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A difficult balancing act [Editorial]

The decision by Family and Children’s Services of Central Maryland to close its Medical Adult Day Care program in Harford County next month is regrettable but was probably inevitable.

The organization says it plans plans to increase substance abuse services in the county with money saved from closing the adult program which has operated for about three decades from Harford Community College.

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“We’re putting our resources into what the community is expressing are its needs,” said F.B. Burden, CEO of the nonprofit, which operates adult care, behavioral health and child advocacy programs throughout the Baltimore region.

The program provides a place for seniors who are too healthy for nursing homes, but nevertheless frail or in need of daily attention. It has seen its attendance decline from a peak of 35-40 to an average of 20, and Burden cited reduced community support as another reason for his organization to move in another direction.

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“With things going on in the county, particularly around chronic substance abuse, opiate abuse issues, we have an opportunity to have more impact in Bel Air and Harford County by putting those resources into the behavioral health and case management services that we do,” Burden told Aegis staff member Erika Butler, saying the decision to close the adult day care program was a “business” one.

While more efforts to help those with substance abuse issues are certainly needed in the throes of Harford County continuing heroin epidemic, where does that leave the 20 or so people who were using the adult day care program and their families that came to depend upon it?

Burden said FCS needed at least $80,000 annually to keep the program going, with no guarantee if could get it from grants or government sport or from community donations.

After learning in October 2016 that the program suffered a reduction in a state grant, the county provided FCS with assistance to help keep the program running this year, according to Cindy Mumby, spokesperson for Harford County government.

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The county provided about $59,000 and undertook several initiatives to help find clients who were privately able to pay to help subsidize the program, she said.

“There was a pathway to viability for the adult medical day care, and we worked extensively to help them get there,” Mumby said. “Adult medical day care did not solicit additional money from the county to prevent this closing.”

Mumby said they county is working to find suitable alternative care programs for the folks who will be losing them. In a county where the population is steadily aging, such programs are still needed.

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