Don't Kill DALPA letter to the editor (July 3) written by...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 17, 1995

Don't Kill DALP

A letter to the editor (July 3) written by Maryland Secretary of Human Resources Alvin C. Collins discussed the Transitional Emergency Medical and Housing Assistance (TEMHA) program, which was created in response to significant constituent pressure after Gov. Parris N. Glendening eliminated the Disability Assistance and Loan Program (DALP).

The letter mentioned that the state departments of human resources, health and housing are working together on TEMHA and working with community agencies to meet the critical needs of individuals with disabilities.

We -- the community agencies -- have long supported an inter-departmental approach to addressing social needs, but we must point out that the non-profit service sector has been addressing the needs of vulnerable people for centuries with varying degrees of support from the public sector.

One of the biggest shortcomings of TEMHA is its complicated and difficult nature that is staff intensive, but not "person-centered."

When the ratio of clients to social service workers is as high as 2,000 to one in some areas, it is not physically possible to give sufficient time to each individual in need. This does not more efficiently target the use of state dollars and staff, as stated by Mr. Collins, but rather cuts off individuals with severe disabilities who are least able to navigate the system.

The notion that this new program -- which is funded at just 32 percent of its level last year and only 25 percent of its level two years ago -- has an unmet need of $1.2 million doesn't compute.

Not even $11.2 million will allow 22,000 persons with disabilities to live a minimally decent life. That equals about $42 a month per person. Can any of us maintain decent housing, health and personal hygiene for that amount?

This program was not designed with the best interest of disabled individuals in mind, nor taxpayers' best interest. It was created on a foundation of myths and generalizations instead of well-researched facts.

Most former DALP participants (81 percent) used their meager $157 a month for rent. Now most will only get a $50 housing voucher.

No program is perfect, DALP included. But if there are problems, fixing them is the solution, not eliminating an entire program and creating in its place a much more bureaucracy-laden one that provides fewer services to fewer people.

Governor Glendening should restore DALP and continue to work with advocates, service providers and individuals with disabilities to fix the broken parts.

Ann T. Ciekot

Baltimore

The writer is acting director of Action for the Homeless, a United Way agency.

Safe Births

Now that our only remaining Baltimore area lay midwife has been convicted and told not to attend any more home births, what are those of us supposed to do who wish to give birth safely at home?

Legally, a "certificate nurse-midwife" or obstetrician could attend home birth, but few (or none) will do so.

I suppose it would be legal for my husband and I to stay home alone and birth a baby unassisted, but it is illegal for a lay midwife with years of experience to attend us. Maryland is one of only seven states considering lay midwifery illegal.

I had my first baby with a midwife in a birthing room, and the hospital stay was a miserable experience. I brought home a staph infection and took weeks to recover.

My second baby was born at home on a snowy December morning. I could smell brownies baking, and we had an intimate gathering of friends and family to celebrate the birth of our youngest son.

Recently I attended my sister's hospital birth and realized anew that hospitals are simply not the optimum setting for "normal" childbirth.

The frantically busy obstetrician had little time for my sister and only stayed for the arrival of the baby.

Within an hour of being born, the baby was spirited away to the nursery and not brought back for a couple of hours.

Hey, try that on the farm with a newborn foal or calf and more often than not the momma rejects her own baby because she doesn't bond with it.

Years of data collected worldwide show clearly and unequivocally that home birth is safer than hospital birth in a majority of cases. The state of Maryland has virtually taken this option away from us.

Susan Streaker

West Friendship

Think Regionally

Donald F. Norris's article on metropolitan or regional government is very interesting because it raised the issue of the regional tax base in the context of regional needs and aspirations (Rejoinder, July 9).

Public opinion, as measured by Mr. Norris, does not appear to be enthusiastic about new forms of doing government business.

We may find some solace in Molly Ivin's observation, made after the 1992 national election, that "the collective judgment of Washington pundits, political insiders, wise men, Capitol cognoscenti, Beltway buffs and other purveyors of inside skinny on where our collective political enterprise stands . . . [has] been wrong -- dead, flat, utterly wrong -- at every turn."

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