Vulnerable Adult Protection Act of 2011 (Doris Act)


On Jan. 24, 2011, the Navajo Nation Council passed into law the Navajo Vulnerable Adult Protection Act, the first Navajo law to protect vulnerable adults between the ages of 18 and 54 against discrimination, abuse, retaliation, exploitation, and neglect. Before passage of this Act, Navajo law protected only children and the elderly from abuse and neglect.

The Doris Act is a Navajo Nation legislation that extends the protections in the Elder Protection Act to vulnerable adults – a person 18 years or older who can’t make responsible decisions for him- or herself, and is vulnerable to abuse, neglect, abandonment and exploitation. Persons who receive services from a caregiver are also considered vulnerable adults.

The Doris Act requires that any person who knows or has reason to know about abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult report the abuse and/or neglect to the police or the Navajo Nation Department of Social Services.

The Navajo Nation Department of Social Services is responsible for providing the services a vulnerable adult needs using the least restrictive alternatives.

Additionally, the Navajo Nation or any other person may assist a vulnerable adult in filing for an Adult Protection Order. This process takes place in Navajo Court. An Adult Protection Order may include interventions like removing the perpetrator from the home, providing necessary care including appointing a caregiver, require an  accounting of funds, appointing a guardian or court appointed representative for the vulnerable adult, and nalyeeh. Whenever a Court considers an Adult Protection Order, the parties will have the option to transfer the matter to peacemaking with the consent of all parties.

For more information about the Navajo Nation Civil Rights of Individuals with Disabilities Act (Civil Rights Act) please contact Hoskie Benally, Jr. Community/Government Liaison at (505) 566-5880.