SC DSS observes February as Vulnerable Adult Awareness month

Gov. Henry McMaster has declared February 2020 as Vulnerable Adult Awareness Month in the state, which gives the South Carolina Department of Social Services the chance to highlight the agency’s Adult Advocacy Division.

“Our states senior citizens and adults with disabilities are valued members of our families, our society and our communities,” the Governor’s Proclamation states. “[The] observance of Vulnerable Adult Awareness Month reminds us of our shared responsibility to help ensure the health, safety, dignity and well-being of all disabled and elderly adults each and every day.”

A “vulnerable adult” is a person 18 or older who has a physical or mental condition which prevents the individual from providing for his or her own care or protection. This includes adults who are impaired because of brain damage, advanced age, and/or physical, mental or emotional dysfunction.

“Thousands of vulnerable adults in South Carolina suffer from abuse, neglect and exploitation every year,” said Kelly Cordell, Director of Adult Advocacy. “The APS staff must strike a balance, on a daily basis, between providing protection from abuse and neglect and recognizing the autonomy of individuals who are capable of making their own decisions.”

The goal of SCDSS’s Adult Protective Services is to assist vulnerable adults who are unable to protect themselves from abuse, neglect, self-neglect or exploitation.

In State Fiscal Year 2018-2019, DSS provided services for 11,144 vulnerable adults, and investigated 9,801 new reports of abuse, neglect, self-neglect or exploitation.

For more information on Adult Protective Services, visit

To report abuse and neglect of a vulnerable adult, please contact your local DSS office. Phone numbers may be found at

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.