Arc had already acted on problems in articleAs president...

SATURDAY MAIL BOX

March 14, 1998

Arc had already acted on problems in article

As president of the board of directors of the Arc of Howard County, I am responding to the March 2 article " 'Caretakers' who prey on the retarded."

As the article indicates, there have been several unfortunate incidents involving theft of consumer funds. In each of the cases reported by The Sun, the Arc of Howard County discovered the crimes and reported them to the appropriate authorities.

These included the Howard County police, the Medicaid fraud division of the state attorney general's office, the Developmental Disabilities Administration and the Licensing and Certification Administration of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The staff and board had addressed the problems identified in The Sun before the article was published. We will continue to review, evaluate and enhance our systems of oversight and management to better safeguard the individuals we serve.

In each case, the victims were reimbursed by the individuals prosecuted, the financial institution involved or the Arc itself.

Our hiring process is very extensive. Each applicant undergoes a minimum of two levels of interviews, drug screening and reference checks.

In 1993, we began using an independent firm to conduct a criminal background check and Motor Vehicle Administration record review on every applicant.

The Arc decided to use an independent firm because it was able to report not only convictions, but all criminal charges and the disposition of each case.

Previously, the criminal background checks were conducted by the Maryland State Police.

Criminal background checks cover only the past seven years from the date of inquiry, in compliance with federal law.

The Arc of Howard County has earned a reputation in the community and across Maryland for providing excellent supports and services to individuals with developmental disabilities. We were one of the first organizations to offer supported employment and supported living services in Maryland. We are also one of the few agencies in the area to provide highly individualized family support services.

I have had the privilege to serve on the board of directors for four years and as president two years. During that time, the board, staff and members have worked hard to ensure that we are providing quality services and supports to children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families.

We have been fortunate to have the support of the community, local government and our members and friends. We have invited and appreciate the input from various individuals and groups as we improve and expand our support systems.

We have not hidden from issues, concerns or different points of view. We believe in all of these instances that a balanced view needs to be presented.

As an organization, we are committed to securing a full life in the community for the people we support. The best protection for anyone we serve is to ensure they are surrounded by loving family members and friends, and are supported by professional and dedicated staff.

Scott Powell

Columbia

Teen drivers deserving of a little credit

Call me immature, but as a 16-year-old driver, I highly disagree with Susan Reimer's March 8 column, "Teens need more time to learn to drive."

Like Matthew, I have tons of good grades, but unlike him, I've never grazed a brick wall with my car. I've never gotten a speeding ticket, either. Not even a parking ticket. I've been driving for six months and four days now, and I resent Reimer's comment, "If Matt couldn't do it, it can't be done."

We've heard the adult side of the issue, so why don't we hear the kids' side?

Reimer tells us that according to surveys, teens are more likely than older drivers to speed, run red lights, make illegal turns and tailgate. I disagree.

You tell us to go the speed limit, so I obey. And when I look in my rear-view mirror, there is a BMW on my tail. And who's in the car? A man old enough to be my grandfather. As I put on my signal and slow to make a right turn, he speeds by me on the left and gives me the finger.

And just two days ago, when I was attempting to turn onto Reisterstown Road and the light turned yellow, the car behind me, which ironically contained two middle-aged women, honked at me, illegally passed me and proceeded to go right through the red light.

Maybe this doesn't prove anything. Maybe you think these are just exceptions, and the majority of adults know how to drive maturely and respectfully. But I'm not convinced. These are things I encounter daily.

Generalizations don't need to be made. Being a teen-ager is hard enough. Now add to that driving, school, drugs, sex, parents you get my point.

Why don't you all give us a break? We need one from time to time.

Stephanie Silver

Owings Mills

As a reformed gay, I oppose school's stance

I am a former homosexual, an educator, director of a ministry to those who wish to leave homosexuality and a new father (my wife and I have a 6-month-old son).

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