Department Of Social Services Logo

About APS





APS Mission Statement

To protect vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation by investigating and providing temporary assistance until risk is minimized and services are secured.

APS Purpose

To provide intervention and protection for Vulnerable Adults who cannot provide care or protection for themselves in a manner that ensures attention will be given to the Adult’s right to self-determination, lifestyle and culture. These services must be provided in the least restrictive environment as determined by the Adult’s level of care and safety.

To report suspected Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation of a Vulnerable adult, call  1-888-CARE4US (1-888-227-3487) or click here to make a report online.



Overview of APS

 APS Responsibility

The Adult Protective Services (APS) Program is part of the Adult Advocacy Division of the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS).  The APS Program has the responsibility to investigate reports of maltreatment and provide protective services to vulnerable adults who are eighteen (18) years of age or older, reside within the community setting and are experiencing abuse, neglect or exploitation.


Statutory Authority

The Omnibus Adult Protection Act provides the APS Program the authority to investigate noncriminal reports of alleged abuse, neglect, and exploitation of Vulnerable Adults occurring in community settings such as the adult’s home.


APS Principals

  • Whenever possible, a vulnerable adult’s right to self-determination should be preserved.
  • Vulnerable adults have the right to be free from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation and reside in the least restrictive environment possible.
  • Adults have the right to make decisions that may not be considered “normal” as long as these decisions do not harm others.
  • Adults have the right to accept or refuse services.


When should APS intervene?

APS intervenes when all 4 of the following elements are present.

  1. The adult must meet the legal definition of vulnerable
  2. There must be an allegation of abuse, neglect and exploitation
  3. The abuse or neglect must have occurred in the community
  4. The abuse or neglect was at the hands of a caregiver or the vulnerable adult themselves.


APS History

The earliest study of APS in the United States was conducted in 1960. In 1968, there were only a small number of community-based APS programs in the country. The real drive for states to provide adult protective services came with the passage of Title XX of the Social Security Act in 1974.

In 1978, almost twenty states had protective services for adults, and by 1981, all 50 states, in one way or another, had an office that provided protective services to some part of the adult population. However, it wasn’t until 1993 that the Omnibus Adult Protection Act was passed. This is the law that governs APS in South Carolina. 

Source: National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA)

To report suspected Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult, call  1-888-CARE4US (1-888-227-3487) or click here to make a report online.

Child Welfare Services Transformation

Best Outcomes for Children and Families

Do you have a complaint regarding services being provided to a child by a state agency? Please submit your complaint by phone (1-800-206-1957) or an electronic submission form here with the South Carolina Department of Children's Advocacy.