The Baltimore Sun’s “At What Cost” investigative series reporting on the impact of Maryland’s child support system’s policies on the vulnerable families it’s supposed to help is informative (“Child support reform bills gain momentum in Maryland legislature: ‘This is the year for action,'” March 12). At the Community Assistance Network’s homeless shelters, we witness first-hand the barriers to employment and housing that child support judgments create for people who are experiencing homelessness. The negative credit history is problematic but the loss of a driver’s license and/or professional credential are devastating.
At CAN, we work with men who are striving to recover their lives, reconnect with their families and to regain their sense of hope. But many times, the crushing blow to their progress is that their license has been suspended due to delinquent child support payments or unpaid fine or penalty. A suspended license creates barriers that include, but are not limited to the following: Reduces ability to travel to work, limits the kinds of jobs that can be accepted because a driver’s license is a requirement and restricts the job applicant to working in areas and hours that are conducive to public transportation.
CAN supports legislation under consideration in Annapolis that would help. House Bill 280 and Senate Bill 234 would enable men to establish a payment plan that allows them to have their license or registration reinstated. Thus, this legislation promotes personal responsibility and accountability. The creation of a payment plan provides a pathway for our residents to reclaim their license and increase their employment options which, in turn, improves their ability to transition out of the shelter and into permanent housing.
Ultimately, this bill will help to ease the burden of the local government and taxpayers by helping to give people the tools they need to get back to work, rebuild their lives, re-connect with their families and strengthen the neighborhoods we share.
Mitchell Posner, Baltimore
The writer is executive director of the Community Assistance Network, Inc.
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