Legislative Committee Is Focus for MASSB During Fall Conference

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1 Legislative Committee Is Focus for MASSB During Fall Conference OCEAN CITY, MD Seeking to play a greater role in the development of public policy, the Maryland Association of Social Services Boards agreed during the annual fall conference to establish a Legislative Committee to influence bills in Annapolis. MASSB Chairman James E. Craigen told the conference that an active Legislative Committee would complement the personal relationships that social services board members have with their delegates and senators. As local boards, you do see your State legislators, and that s a recourse, and an asset, Mr. Craigen said as about 100 MASSB members met at Ocean City s shorefront Grand Hotel on Sept. 29 and 30. But we have not been as effective as we should be. We need to go beyond what we re doing. The first step is to recognize that so that MASSB becomes a vital actor. The chairman s remarks came during the session Updates of Legislative Actions and MASSB s Role. Joining him on the panel were Tammy Bresnahan, Director of Government and Community Relations at the Department of Human Resources; Charlie Cooper, Administrator of the Citizens Review Board for Children; and Carol Sures, of the Anne Arundel County Board of Social Services and a driving force behind the Legislative Committee. MASSB Vice Chairman Mark Poerio moderated the discussion. We realized last year that we were not advocating the way we d like to, Ms. Sures said. We realized the need to have some kind of structure. We want to work with the Department on its bills, and we also want to look at other bills. For guidance on influencing the policy process, the MASSB turned to Ms. Bresnahan and Mr. Cooper, both of whom spend considerable time in Annapolis each year during the legislative session. (1 of 9)3/2/2006 5:39:28 AM

2 Ms. Bresnahan reminded members that each of them potentially has great influence and advised them to solidify their relationships with local legislators. She said building on those We realized last year that we were not advocating the way we d like to, Ms. Sures said. We realized the need to have some kind of structure. We want to work with the Department on its bills, and we also want to look at other bills. For guidance on influencing the policy process, the MASSB turned to Ms. Bresnahan and Mr. Cooper, both of whom spend considerable time in Annapolis each year during the legislative session. Ms. Bresnahan reminded members that each of them potentially has great influence and advised them to solidify their relationships with local legislators. She said building on those relationships is one of the most effective ways to be heard. What works is when you have direct contact with that legislator who represents your community, she said. That legislator will have to look at you in the aisles of the IGA, and they don t want to say I didn t vote for your bill. Then Mr. Cooper provided some historical perspective, saying that the Glendening Administration made a number of cuts in 1996, with those reductions falling disproportionately on child welfare. Baby Boomers: Ready or Not, Here They Come The theme of the MASSB Fall Conference was Baby Boomers: Are We Ready? Dr. Carol Baker, Assistant Secretary of the Maryland Department of Aging, was prepared for the question as she lead one discussion on the topic. (2 of 9)3/2/2006 5:39:28 AM

3 Are we ready for them? she asked. No that s the bad news. The good news is that the Baby Boomers will help us get ready for them. Dr. Baker said that since their beginnings 60 years ago, Boomers have made the world adjust to them. She pointed out that there were not enough pediatricians when the first Boomers came along, but the supply increased to meet their demands. The same was true with schools, as babies inspired a school construction boom. As retirees, she said, Boomers will want choices, and they will demand input to ensure that they design the changes they want. For those Boomers in the audience, Dr. Baker had some advice, including: Don t be afraid of change it s inevitable and can be exciting Seize the moment Remember that Rome wasn t built in a day Lead, follow or get out of the way. "Secretary McCabe Presents His Vision for the Year Ahead As DHR Secretary Christopher J. McCabe prepares for his fourth legislative session as leader of his Department, he gave MASSB members some insight into his goals and requested their help to ensure that initiatives are well funded. I am looking forward to some positive investments in things that we do, Mr. McCabe told Maryland Association of Social Service Board members during the Fall Conference in Ocean City. At the end of last year, we went on an aggressive campaign to bring in child welfare case workers, establish a training academy for caseworkers and salary to over-hire child welfare staff. We also are spending $1 million on aggressive program to recruit foster parents. (3 of 9)3/2/2006 5:39:28 AM

4 Asked what his three biggest priorities were during the upcoming legislative session, the Secretary responded: Budget, budget and budget. We need support for child welfare programs and need your support with the Legislature. While challenges lie ahead, he said, DHR has achieved a number of successes, including in welfare reform. The Temporary Cash Assistance program, continues to make great strides in steering people to work. TANF is arguably the most successful domestic bipartisan achievement in the last 50 years, Secretary McCabe said. We have having great success in Maryland because of the good work of our local departments of social services. When people come to us for help, we provide assistance, and we also engage them, getting people into jobs. MASSB Chairman James Craigen introduces Secretary McCabe and Carol Baker. Our caseload stands at just over 59,000, down from 73,000. The message is that we want to help you in your lives by immediately engaging you. Secretary McCabe said that he is getting ready. In January next year, I will turn 50 no applause necessary. I expect to get an AARP application, he said. He noted that many of the conference speakers referred to ensuring that Baby Boomers are engaged as they retire or prepare for retirement. He noted that members of their local boards of social services already have found a way to engage themselves while serving an important public purpose. Secretary McCabe told the audience that he lost his father and his father-in-law within a month earlier this year, so the issue of aging has registered highly in his thoughts. He encouraged everyone to do what they can. I honor my father and father-in-law by the work that I try to do here, he said. At the Department of Human Resources, we have a vital role to try to assist seniors and try to keep them in the least restrictive environments. Key to Success for Aging -- Keeping Engaged What do Baby Boomers want? Figuring out that generation has never been easy, but Dr. Andrea Taylor, director of the Temple University Center for Intergenerational Studies, answered that question for MASSB members during the Annual Fall Conference in Ocean City. (4 of 9)3/2/2006 5:39:28 AM

5 Boomers want to remain engaged, she said, which is a good thing. All the research out there suggests that productive aging is all about keeping your mind engaged and your body engaged, Dr. Taylor said. The good doctor should know. She runs a program in Philadelphia that works to keep elderly people performing important services. Some older people have worked as respite care providers to physically and emotionally disabled children, giving a break to parents who care for children. In other programs, the younger and older generations work to provide important social services to one another. Sharing of knowledge, skills and abilities have provided enrichment across the ages and continues to give older people a sense of accomplishment and service. This is a generation that wants to do something to improve the quality of life in their communities. Society will have to make the changes to capitalize on the skills of these individuals. Moderator John Kardys, deputy director of DHR s Community Services Administration, welcomes the audience before Andrea Taylor (left) and Sue Ward speak. There is a tendency to think of baby boomers as being self-centered, but you ve also got an element that is interested in giving back to their communities, Dr. Taylor said. She noted that some people become isolated, which is an issue that institutions need to address. Dr. Taylor shared three facts. Half of all Americans aged want to find work that helps others Second careers in retirement years are about people, purpose and community Most think it would be easy finding good work At the same session, Sue Ward, the former Secretary of the Maryland Office on Aging, advocated for Social Security remaining intact. The reason we have a surplus in the Social Security fund is all the Boomers who are working and contributing to the system, Ms. Ward said. It is important for Medicare and Social Security to continue as a universal right. Executive Board Bussiness Meeting Luncheon (5 of 9)3/2/2006 5:39:28 AM

6 WITH DIRECTORS DSS AND ADVISORY BOARD DIRECTORS SEPTEMBER 30, 2005 OCEAN CITY, MD OCEAN CITY MD Chair James Craigen welcomed the group to the conclusion of a very successful MASSB Fall Conference. The brief discussion centered on the agenda items to be taken up in the coming legislative year. After some interchange between Directors DSS and Advisory Board Directors the following three areas were identified as being the top priority for the coming legislative agenda: 1. MASSB will support all attempts to prevent Purchase of Care (POC) from being removed from DHR to the Department of Education. 2. MASSB will support the restoration of staffing levels for adult services. Staffing levels in adult services had been reduced the past several years due to budgetary constraints and the pressing need for positions in other critical areas. With the aging of the Maryland population, it is felt that these positions need to be restored. 3. To support legislation to allow the individual Counties to increase their Advisory Board size to as many as 13 members. It was also decided that future board meetings would take place on the second Tuesday of the month. Time to be determined. The meeting adjourned at 1:10 p.m. Respectfully submitted, Joyce Hunter Woodford Outgoing Secretary Message From The Chairman Dear Colleagues, On September 30,2005, at the MAASB Conference Annual Meeting, your representatives acted on the recommendation of the nominating committee, presented by Carol Sures, to elect new officers for MASSB The officers are: James E. Craigen, Chair ( Baltimore City ), Mark Poerio, Vice Chair ( Anne Arundel County ), Gloria Ducker, Secretary ( Prince Georges County ), Joyce Woodford, Treasurer (Queen Anne's County), We willingly accept the duties and responsibilities of Association leadership. These duties include, but are not limited to: (6 of 9)3/2/2006 5:39:28 AM

7 Working together with local boards, DHR, and other stakeholders, to address the needs of vulnerable customers throughout the state; Advocating for changes and supporting legislation and administrative actions that influence interests of select populations and DHR. Sharing information, networking and communicating about issues relevant to vulnerable populations and boards throughout the state; Establishing regional partnerships, where appropriate, to enhance cooperation in achieving concerns influencing the well being of our customers, local jurisdictions and DHR staffs, and; Recognizing individual board members, boards, staff, partnerships and volunteers for their special contributions that facilitate and support our efforts to meet the needs of our customers. Many thanks to the former executive committee and volunteers, which included Mark Poerio, Vice Chair(Anne Arundel County),Ms. Joyce Woodford, Secretary (Queen Anne's County), and Gloria Ducker Treasurer, (Prince George s County), for their excellent leadership during the past year. They were ably assisted by Mr. David Engle, Director Representative (Washington County) and Mr. Norris West, Public Information Officer, DHR and Liaison to MASSB. MASSB exists by statute to accomplish the following objectives: To serve and advise local, state, and federal elected officials on policies affecting the people served by local Boards of Social Services To further the objectives of MASSB through cooperation with partners, DHR and other stakeholders To act as the focal point for the concerns of local boards of Social Services To evaluate, sponsor, and support legislation, rules and regulations effecting our customers. To promote the general welfare of people served by local departments. MASSB members, we are working to produce an updated copy of the Handbook. It will further enumerate our roles and responsibilities, provide addresses, and other vital information. Newsletters will be provided to update you on developments throughout the year edited by the Executive Committee and Mr. Norris West. You are encouraged to communicate by to your executive committee, (See addresses above). We also created a more robust legislative (7 of 9)3/2/2006 5:39:28 AM

8 structure composed of legislative representatives from each county and Baltimore City. This Legislative Advisory Committee, chaired by the Vice Chair, Mark Poerio, is available to act on MASSB priorities and locally identified issues that will influence and/or impact our objectives and advocate our interests. Further, an active dialogue between local boards and emerging regional councils will help promote our community of interests, assure greater integrity, aid the partnership process and support successful outcomes. Exercise your commitment with conscience and compassion at the local and regional levels with your county, legislative, and executive representatives and share your successes with the membership and MASSB executive committee on the state level. Informed action and advocacy are essential ingredients to strengthening our voices as an Association, and consequently our effectiveness as citizen leaders and volunteers assisting DHR to more effectively address the needs of vulnerable citizens throughout the state. Thank you for this opportunity to serve you and represent our common interests. Sincerely, James E. Craigen Chair, MASSB (8 of 9)3/2/2006 5:39:28 AM

9 ROBERT L. EHRLICH, JR., GOVERNOR MICHAEL S. STEELE, LT. GOVERNOR CHRISTOPHER J. MCCABE, SECRETARY (9 of 9)3/2/2006 5:39:28 AM

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