COLUMBIA, S.C. — Gov. Henry McMaster has declared February 2020 as Vulnerable Adult Awareness Month.

McMaster’s office recently issued a proclamation, according to the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

“Our states senior citizens and adults with disabilities are valued members of our families, our society and our communities,” the governor’s proclamation said. “[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, or physical, mental or emotional dysfunction.

Many vulnerable adults in South Carolina are served by the South Carolina Department of Social Services. In fiscal year 2018-19, the department provided services for 11,144 vulnerable adults.

The department also investigated 9,801 new reports of abuse, neglect, self-neglect or exploitation.

“Thousands of vulnerable adults in South Carolina suffer from abuse, neglect and exploitation every year,” said Kelly Cordell, director of adult advocacy. “The ... 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 the department’s Adult Protective Services is to assist vulnerable adults who are unable to protect themselves from abuse, neglect, self-neglect or exploitation.

For more information on Adult Protective Services, visit https://dss.sc.gov/abuseneglect/adult-protective-services/.

To report abuse and neglect of a vulnerable adult, contact your local DSS office. Phone numbers may be found at https://dss.sc.gov/contact/.

The number for Florence County is 843-669-3354. To report abuse press 5 when you reach the main menu.

Government and Politics Reporter

I cover the city of Florence, the county of Florence, the state legislative delegation of Florence County and surrounding areas, and the federal delegation representing the Pee Dee for the Morning News.

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