Governor must find funding to expand child welfare staff...


February 18, 2000

Governor must find funding to expand child welfare staff

As the number of neglected and abused children in Maryland has dramatically increased in recent years, the caseloads for the state's child welfare workers have also increased.

Two years ago, the Maryland General Assembly called for a study to recommend a maximum number of children or families per worker. The study concluded that a major staff increase would be needed to provide children a minimal level of care.

Last year, the assembly legislated a three-year phase in period for the increased staffing and asked the governor to include funding for the first year's increase (about $16.5 million) in this year's budget.

Sadly, the governor has not included these funds in his budget. Rather, he's proposed a three-year pilot program, which would delay implementation of staff increases for another three years.

The children are the ones who will suffer the most from this omission.

Many will languish in foster care much longer than necessary, because the work needed for their return home or for a well-planned adoption will lag for many months.

Others will be returned to homes where parents have not yet learned to protect them from such maltreatment as sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect.

And the loss of experienced child welfare workers continues, as the stress of the job and the frustration of not being able to protect children increases

But there is a solution to the problem: the governor could add the funds in his supplemental budget to reduce caseloads.

Dana Grubb


The writer chairs the Children, Youth and Families Task Force of the National Association of Social Workers' Maryland Chapter.

Proposed `land swap' would hurt East Baltimore

While The Sun invites Mayor Martin O'Malley's planners to recognize the potential for economic development beyond "old downtown borders," the Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC) seems mired in old-school strategies. ("Abolish old downtown borders," editorial, Feb. 7).

With their proposed "land-swap," HABC and the Johns Hopkins medical institutions are poised to destabilize communities and stifle economic development in East Baltimore.

The plan calls for HABC and Hopkins to trade properties to relocate the Broadway Homes public housing development and consolidate commercial development on the Hopkins campus.

The proposed new location for the Broadway Homes is the site of the recently closed Church Home and Hospital in Washington Hill.

Washington Hill is a community of owner-occupied residences with exceptional potential for further mixed-use development.

The Church Hospital property has always been a community cornerstone, and now provides exceptional commercial and residential development potential for East Baltimore.

The land-swap plan discounts the importance of this parcel. It would play havoc with the area's residents and it's long-range growth potential.

HABC needs to go back to the drawing board, and come back with a plan that fuels the city's economic development.

Michael B. Dunham


Good riddance to bad billboards

I applaud Baltimore City's Planning Commission for its recent vote in favor of a ban on new billboards ("Planning group favors ban on new billboards," Feb. 5).

It is unfortunate that Don Scherer, president of Eller Media Co., the largest of the area's billboard companies, resorted to threats of leaving Baltimore.

I only hope he takes all his billboards with him when he goes.

Jeff Sattler


Governments must support families of fallen officers

I find it appalling that Sgt. Bruce Prothero's family will be financially dependent on donations from caring individuals.

In cases where law enforcement personnel or firefighters are killed in the line of duty, their spouses should be awarded the deceased's full retirement pension. Their children should be guaranteed a college education.

These guarantees should be made by their federal, state or county government employers. It's the least a good employer can do.

A fund should be set aside each year, invested wisely, and used to relieve the extreme pressure on the families of those who sacrificed their lives for us.

John Ballard

Hunt Valley

Distorted salaries reveal our distorted priorities

It's good to know that I'm not the only one who feels that America's priorities are lacking. We pay sports and entertainment figures millions and our public service employees only earn a mere pittance ("Public servants deserve more respect, better pay," letters, Feb. 12).

Our police, paramedics and firemen are worth so much more for risking their lives everyday.

And let us not forget our teachers. They, too, deserve so much more.

As a nation, we need to invest in our future. Our future is our children. We need to protect and educate them.

That should be America's priority -- not dishing out grossly unjust salaries to sports and entertainment personalities.

To support such lunacy is to become a part of it. You won't see me at any games at Oriole Park or Ravens Stadium.

Gina G. Dick

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