Delaware Launches Hotline for Concerned Loved Ones to Protect Vulnerable Adults

In 2021, anonymous reports helped protect 2,184 vulnerable adults from potential abuse; new hotline makes reporting neglect, abuse and exploitation easy and confidential


NEWARK (Nov. 30, 2022) – The Delaware Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities (DSAAPD) today announced the launch of the new Adult Protective Services (APS) hotline – 888-APS-4302.

With one simple phone call, concerned individuals and those experiencing harm can connect with free, voluntary services and resources that could save a life. In 2021, more than 2,000 investigations of suspected abuse were conducted based on the reports from concerned and caring individuals.

“Just as we should check smoke detectors at Daylight Saving Time, the holidays are an important reminder to check on the well-being of those who are aging and vulnerable adults in our lives,” said Melissa Smith, director of the Delaware Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities. “To support family and friends across the state this holiday season and beyond, we’re proud to announce the new, easy-to-remember 24-hour hotline that anyone can use to ‘make the call’ and protect individuals who may not be able to protect themselves. You have the power to make a difference for a vulnerable adult who is experiencing harm by reporting to Adult Protective Services.”

Under Delaware law, a vulnerable adult is defined as a person 18 years of age or older who, because of isolation, sickness, debilitation, mental illness, or physical, mental or cognitive disability, is easily susceptible to harm.

Concerned individuals should call 888-APS-4302 if they suspect the occurrence of any of the following forms of harm:

  • Physical abuse – inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior
  • Sexual abuse – non-consensual sexual contact of any kind
  • Emotional abuse – inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on a vulnerable adult through verbal or nonverbal acts
  • Neglect – the failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable adult
  • Self-neglect – the failure of a person to perform essential, self-care tasks and that such failure threatens his/her own health or safety
  • Exploitation – the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a vulnerable adult for someone else’s benefit
  • Abandonment – desertion of a vulnerable adult by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person
  • Additional forms of harm – mistreatment, intimidation, manipulation or coercion

The new APS hotline makes reporting these types of harm easy and confidential.

Adult Protective Services also recently kicked off an awareness campaign across Delaware with a series of posters and digital public service announcements with the tagline “Make the Call” to reinforce awareness of the critical resource available to all.  

While voluntarily reporting harm is highly encouraged, certain professions are legally mandated to report. This includes groups such as caretakers and medical practitioners, as well as employees of financial institutions who have direct contact with a vulnerable adult and suspect financial exploitation. 

APS is not a law-enforcement agency, though it does provide information obtained from a report of abuse to partner state agencies and law enforcement. APS may only intervene with its free services and resources if accepted by the victim. Victims themselves also can report harm and are urged to do so.  

For more information about Adult Protective Services, including how to file a report, types of harm, and the resources and services available, visit

DPH Announces New Fentanyl Awareness Advertising Campaign

DOVER, DE (Nov. 29, 2022) ­– The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) announces the launch of a multimedia fentanyl campaign that targets youth, ages 14 through 25. This campaign aims to inform youth about what fentanyl is and that fentanyl can be found in various illicit drugs. This campaign highlights the risk of experimental drug use and the evolving drug market.  National research on drug use in the U.S. demonstrates that many substance users do not think they are at-risk for a drug overdose. Many youths believe that fentanyl is an isolated issue or located within certain communities. This campaign empowers individuals to have control over their decisions by reducing the gaps in knowledge around fentanyl. Counterfeit prescription drugs laced with fentanyl have been sold through social media. This campaign utilizes these social media outlets to educate youth on the presence of fentanyl.  


Fentanyl remains the deadliest drug threat facing this country. It is a highly addictive synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl is found in all 50 states.  Drug traffickers are mixing it with other types of drugs, in powder and pill form, to drive addiction and attract repeat buyers. It can be found in any illicit drug, including heroin, cocaine and fake/manufactured prescription pills (sold on the street as Adderall, Xanax, oxy, etc.).


Provisional drug overdose data for 2021 from the CDC estimates that there were over 100,000 deaths in the United States. This was a 15% increase from 2020. Included in this press release is data from the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System demonstrating polysubstance use in drug overdose deaths. The total number of drug overdose deaths in Delaware continues to increase. There was a 14% increase from 2020 to 2021 of overdose deaths in Delaware, 447 and 510 respectively. In 2021, fentanyl was listed as the main cause of death in 83.5% of the overdose deaths in Delaware. Cocaine averages 40% of all drug overdoses annually. The majority of those that die from an overdose have multiple drugs in their system at the time of an overdose.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction in Delaware, call the DHSS 24/7 Crisis Hotline to be connected to treatment and recovery options.  In New Castle County, call 1-800-652-2929. Or in Kent and Sussex counties, call 1-800-345-6785.


For free 24/7 counseling, coaching, and support, as well as links to mental health, addiction, and crisis services call the Delaware Hope Line at 1-833-9-HOPEDE. To search for treatment and recovery services in Delaware or nearby states, visit

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The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH), a division of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, is a nationally accredited public health agency recognized by the Public Health Accreditation Board for its outstanding dedication to driving change through innovation. DPH is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. 


Anyone who is deaf, hard of hearing, Deaf-Blind, or speech-disabled can contact DPH by first dialing 711 using specialized devices (i.e., TTY, TeleBraille, voice devices). The 711 service is free; to learn more about how it works, visit

Covid-19 Remains A Risk During Holiday Season As Does Flu And Other Respiratory Viruses

DOVER, DE (Nov. 18, 2022) – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) reports that the statewide 7-day average of new positive COVID-19 cases has decreased for the fourth consecutive month. Hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19 have remained low over the same time period. Average new positive cases are lowest in Kent County, with Sussex County only slightly higher. However, the 7-day average in New Castle County is almost three times that of Kent County and double the average for Sussex County. In general, the level of community spread remains low. 

Testing and vaccination remain our best tools to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as we prepare to gather with friends and family this holiday season. At-home testing is fast, convenient and reliable, especially for those who are feeling sick. If you test negative but still have symptoms, consider taking a second test within the timeframe described in manufacturer’s instructions. If the second test is still negative, contact your healthcare provider and consider you may have another respiratory virus like influenza (flu). 


Don’t let COVID-19 have a seat at your table this Thanksgiving.  Delawareans should remain vigilant to protect their loved ones from COVID-19 by following these key prevention strategies.


  • Stay home if sick.  Even if it’s not COVID-19, you don’t want to spread flu or other germs to those around you, especially older, very young or immunocompromised friends and family.
  • Get tested for COVID-19:
    • 1-2 days before a large gathering
    • If you have symptoms of COVID-19
    • Five (5) days after being exposed to someone confirmed to have COVID-19
  • Ensure your home or gathering place is properly ventilated. Click here for more information about improving ventilation in your home, including an online interactive ventilation tool. This easy-to-use tool helps you find the best combination of ventilation options in your home to decrease the level of COVID-19 particles in the air.
  • Wear a mask when out or around others if it makes you more comfortable or are immunocompromised.
  • Make sure you are up-to-date with your vaccines, especially the updated bivalent COVID-19 booster, and flu shot.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes if you are around others when they occur.
  • After a trip, travelers are recommended to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, and isolate and get tested if symptoms develop.


It is important to remember eligible individuals can get either the Pfizer or Moderna updated bivalent booster, regardless of whether their primary series or most recent dose was with Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax or the Johnson & Johnson (J & J) vaccine. As per the CDC recommendations, the new bivalent booster replaces the existing monovalent vaccine booster, therefore that vaccine will no longer be authorized for use as a booster dose in people ages 5 and up. The bivalent booster is for those who completed their primary series, or previous boosters, two or more months ago. 

The Novavax vaccine is also authorized as a monovalent booster dose for adults ages 18 and older, at least 6 months after completing primary vaccination with Pfizer, Moderna or Novovax, or two months after J&J who have NEVER received a previous booster. Adults may choose to receive a Novavax booster instead of an updated Pfizer or Moderna booster if they are allergic to mRNA vaccines, or they don’t wish to get an mRNA vaccine. For more information on boosters, visit 



DPH encourages individuals to get their booster at the same time as they get their annual flu vaccine, either in the same arm at least one inch apart, or in different arms. As of Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, a total of 598 influenza cases were reported for the week of Nov. 6 to Nov. 12, an increase from the prior week. This brings the total number of influenza cases for the season to 1,404. While cases are increasing, influenza-related hospitalizations remain low at 23 statewide for the current season. 

As flu cases rise this season, only 26% of Delawareans have received their annual flu vaccine. The CDC encourages everyone 6 months older to get their annual flu vaccine by Thanksgiving. Flu vaccines and bivalent boosters are available at DPH clinics, many pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers and some community events. You can find a list of locations for COVID vaccines at or at Locations for flu vaccines can be found on the flu finder on the webpage. More details on the bivalent booster can be found at  


Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is another respiratory virus of concern. Cases are beginning to decline, but remain relatively high. During the week of Nov. 6 to Nov. 12, there were 102 laboratory-confirmed cases of RSV reported among Delaware residents with 606 total cases for the 2022-2023 season.


The co-circulation of COVID-19, flu and RSV continues to be a concern for Delaware. The three viruses have contributed to a strain on the health care system, and DPH urges the public to practice prevention guidelines to help reduce the impact and allow hospitals to continue caring for those who are seriously ill. Though a vaccine does not yet exist for RSV, it’s not too late to get critical protection from the flu if you not yet received a flu vaccine Close to half of the nearly 1,500 Delaware flu cases reported this season, occurred between Nov. 6 and Nov. 12. Getting the flu vaccine reduces the chance of getting sick. While it is still possible to get the flu even after you’ve been vaccinated, the vaccine reduces the severity of illness if you do get sick.


The below data is as reported on Delaware’s My Healthy Community data portal on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022.  


COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations:  

  • Total positive cases since March 11, 2020: 315,440*
  • 7-day daily average of new positive cases: 105.9, a decrease of 40.5 average new positive cases reported since Oct 14, 2022  
  • 7-day daily average for the percentage of total positive tests: 6.7 percentage points, a decrease of 3.2 percentage points reported since Oct. 14, 2022  
  • Hospitalizations: 99 current hospitalizations; critically ill: 5
  • Total COVID-19 deaths: 3,163, an increase of 42 since last month, including 39 as a result of ongoing Vital Statistics review of deaths occurring between June and October.*Case and testing data are based on reporting of lab-confirmed COVID-19 tests only. The number of COVID-19 cases in the community is higher than what is reported because of the use of at-home test kits. 

COVID-19 Vaccinations:  

  • Total number of doses administered in Delaware:2,051,226
  • Percentage of Delawareans 5+ who are fully vaccinated (CDC data): 76.1%  
  • Percentage of Delawareans 12+ who are fully vaccinated (CDC data): 80.2%  
  • Percentage of Delawareans 18+ who are fully vaccinated (CDC data): 81.7%  
  • Percent of Delawareans who are fully vaccinated (CDC data): 72%  

COVID-19 Case Vaccination Status Report:  The following reports capture a weekly breakdown of non-boosted cases, deaths, and hospitalizations for the time frame of Oct 31 – Nov 6, 2022.    

Non-boosted: Case – Hospital – Death


Weekly Overview(10/31/22 – 11/06/22)

Not up-to-date Cases

Total Not up-to-date Cases


Total Cases


Percent of Not up-to-date Cases


Not up-to-date Hospitalized Cases

Total Not up-to-date Hospitalized Cases


Total Hospitalized Cases


Percent of Not up-to-date Cases


Not up-to-date Deaths

Total Not up-to-date Deaths


Total COVID-19 Deaths


Percent of Not up-to-date Deaths




Note: Case and Hospitalization Count: based on RTS (Report to State Date) Death: based on DoD (Date of Death)  


Long-term Care Statistics:  

As of Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, there have been a total of 4,837 positive COVID-19 cases involving long-term care residents, and 1,000 residents of Delaware long-term care facilities have died from complications related to COVID-19. 



Individuals with general questions about COVID-19 should call Delaware 2-1-1, individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211, or email Hours of operation are:  


  • Monday – Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.  
  • Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  

Medically related questions regarding testing, symptoms, and health-related guidance can be submitted by email at  DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response, go to 




The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH), a division of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, is a nationally accredited public health agency recognized by the Public Health Accreditation Board for its outstanding dedication to driving change through innovation. DPH is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.  


A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit 

Division of Public Health’s Maternal Child Health Bureau, Delaware 211 Celebrate 10 Years of Help Me Grow Delaware

DOVER, DE (Nov. 17, 2022) — The Maternal Child Health Bureau of the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH), Delaware 2-1-1 and other state and community organizations proudly recognized Help Me Grow Delaware during an event celebrating Help Me Grow’s 10th anniversary on Nov. 9 at the Route 9 Library & Innovation Center in New Castle. The program utilizes a systems-based approach to connect families with the resources they need to help their children thrive.  

Event organizers read a proclamation from the Office of the Governor highlighting the program’s accomplishments to include the community resource fair hosted on Nov 9. The supporters below received plaques for their contribution to the program. 

  • Matthew Denn – As former attorney general, lieutenant governor, and insurance commissioner, Denn dedicated much of his public service to addressing issues impacting children. As insurance commissioner for Delaware, he was instrumental in helping to pass legislation that mandated insurance coverage of developmental screenings and provided funding to promote screenings in primary care, improving access across the state. 
  • Norma Everett – As the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Manager, Everett built community stakeholder relations to improve conditions for Delaware families and opened the door for collaboration that resulted in the passing of developmental screening legislation in 2009. 
  • Dr. Aguida Atkinson – Dr. Atkinson spent her career advocating for community health. As a Help Me Grow physician champion, she continues to work toward improving Delaware’s early childhood system through collaboration and innovation.

Help Me Grow Delaware was founded in 2012 and is a comprehensive and coordinated statewide system for the early identification and referral of children at risk for developmental and behavioral challenges. The program helps families find community-based programs and services to enhance their child’s behavior, learning and development. 

“We know children make up the largest segment of people living in poverty and that one in six children ages 3 to 17 will have one or more developmental or behavioral disabilities,” said Crystal Sherman, section chief of DPH’s Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Bureau. “Identifying health and developmental issues early in a child’s life is essential to obtaining long-term positive outcomes. Help Me Grow connects families — particularly new and expecting parents — with the needed resources and services.”

The impact of Help Me Grow Delaware is significant. The program has helped numerous families in the past decade by identifying their most imminent needs.  

Help Me Grow By the Numbers: 

  • 19,693 — Total calls, with 17,076 children served through Help Me Grow’s centralized access point 2-1-1
  • 10,210 — Combined total number of the most sought-after services and necessities requested by a parent/caregiver. These include:  
    • Home visiting through the Delaware Home Visiting Program 
    • Basic needs such as clothing, car seats and furniture  
    • Diapers 
    • WIC 
    • Childcare
  • 4,574 — Total number of screenings completed through community outreach activities
  • 1,961 — Total referrals to targeted service providers by 
  •                Help Me Grow via 2-1-1
  • 1,571 — Total cases in which parents/caregivers reported behavioral and  
  •                developmental concerns to Help Me Grow through 2-1-1

Delaware 2-1-1 is a confidential, toll-free help hotline from the United Way and DPH. Families who call 2-1-1 can speak directly with Help Me Grow Delaware’s trained child development specialists, who will help them find services in their area. Specialists also utilize early detection screenings to identify potential developmental delays to guide parents, educators and providers to resources that will address these concerns.  

To learn more, visit  




Anyone who is deaf, hard of hearing, Deaf-Blind or speech disabled can contact DPH by dialing 711 first using specialized devices (i.e., TTY, TeleBraille, and voice devices). The 711 service is free and to learn more about how it works, visit 

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. 

Focus Group Insights Help Guide Future Enhancements to Family Caregiver Services at DHSS

NEWARK (Nov. 14, 2022) – The Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities (DSAAPD) is using the findings from a report based on caregiver focus groups held late last year across the state to enhance its current supports and develop a new approach to caregiver services. This includes the formation of the Delaware Action Network for Caregivers, a forum where caregivers can learn and collaborate with agencies supporting caregivers. Its inaugural meeting will be held Nov. 29, 2022, during National Family Caregivers Month.

DSAAPD released the report today, compiled by Wilder Research, which builds on the Division’s efforts to better support unpaid family caregivers throughout the lifespan.

“Family caregivers play a significant role in supporting parents, children, siblings, and other loved ones who need care for a variety of reasons,” said DSAAPD Director Melissa Smith. “Many older adults prefer to remain in their homes for as long as possible, and families often prefer to care for their children and other family members at home. However, caregiving can have major impacts on caregivers’ health and well-being. Providing supports to these individuals and helping them access the resources they need is critically important.”

Four main themes emerged from eight focus group sessions that included 38 participants:

Family caregiver characteristics and experiences
According to the AARP report, Caregiving in the United States 2020, caregiving cuts across generations, race and ethnicity, income and family composition, among other identifiers. The characteristics of the caregivers who participated in the local focus groups affirms this observation. However, the information shared by the caregivers during the focus groups showed that there is no one “typical” caregiver and no one “typical” caregiver experience. Needs and expectations vary and can be constantly in flux.

Lack of awareness of services and difficulty locating useful information
Focus group participants expressed a lack of full information about what services might be available to them as one of the most common barriers to accessing supports.

In addition, focus group participants expressed frustration with the amount of time and effort required to navigate systems and find supports.

Concerns about the reliability and quality of services
Focus group participants discussed difficulties in arranging for services. Many factors contribute to this, including the limited availability of paid staff, cost of care, uncertainties about whether caregivers can trust the information or abilities of paid staff, and care recipients’ reluctance to have unfamiliar people care for them.

Financial impact of caregiving
Families are asked to make difficult choices about finances and managing necessary care. Participants discussed the high cost of medical care and the challenges of navigating insurance coverage. In addition, paid employment can be difficult to manage in the face of caregiving responsibilities.

This project was funded through grant support from the National Academy of State Health Policy (NASHP) and the John Hartford Foundation. Read the full report on the DSAAPD website. For more information about the Delaware Action Network for Caregivers, call the Delaware Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) at 1-800-223-9074.