Guest Blog: Elder Abuse Summit


Written By: Eileen Rodden, Women’s Center of Jacksonville & Regina Vought, Florida State Attorney’s Office, 4th Judicial Circuit  

The Elder Abuse Summit was held at the Duval County Courthouse Sept. 29 – 30.  Two trainers, Candace Heisler, JD, and Judge Janice Martin from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges provided the training under the Abuse in Later Life OVW grant. Twenty-three judges, nineteen elder law attorneys and professional guardians, and forty representatives from area elder-serving agencies completed the training.

According to Judge Gary P. Flower, Fourth Judicial Circuit, “Impressed by the training I received last year in Atlanta, I came away determined to ensure that Elder Abuse training was made available to other judicial officers and law enforcement representatives within the Women’s Center of Jacksonville grant service area. I envisioned an Elder Abuse Summit where all of the stakeholders could meet to discuss resources and needs and establish study circles to continue the momentum built up. The summit was the culmination of a year’s work with the planning team from the Women’s Center. Attendees left both intrigued and reenergized, with a new sense of purpose and dedication to the protection of some of our most vulnerable citizens,” the Honorable Gary P. Flower concluded.

Under the leadership of the Women’s Center of Jacksonville, the Abuse in Later Life project completed a needs assessment of older adults and developed an outreach service and strategic plan pinpointing where grant dollars should be spent to enhance services to victims of elder abuse. 

“In addition to judges training, this grant has provided training for prosecutors at the State Attorney’s Office (SAO), and they, in turn, will provide cross-training to other prosecutors. We are fortunate to have project partners including the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) who have provided space at the Criminal Justice Center for our Law Enforcement Training team to deliver elder abuse training to detectives, investigators, elder law attorneys and patrol officers.  ElderSource, another project partner, has opened their training room to the project for the delivery of Victim Service Training on Elder Abuse.  As a result of this concerted effort, we have trained over 100 law enforcement and 40 victim service and affiliated service providers,” commented Eileen Rodden, Abuse in Later life Project Coordinator. 

The training team travelled to Washington, D.C. for the Train the Trainer event in spring 2014 and included representatives from SAO, JSO, ElderSource and Hubbard House, the area’s certified domestic violence shelter.

“The Abuse in Later Life project funding has provided time and monies for strategic planning and direct service. Development of Coordinated Community Response to Elder Abuse has contributed  to uncovering some policy and protocol issues which in turn, have led our project partners to adjust their procedures to better capture elder abuse cases and promote successful prosecution. All of the 4th Judicial SAO Advocates have received the training which has improved our service delivery to victims,” Regina Vought, Florida State Attorney’s Office Victim Advocate Supervisor, said.

The Women’s Center of Jacksonville was the only grantee in the State of Florida to receive Abuse in Later Life funds in 2013.  Under prior grants, the Women’s Center of Jacksonville developed training and a CD-ROM for criminal justice professionals. Through community collaboration and excellent project partner relationships, elder abuse training, awareness, and outreach have made the community more sensitive to the issue. For more information contact: or


Judges during the "comings and goings" exercise.                               Judge Gary P. Flower


Chief Judge Mark H. Mahon receiving a plaque of thanks from Eileen Rodden,

Abuse in Later Life Project Coordinator, and Ronnie Fussell, Clerk of the Court.