Maryland must begin to get serious about children's needs
In response to your article "Baltimore to be part of pilot program to ease social services" (Jan. 29): The social work community and children's advocacy groups were jubilant over the passage last year of the Child Welfare Workforce Initiative. We believed that this law, while not perfect, would resolve the most serious problems affecting the care of our most vulnerable citizens -- abused and neglected children, as well as children in foster care and their families.
Now, we see signs that the system won't be fixed because of an unwillingness to spend what is necessary to implement the law.
The plan to lower caseloads by initiating "pilot" projects (a misnomer -- the projects have been proven effective) in a few jurisdictions and shifting responsibility to some counties is clearly an effort to reduce and delay state spending. The justification is that the state is budgeting $2.5 million to upgrade positions and convert 480 contractual positions, and that to ask for additional funds is unrealistic.
Your article indicated that the bill was in response to last year's highly publicized cases of child abuse and deaths; in fact, child advocacy groups and many legislators, including Del. Maggie McIntosh, have worked tirelessly over the years to undo the damage caused by these budget cutbacks.
Linda Ellard, director of the state's Social Services Administration, is quoted as being unwilling to request an additional $50 million to reduce caseloads, without which social workers will continue to be overwhelmed and children will continue to fall through the cracks. Yet, SSA envisions "a Maryland where people independently support themselves and their families and where individuals are safe from abuse and neglect" and its mission is to "aggressively pursue opportunities to assist people in economic needs, increase prevention efforts and protect vulnerable children and adults."
How can SSA possibly meet these goals without adequate funding? If it is forced to delay implementing the law's mandate to reduce caseloads statewide, then we will have lost an opportunity to finally do it right. If we believe that the welfare of our children comes first, then we must appropriate in our state budget what it will take to implement the law now!
Moya Atkinson, Baltimore
The writer is executive director of the Maryland chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
At last, a plan to reward experienced teachers
Bravo to Dr. Anthony Marchione of the Baltimore County Board of Education for his recommendation to increase the salaries of experienced teachers with at least 15 years in the system. For too long experienced teachers have been ignored.
Helen Zeitzoff, Baltimore
Two readers' views on Scott Shane's commentary
There are times when a reader is moved after reading an article written by a reporter, but those times are few.
Today, I had the extreme pleasure of thoroughly enjoying an article ("The crime of walking while white," Opinion Commentary, Jan. 28) by Scott Shane. His writing style was fluid and conjured up images that played across the emotional spectrum from excitement to deep sadness.
I just wanted to express my delight at Mr. Shane's superb writing ability and wish there were more reporters equipped with his insightful manipulation of the written word.
Laura M. Cline, Pasadena
Scott Shane's commentary is sadly typical of the media's fixation on racial profiling by police.
Even as the writer begrudgingly admitted that the officer was just doing her job and "basically meant well," he could not help feeling resentment toward this "rude police demand."
I wonder why no resentment was reserved for the criminals who so brazenly conduct their criminal activity on our streets. Dangerous criminals roaming the streets and burned out houses are described as merely a fact of life, with no adverse commentary given.
In fact, a criminal is described as a "vigilant scout" while the police are characterized as rude and racist. Unbelievable.
I, for one, commend the officer for her vigilance and dedication to her job. I'll reserve my resentment for the criminals and the media, until they get it right.
Pete Stanford, Crofton
Women's privacy and the right to choose
Where does the Jan. 28 letter writer("Abortion is violent act: clinics should be closed") get the idea that women everywhere are being counseled against their will into getting abortions they do not want?
The anti-choice movement wants to take away what should always be the right of women -- to make life decisions that are best for them and not have anyone else involved, especially the government.
That right to privacy is at the heart of the groundbreaking Roe vs. Wade decision. Privacy, the right to make your own life decisions without someone else making them.
The anti-choice movement, having lost in the court of public opinion, has now resorted to terrorist tactics by murdering innocent men and women who provide these services to women who made their choices.
Chris Krieg, Baltimore
High quality care is state department's priority
The editorial ("An unhealthy lack of concern," Jan. 24) is a gross misrepresentation of our department's attitude toward the recent HealthChoice quality audit. From the outset, Secretary Martin P. Wasserman mandated that assuring quality care for the HealthChoice program would be the highest priority.
The HealthChoice program includes several built-in quality assurance components, including toll-free hot lines for recipients and providers, an ombudsman program, satisfaction surveys and annual audits.
We continue to work with the General Assembly to set high standards for the managed care organizations (MCOs) providing services to Medicaid recipients. To assure these standards are met, the department decided to perform the first quality of care audit only one month after HealthChoice was fully operational. With a new program that rapidly enrolled 300,000 recipients, we knew it would be difficult for the MCOs to document that they had provided care to enough enrollees in this short time frame. What the audit did establish was a baseline which we will use to work with the MCOs to identify problems, implement corrective actions, and assure the safety and well-being of our patients.
For those MCOs that do not meet the established standards, the department will impose appropriate sanctions.
Joseph M. Millstone, Baltimore
The writer is acting deputy secretary for health care policy,finance and regulation, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Cameras don't address the root causes of crime
The news media coverage that Baltimore Police cameras along Charles Street will reduce crime is misleading and deceptive. The cameras actually will only move the crimes to less affluent, politically disenfranchised areas.
Society must deal with the root of crime to truly reduce it. Creating programs to eliminate poverty, improve public education, treat drug addiction and mandate a living wage are the moral responsibility of those with the resource and aptitude.
Police cameras on Charles Street are another feel good, politically motivated, vacuous effort to reduce crime for a small group of businesses.
Charles M. Fitzpatrick, Baltimore
Children deserve same respect we seek
Perhaps our children would show us more respect if we showed them more respect by calling them children instead of kids. I am not kidding when I request that we use more proper English when referring to this country's future.
Joy Shillman, Baltimore
To our readers
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Pub Date: 2/03/99