Elder Abuse Services, Inc. (EASI)
Assistance Now and a Safe Haven for Elder Victims Coming Soon
who we are
what we hope to achieve
Brief Description of the Program and its Rationale
Elder Abuse Services, Inc. (EASI), is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing shelter, victim advocacy, and coordinated case management services to victims of elder crime and abuse in the Fresno and Madera Counties. The concept of EASI originated in 2009 when a group of professors, some current and former students at California State University, Fresno, and community volunteers who had been working on local issues of victimization were discussing the needs of local elder abuse victims and gaps in services. This discussion evolved into a plan to create an emergency shelter for abused elders called the STAR (Seniors Transitioning to Assistance and Restoration) program. EASI is still seeking local community support, partnerships, and funding to hire key staff and to provide administrative support. We have since evolved our concept beyond just one shelter to operating a variety of sheltering options dedicated to serving abused elders in the Fresno and Madera Counties.
Fresno and Madera Counties lack existing resources that specifically serve victims of elder abuse who are in imminent risk of harm and in dire need of safe, confidentially located, emergency housing that includes supportive services. Currently these victims are sent to short-term facilities that are not designed to address the specific needs of these victims. Victims who are sent to these facilities report feeling out of place, isolated and warehoused in settings sometimes for young mothers and their children or the homeless. Staying with friends or relatives does not ensure their safety; and often, does not promote accessing services that could end the violence, promote independent functioning and ensure a safe and permanent home with peace, dignity and safety. EASI is committed to finding a solution for this critical need in the Fresno and Madera Counties.
In California, Sacramento is the only county where an elder abuse emergency shelter is operating, but it does not offer a Restorative Justice option which we have included as an option in our model. Thus, our project would be a model for California and could be replicated in other counties throughout California.
In developing our emergency sheltering model, EASI referred to a model that was successfully implemented in Edmonton and Waterloo in Canada. A distinct component of that model was the Restorative Justice concept, which not only allows for a range of care to be provided to these victims depending on their need, but also includes the option of repairing and restoring the relationship between the victim and the offender. We are convinced that, if the violence can end, this additional feature would greatly enhance the elder’s long-term well-being, as these (usually family) relationships are likely to be important to the elder’s future functioning in a harmonious and safe environment.
Furthermore, at CSUF, Fresno Pacific, and Fresno City College undergraduate and graduate every semester students are choosing to invest their internship time learning and working with EASI. These students, studying in the fields of social work, counseling, gerontology, women’s studies, psychology, sociology, criminology and victimology, are contributing many volunteer hours to help make the EASI mission a reality.
Program Goals and Objectives
EASI has six specific goals:
Provide emergency housing for elders when elders choose to remove themselves because they believe they are in imminent danger.
Provide transitional care for elder abuse victims from a place of abuse to a place of healing; striving for safety, self-reliance, and dignity.
Provide resources to prevent and reduce the further risk of abuse in these elders’ lives through temporary sheltering, advocacy, counseling, mediation, Restorative Justice, and legal representation.
Engage in outreach to diverse communities to provide culturally appropriate emergency housing and services for elder abuse victims.
Reduce suffering and facilitate recovery for all elder abuse victims served by EASI.
Restore the relationship between victims and abusers as an option in cooperation with the prosecutor; and, if it is in the victim’s best interest.
Proposed Components of Our Intended Process
Provide emergency sheltering services for abused elders who are in dire need of having a safe place to reside for up to at least three months.
Operate with a staff of one executive director, twenty-four-hour sheltering care staff, one secretary/bookkeeper, one victim advocate, and one victim case manager for full-time employment for at least three years. Staff size would be adjusted based on need.
Operate sheltering locations and supporting administrative activities with one central office containing desks, telephones, computers, a printer, a copy machine, filing cabinets, internet service, one liquid-screen television, and office supplies for at least three years.
Serve as many victims per year with sheltering and case management services to help these victims cope with the conflict that resulted in their victimization and the emergency that brought them to EASI’s attention.
Provide a biannual 40-hour basic training course required for all new volunteers and staff to become fully familiar with elder functioning, elder abuse issues, elder victim assistance resources, and social work case management.
Provide a 20-hour internship and volunteer required orientation course biannually.
Provide ongoing OJT training for all volunteers and paid staff to ensure their continuing competent practices.
Conduct annual evaluations of all EASI staff, volunteers, board members/activities, and services provided.
Conduct an annual audit of EASI’s services and fiscal operations using an outside auditor.
Provide educational information regarding elder abuse, needs for services, and EASI’s services to the community and its professionals.
Brief Description of the Population to be Served
EASI completed a comprehensive feasibility study of the Fresno and Madera Counties in 2010 to assess the target population. It included a survey of elders, assessments by experts in the field, and local demographic statistics. Some of the study’s findings were that the Fresno/Madera area is one of the most culturally diverse in the nation, with more than 70 ethnic groups and 105 languages spoken. It is anticipated that over the next twenty years there will be a significant increase and diversification of the elder population (Central California Institute for Healthy Aging, 2008). Out of the 58 counties in California surveyed, Fresno County ranked eighth, among those having the highest percentage of elders living below the national poverty level in 2006 (Federal Inter-agency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, 2006).
In 2010 approximately 120 cases related to elder abuse were referred to Adult Protective Services agencies in Fresno and Madera Counties annually. Among those, female clients accounted for 63% and one-fifth of them lived alone. Male clients made up 37% of this population. Psychological and mental abuse accounted for 31% of cases investigated and physical abuse accounted for 21%. A local survey of elders indicated, with significance, that elder victims were more likely to "feel vulnerable" and believe they "deserved to be treated with more respect."
At the initial phase of our proposed operation, given the limited resources and the priority of needs based on our feasibility study, this proposal for sheltering will accept only abused elders age 65 and older, who are residents in the Fresno and Madera counties. However, based on population projections, we envision the demand for EASI’s services will expand. We anticipate the need for additional resources to provide sheltering and support services for other specialized at risk elder populations (e.g., abused, homeless, and those with dementia or other medical needs).
EASI’s clients will be persons who self-refer or are referred by mandated local public agencies such as: victim assistance centers, Adult Protective Service agencies, law enforcement agencies, social service providers, elder service providers, health care providers, hospitals, and homeless and domestic violence shelters in the Fresno and Madera counties.
Description of the Evaluation Activities and Desired Outcomes
Based on the program mission, goals, and objectives a comprehensive evaluation will be conducted after each year of operation. The evaluation will include process and outcome assessments. Service statistics will be entered into a computer on a daily basis. The sheltering manager will be responsible for maintaining the records for all activities in the program, and he/she will release the monthly statistics and present them at each monthly Board of Directors’ meeting. The evaluation will focus on three areas: clients, staff, and program operations.