APS and COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions and Use of New SSIS Sub-service Code 87-COVID-19 Related

Minnesota Department of Human Services logo

Adult Protection - Aging and Adult Services

dhs.adultprotection@state.mn.us - (651) 431-2609

April 1,2020

APS and COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions


Use of New SSIS Sub-service Code 87-COVID-19 Related



Q: Can MAARC ask COVID-19 exposure risk screening questions?

DHS Guidance: Screening for COVID-19 risk exposure by MAARC subjects the reporter to unnecessary questions as most reports should not result in a face to face interview. Assessment for COVID-19 risk exposure conducted by MAARC would not provide timely information for APS whose response may not be the date of the report.

Please note: The CDC identifies COVID-19 may be spread before people show symptoms and the virus spreads easily and sustainably in the community. Risk assessment tools may not be an accurate representation of the presence of virus.

Q: Should APS conduct face to face interviews, assessments, or intervention?

DHS Guidance: Adult protection should conduct face to face interview, assessment or intervention only when there is no other method to meet a critical health and safety need of the vulnerable adult.

Supervisors should review each report to include evaluation of risk vs. benefit of in-person assessment for the vulnerable adult.

Expand intake and assessment activity for supplemental fact gathering to identify potential risks to the vulnerable adult and worker from unintentional exposure, identify collateral sources of information and informal supports who could be engaged for protective interventions in a changing service system. Work with the agency's legal counsel on data practices issues associated with expanded intake and collateral support contacts during a period of state and national emergency.

Q: What options are there for assessment, investigation and intervention that do not involve face to face contact?

DHS Guidance: Possible alternative methods to face to face contact:

    • Use reliable collateral sources of information
    • Employ phone, pictures, video, and other technology
    • Make contact with VA by phone and ask them to stand at a window or a glass door where you can visually see them through the barrier
    • Consider whether written communication with the VA, such as a letter or email, could be effective and safe. Be mindful of who else has access to such communication, including alleged perpetrators
    • Coordinate with partners for response to reports including: state agency LIAs, law enforcement; providers; ombudsman; Senior, Disability and Veteran Linkage Lines; family, primary support persons and informal supports which may be engaged to respond to the maltreatment of the vulnerable adult

DHS Adult Protection Resource Specialists (APRS) are available for case consults.

Q: Can DHS allow longer timelines for completion of reports and other paperwork?

DHS Guidance: DHS does not believe it is necessary to waive or modify time frames, because Adult protection is a county administered essential human service. DHS does not regulate or penalize counties for compliance on time frames for documentation or for initial or final disposition in response to maltreatment reports.

Q: Do emergency workers and critical sector workers under Emergency Executive Order 20-20 include adult protection?

DHS Guidance: Yes. Adult protection is an essential human service program responsible to respond immediately to reports of suspected maltreatment of a vulnerable adult made to the 24/7 common entry point operated by the commissioner. Adult protective services assess and offer emergency protective services to safeguard the vulnerable adult and prevent further maltreatment. Adult protection provides a critical  social service response to protect vulnerable adults during a time of state and national emergency.

Q: What if APS is unable to answer an EPS phone notification from MAARC timely?

DHS Guidance: Effective 1/2/2020, MAARC no longer makes EPS phone notifications to County APS or the agency’s after-hours designee between 8:00am Monday and 3:00pm Friday when DHS or MDH is the LIA. EPS phone notifications are only made between 3:00pm, Friday and 8:00am Monday (or next business day) and 3:00pm before a state designated holiday until 8:00am the next business day. 

Q: Will DHS provide information about reporting trends in the state as things progress?

DHS Guidance: DHS Adult Protection Unit is developing enhanced capabilities to track reporting trends that may be COVID-19 related. Regular communications from DHS AP Unit will be provided to support APS in monitoring state-wide trends that may impact local agencies. 

Sub-service code for COVID-19

Effective March 12, 2020, the Social Service Information System (SSIS) released a statewide sub-service code “87 – COVID-19”  that allows for tracking of work and activities related to COVID-19.  Sub-service code 87 – COVID-19 is available for APS intake and assessment workgroups and can be used to indicate expanded intake or assessment in response to COVID-19 and used for contacts that are made “in lieu of face-to-face” visits in time records. Agencies can also use this sub-service code to indicate payments specifically used for COVID-19 related expenditures.

A DHS bulletin will be issued with instructions on how to use both of these new functions. If your agency has questions related to COVID-19 additions please contact the SSIS Help Desk and include “COVID-19 tracking (Agency Name)” in the subject line.

SSIS Sub-Service Code 87 -  COVID-19 Related

APS Resources:

Administration for Community Living (ACL)  APS Technical Assistance and Resource Center (TARC) COVID-19 Education Brief

To find the most up-to-date information for providers, counties, tribes and members of the public, visit the DHS COVID-19 webpage.

For the latest information on MN public health recommendations, visit MDH COVID-19

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19

COVID-19 Hotline:

Health questions: 651-207-3920 or 1-800-657-3903 (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.)

DHS guidance to Minnesota Adult Protection Policy and Procedures for county administered APS during COVID-19 state and national emergency provided on 3-16-20, 3-18-20, and 3-24-20 is now available on the DHS Adult Protection Partners and Providers web page under Adult Protection: news, initiatives, reports, work groups COVID-19 and Impacts on Adult Protective Services

DHS Adult Protection Resource Specialists (APRS) are available for case consultation dhs.adultprotection@state.mn.us or 651-431-2609.

Kindness, patience, ethical practices and following public health advice will get us through this. Take care!