Bureau of Advocacy, Protection and Education

The Bureau for Advocacy, Protection and Education consists of the Ombudsman Division, Consumer Protection Division and the Healthy Aging, Education, and Outreach Division. It is responsible for advocacy, as well as protecting and educating the population on aging and long-term care services and options. These responsibilities include coordinating advocacy, protection, and education activities among appropriate state agencies, enforcement entities, and the general public. The bureau also fosters organizational synergy in priority growth areas consistent with the Governor’s agenda for long-term care such as increasing volunteerism and civil engagement and strengthening senior protections and healthy aging and wellness.

Ombudsman Division
Mandated by federal and state legislation, the Ombudsman Program involves designing, implementing, and managing a statewide reporting and investigative system to deal effectively with complaints made by or on behalf of older consumers of long-term care services. The division advocates for improvements in long-term care services through:

  • Analyzing and monitoring federal and state legislation that impact consumers of long-term care services; 
  • Providing training and sanction for representatives who provide local ombudsman services; and, 
  • Providing technical assistance and information to local ombudsman and consumers of long-term care services.

The Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) act as the local providers of ombudsman services and coordinates the efforts and functions of all AAAs to ensure an effective complaint process at the local level.

Consumer Protection Division
The Consumer Protection Division is responsible for services that protect older Pennsylvanians against fraud, abuse, and neglect, and for managing the criminal history background check process. The division directs the administration of the Older Adult Protective Services Program for the prevention and treatment of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Responsibility includes:

  • Coordinating protective services through the AAAs; 
  • Developing and ensuring implementation of protective services’ programs, policies, and procedures; 
  • Providing technical assistance to the AAAs along with, monitoring to ensure compliance with statute and regulations, conducting staff training; and, 
  • Collecting data and reports on elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Healthy Aging, Education and Outreach Division
The Healthy Aging, Education and Outreach Division has oversight for all health and consumer education programs initiated by the department, including the APPRISE Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program and the PrimeTime Health Promotion Program. The division coordinates logistics for the department’s training activities, including statewide training and provides a calendar listing the training events. The division also develops, produces and distributes consumer publications for the department. The division is charged with the overall quality and content administration of the Information and Referral services, including oversight of the Department’s Information and Referral help lines, websites and other outreach media campaigns.