Protective Services


Adults at Risk (ages 18 - 59)

Call the Adult Protective Services Helpline at (608) 261-9933 to report suspected abuse or neglect of adults with disabilities who are age 18 - 59. These situations may involve physical, emotional, financial or sexual abuse, neglect by others or self neglect. The Helpline is operated by Adult Protective Services.

What happens when an Adult at Risk concern is reported?

Upon receiving a report of abuse, material abuse, neglect or self-neglect, Dane County Department of Human Services will conduct an investigation of the reported abuse. The initial goal of an investigation is to verify the safety of the person alleged to be at risk and to inform them of their rights under state laws. The scope of the investigation may include the following:

  • A visit to the residence of the person alleged to be at risk.
  • Observation of the person alleged to be at risk.
  • An interview with the at risk person. Whenever possible, this interview shall be private.
  • An interview with other individuals who are aware of the person and the situation. (The nature of an individual’s relationship to the at risk person is considered before contacting them.)
  • A review of treatment and health care records.

Once the initial goal is met, Dane County Department of Human Services or another agency specializing in services to adults with disabilities may work with the individual to identify additional resources that may be of assistance.

Important things to know about reporting

  • Given the sensitive nature of abuse situations and the impact a report has on families and individuals, the Adults at Risk investigator attempts to establish communications in the least intrusive manner possible.
  • The reporter of suspected abuse/neglect can request to remain anonymous and Wisconsin law, Chapter 46.90, protects their identity.
  • The person who is the subject of the abuse/neglect report may refuse the investigation or services. If the person is competent and refuses the investigation, the investigation ceases. (Competence refers to an individual’s capacity to make informed decisions and does not refer to the quality of the decisions being made.)
  • A commitment to protecting a competent person’s right of self-determination is the guiding principal during the investigation process.