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Alabama DHR hopes to expand adult foster care to address needs

Alabama is working towards adding an adult foster care home in every county as reports of adult abuse rise in the state.

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Gov. Kay Ivey proclaimed June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to raise awareness and encourage more residents to open their homes to vulnerable Alabamians.

The Alabama Department of Human Resources is looking to add an adult foster care home for elderly and adult residents in each of Alabama’s 67 counties. 

Alabama’s elderly and disabled can find themselves in circumstances that make them more vulnerable and in need of an alternative form of care, and the need for adult foster care homes is only growing.

As of 2023, there are 21 adult foster care homes across 18 counties, with three of those in Morgan County. The monthly average of abuse and neglect reports in 2023 was 738.

Reports of adult abuse, neglect or exploitation have been rising steadily since 2020 and have increased 125 percent in the last decade. These numbers will decrease by certifying more qualified and capable adult foster homes.

With an increase in public awareness, adult abuse reports are expected to continue rising and adults are living longer. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2020 that 18 percent of Alabama residents were over the age of 65.

Abuse of adults comes in many forms, such as physical or emotional abuse, sexual abuse, not providing adequate care and financial exploitation.

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Adult abuse can happen in homes, nursing homes or assisted living residencies and can come from the hands of anyone from family members to professionals to absolute strangers. While it can occur anywhere, most reports of adult abuse come from within homes. 

By relocating those who suffer from adult abuse to a family-style home, DHR can leave spaces in institutional settings that might be more suitable for someone who requires around-the-clock care.

Adults placed in the Adult Foster Care program can live safely on their own but may require some assistance in daily life, and those who participate say it’s a rewarding experience for both parties involved.

Mary Claire is a reporting intern.

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