evidence of methamphetamine laboratory materials or chemicals on the property;

(B) discreetly, but immediately leaves the residence when he or she unknowingly enters a home in which there is evidence of a methamphetamine laboratory, and drives to a safe location to contact law enforcement; and

(C) follows self-decontamination procedures, per (l)(4) of this Instruction.

(4) When there is any exposure to a methamphetamine laboratory, self-decontamination procedures are followed.  The APS specialist:

(A) covers car seats and floorboards with plastic covering and wipes his or her hands with disinfectant wipes before touching the steering wheel

(B) goes to a safe location to change clothes and place the dirty clothes in a disposal bag.  All exposed skin surfaces are cleaned with disinfectant wipes; and

(C) washes any items carried into the home with soap and water.

(m) The APS specialist coordinates with law enforcement to ensure the safety of any vulnerable adult who was likely exposed to a methamphetamine laboratory. 

(1) The APS specialist arranges transportation for the vulnerable adult in cooperation and coordination with law enforcement.

(2) The vulnerable adult is taken immediately for a medical examination. 

(n) When the vulnerable adult is in the hospital or other temporary residence at the time of the referral, the initial visit is made to that location.  A visit to the vulnerable adult's residence may be made at the discretion of the APS specialist IV or designee.

(o) The initial home visit is not preceded by a phone call or appointment and is made unannounced.

(p) When the AV cannot be located, the APS specialist documents efforts to locate the AV in the APS Computer System by checking the "Initial Interview" on the APS Computer System, and documenting the specifics in the Interview Section. 

(q) When the AV cannot be located, the APS specialist IV or designee, at his or her discretion may direct one or two more attempts to locate.

2.  An APS specialist IV or designee may determine that a more prompt initiation is required.  When the APS specialist does not receive the referral timely, the APS specialist makes the face-to-face visit or phone initiation as soon as possible and documents the reason for delay in the APS Computer System Notes Section.

3.  At the time of intake, the Abuse and Neglect Hotline specialist determines whether the situation is urgent and immediately communicates the determination to the APS on-call person when the call is received after normal business hours and on holidays. An APS specialist IV or designee may determine that a more prompt initiation is required. When an investigation is not initiated timely, the reasons are documented in the APS Computer System Notes Section.

4.(a) When the APS specialist is denied access to the AV, the APS specialist notifies the AV or the AV's caretaker that an investigation must be completed.  When the AV or the caretaker continues to deny access to the AV, the APS specialist, in consultation with the APS specialist IV or designee documents the situation in the Notes Section and makes a decision to:

(1) contact law enforcement to assist in gaining access to the AV;

(2) contact other persons who may be able to assist in gaining access to the AV; or

(3) petition the court for an entry order.

(b) To petition the court for an entry order, the APS specialist contacts the local district attorney or OKDHS Legal Services for assistance.

(1) When the court grants the entry order, the APS specialist notifies law enforcement to enforce the entry order.  Law enforcement is responsible for gaining access to the AV.  The APS specialist requests law enforcement remain with him or her for the duration of the interview and home assessment.

(2) When the court denies the entry order, the APS specialist consults with the APS specialist IV or designee to develop a plan to complete the investigation, when possible.  The APS specialist IV or designee may consult with the district program field representative and district director or State Office staff as needed.

(c) The APS specialist documents all activities in the APS Computer System Interview Section and scans copies of any court orders in the APS Computer System.