Editor: The Maryland Department of Human Resources totally supports the concept of redirecting funds from foster-care placements to expand services to families that will prevent the need for out-of-home care, ("The Foster Care Solution," May 12).
We are also staunch advocates for the expansion of the Intensive Family Services Program, which we began in 1986 and is now operating in 15 jurisdictions. This is not just a test program. It is a model which has received national recognition, including the American Public Welfare Association's innovative programming award, and has been replicated in a dozen other states.
But perhaps our most significant achievement has been the preservation of 5,600 families from dissolution and dislocation and the diversion of more than 14,550 children from foster care.
It is true that more families could be seen and more placements averted if more staff and funds were available. However, diverting foster-care payments for this purpose still requires that sufficient funds remain in the budget to cover the cost of children already in care. The department does not have a $5 million surplus in the foster-care program.
Due to the manner in which the foster care budget has historically been developed, there is approximately a $5 million deficit in the foster-care administrative budget and a $5 million surplus in the foster-care payments budget. In total, the program is expected to be balanced.
Given the changing state revenue picture and escalating numbers of applicants for Aid to Families with Dependent Children, food stamps and general public assistance, any initiatives that involve a further commitment of state funds and personnel, even with the promise of additional cost-savings down the road, must be approached cautiously.
Carolyn W. Colvin.
The writer is secretary of the Department of Human Resources.
Editor: I think the idea of Germany wanting to establish military bases on U.S. soil is not only great but a cost-effective one.
Defense Secretary Dick Cheney wants to close some U.S. bases to save money. Why not offer some of these bases to the Germans? The Germans could take over the facilities, pay the U.S. rent and provide trickle-down economic effects to the local communities.
From the military side this would be a plus also. American soldiers and airmen could train with the Germans right here in the U.S. This would be very cost-effective for the U.S. military. My own Air National Guard unit could save thousands of dollars in travel expenses, yet still train side by side with our German counterparts.
Finally, our cultures would be enhanced. Americans and Germans would learn a great deal more about each other by working and playing together.
William E. Hensel.
'Bout Time, Doc
Editor: The pundits of the American Medical Association have finally come to the conclusion that health care in the U.S. is sorely lacking; that the U.S. and South Africa are the only two nations in the world without a national health service for all its citizens.
Our present system has been failing for some time, with millions of people without health protection and with outrageous cost inflation. Government officials, concerned with the mired mishmash of present health services, assorted clinics, insurance programs and oodles of paperwork, continue to say they support a comprehensive health plan but don't know how to develop a financing method that would not burden our already tight national budget.
Certainly our government is not stupid enough to let it ride at that. The president, or the Congress, can appoint a committee of knowledgeable people from business, insurance, medicine and laymen to visit and study every nation with a national health system and find how they finance and manage their programs. If they can do it, we can do it, even better.
A First Step
Editor: Regarding your May 4 editorial, "Wrong Roadblock," you made a good point. No one whose movement was blocked by disabled protesters could do anything at the time to change the situation being protested. But you didn't take the point far enough.
The next day, anyone who was stuck, thwarted, immobilized or otherwise caught on a Social Security parking lot might have identified better with the thousands of disabled persons whose lives every day are stuck, thwarted, immobilized or otherwise caught by being forced to live in nursing homes and hospitals. And that identity might have been a first step toward more solidarity between disabled and nondisabled persons, in what has become a very real civil rights movement.
Perhaps many were alienated. Hopefully, some were not. To those who understand the issue of restricted freedom a little better now, welcome to the movement.
Gloria Ray Carpeneto.
The writer is executive director of the Maryland Center for Independent Living.