June 08, 2008

Arc offers thanks to county legislators

While competitive politics is on everyone's mind, The Arc of Howard County wants to commend each and every one of Howard County's delegation to the Maryland General Assembly for their support of children and adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities and the families who love and care for them.

In particular, we would like to recognize the outstanding efforts of State Senators Edward Kasemeyer (D) of District 12 and Allan Kittleman (R) of District 9 and State Delegate Guy Guzzone (D) of District 13 for their bipartisan, cooperative, proactive advocacy on issues of importance to people with cognitive and developmental disabilities and the agencies that support them.

The two senators worked together during the special session and the regular legislative session to ensure that cost of living adjustments were not cut for the underpaid direct support workers who are the front line in delivery of services to people with cognitive and developmental disabilities. They developed a plan to actually add funding so that agencies delivering these services will be able to more adequately address rising costs of doing business.

In addition, Delegate Guy Guzzone helped win the fight not to cut funding for "transitioning students," that is, for people with disabilities who have left the school system and now require support for the next stage of their lives. This can be an enormous burden for frequently overstressed parents and other caregivers unless the state provides funding for programs and services.

In Maryland, there are 17,000 people with disabilities waiting for funding to relieve the parental burden of round-the-clock care, to support residential and employment opportunities, and to address other needs of people with disabilities and their families.

As we are frequently reminded, Maryland is the wealthiest state in the country, but it is 44th in funding in support of people with developmental disabilities. This needs to change, and the advocacy of Howard County's elected officials gives us hope for the future.

Carol A. Beatty, Executive Director, The Arc of Howard County

Joseph V. Murray, Sr., President, Board of Directors, The Arc of Howard County

The Arc of Howard County Ellicott City

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