JULY 2021
Maryland Regional Direct Services Collaborative Monthly Newsletter
Joseph DeMattos, President and CEO of the Health Facilities of Maryland, lives by the motto: “serve and put people first.” His motto, is always and clearly evident to the Collaborative in both  his work and leadership. Joseph DeMattos has headed up the HFAM organization for the past twelve years. As the Collaborative launched its work in 2017 to strengthen its network of partners, he has lent his support. When invited to offer his insights, counsel and participation in Collaborative sponsored events, he enthusiastically joins in. In addition to the roles he’s played in Collaborative sponsored webinars, he has accepted the invitation to serve as a member of the newly formed “School of Aging Services”  Advisory Committee.
The Collaborative issues its Newsletter each month reporting on its progress in addressing the critical development and training issues affecting the frontline direct services workforce throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia. The newsletter is distributed to members of the Collaborative and to the increasing number of stakeholder organizations.
Maryland Enacts SB307 Direct Workforce Innovation Program
While final legislative action was not taken in 2020 on the SB307 “Direct Workforce Innovation Program”, it was enacted at the close of this year’s session of the General Assembly. The bill introduced and sponsored by Senator Guy Guzzone will provide $50,000 in matching grants to community-based organizations. Its purpose is to…. “create and expand on successful recruitment and retention strategies to increase the number of direct services workers”. This year’s budget will include $250,000 when the program is launched later this year. At least this level of support will be included in the Governor’s annual budget in subsequent years. 

The Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning will administer the program. It is expected the DOL will announce its implementation this fall. To help elevate attention to the program, the Collaborative will conduct an informational webinar in coordination with the DOL.

SB384 – Revised Guidance and Reporting for Residential Services Agencies Set In Place
SB384 became law in Maryland at the close of this year’s General Assembly and will take effect July 1. The bill entitled “Residential Services – Guidance and Reporting” addresses a key issue affecting many of Maryland’s 30,000 personal care aides; the misclassification identifying these workers as independent contractors excluded them from receiving social safety net protection. The legislation corrects this misclassification. 

The legislation has two parts. First it calls for the creation of a short guidance document explaining how misclassification applies to personal care aides and requires that the document be distributed to Maryland residential services agencies. The document to be written in consultation with the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland Department of Labor is to be completed by December 30 of this year. In addition, it will expand the current reporting system. The changes will benefit thousands of personal care aides. 

Answering the “Return on Investment” Question for Direct Service Workforce
The Collaborative convened a webinar on June 3 addressing the long-standing question as to whether supporting the direct services workforce yields a “return on investment”. The session put together an expert faculty of representatives from the long-term care business community, researchers and the public sector. They presented arguments for, and answered questions as to the benefits of investing in the frontline workforce. 

Jim Rzepkowski, Assistant Secretary for the Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Workforce and Adult Learning convened the webinar, set the contest for the session and introduced each of four presenters. Robyn Stone, PhD, member of the Collaborative Board and Senior VP for LeadingAge Center for Applied Research presented the rationale as to how investing in the workforce benefits business yields a measurable return to  families and the community. Dr. Memo Diriker, Director of the Business Economic and Community Outreach Network (BEACON) at Salisbury University described the work of his center in evaluating both business and public sector supported projects. Joseph DeMattos, President of the Health Facilities of Maryland, concluded the webinar with an assessment as to the ROI of the frontline workforce to the long-term care business community. 

The recorded webinar covering this well-received and timely session is available on the Collaborative’s website:

School of Aging Services Demonstration Convenes the Community College Working Group
The four community colleges that have expressed strong interest in advancing the “School of Aging Services Demonstration” in Maryland convened their first working group meeting on June 18. The group confirmed the goal to design and implement a Community College School of Aging Services Demonstration, and took its first steps in putting the program plan in place. The working group’s second meeting will engage an Advisory Committee representing the education and business communities across the state. The core group representing the four schools consists of the following members:

  • Carroll Community College (Melody Moore, PhD – Associate VP for Program Development
  • Community College of Baltimore County –
  • Shawn P. McNamara, EdD -Dean – School of Health Professions/Nursing Program Administrator
  • Rudi Horner – Grants Administrator
  • Steven Jurch – Assistant Dean – Health and Business Services
  • Frederick Community College –
  • Brian Stipelman, PhD – Associate VP for Academic Affairs; Dean of Liberal Arts
  • Patricia Meyer – Associate VP – Continuing Education and Workforce Development
  • Sandy McCombe Waller – Assoc VP for Academic Affairs & Dean of Career Programs
  • Howard Community College
  • Kelly McMillan, M.S. – Professor/Health Education & Chair Health Education & and Human Performance Program

The Working Group is guided by the “Demonstration Blueprint – a Planned Approach” is available on the Collaborative’s website.

Partnering with the Montgomery County Age Friendly Workforce Roundtable
The Collaborative continues as a supportive partner to Montgomery County’s initiative to strengthen the direct services workforce.  Together with Barbara Selter, Chair of the Montgomery County’s Commission on Aging, a series of virtual roundtables is planned and underway consisting of panel discussions focused on workforce development. Following the successful session in May, the next event under the leadership of Lylie Fisher -Montgomery County’s Department of Health and Human Services, is set for July 16. 

Camille McKenzie, Director of the County’s Workforce Programs will outline the health career path opportunities for youth and adults. Council member Gabe Albornoz, Montgomery County’s Council Vice President is expected to attend the session.

Mid-Atlantic Business Group on Health Is Introduced to the Collaborative
John Miller, the Executive Director with the Mid-Atlantic Business Group on Health met with the Collaborative Board of Director at its June meeting. One of the Collaborative’s key goals is to further broker and strengthen its relationship with the business and corporate community throughout the region. John Miller has served as Executive Director of the MABGH since 1999. The Group is an association of business health benefits professionals. Its members include Marriott International, Legg Mason, McCormick and Company and twenty more. The organization is the recognized regional group for business collaboration and helps benefits managers for these multinational companies design health benefits that will maximize employee health while controlling cost. As Executive Director, John manages projects and educational sessions including system redesign, disease management, payment reform and consumer engagement.  

Articles and News Items of Interest

US Department of Labor Awarded $40 million In Strengthening Community College Training Grants – Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the award of $40 million via the Strengthening Community College Training Grants program to build the capacity of community colleges to meet labor market demand for a skilled workforce. A second grants opportunity it expected for the Fall of 2021.

Opinion: “My son’s home health workers is the face of infrastructure” – Jeneva Stone, her husband, Roger and their son, Rob are members of “Little Lobbyists”, a nonpartisan group that advocates for children with disabilities and complex medical needs. The article underscores the critical need and role of home care workers. https://www.washingtonpost/opinion/2021/05/04

Steps to Advance Biden Home-Care Plan Via Medicaid Cash – Legislation is moving forward to expand in-home care for the elderly and disabled while boosting caregivers wages and unionizing opportunities. States would implement the program using a major influx of federal funding through Medicaid The bill would condition the funds on a state’s ability to shift people to home-based care from nursing homes, recruit and train more health health workers, provide caregiver pay increases, and establish oversight capacity.

Round One Winners of the Blazing New Trails for Community-Based Direct Support Professionals Challenge – Last fall, the Administration for Community Living launched a prize competition for innovative business models that increase the overall stability of home and community based services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities by strengthening the direct support professionals (DSP) workforce.
2021 Fundraiser - Donate Now!
The Collaborative continues its 2021 fundraiser and urges individual and organization to contribute support. Its success rests on receiving assistance from others. Everyone’s support is critically important to the mission to assure the availability of the frontline direct services workforce throughout the region.

Membership information can be found on the Rodham Institute/Collaborative’s website at:
The Maryland Regional Direct Services Collaborative is a network of organizations and individuals working together to build and sustain a well-trained direct services workforce in the Maryland region. It prioritizes the principles of diversity, advances knowledge that draws upon current and previous training and development initiatives. The Collaborative seeks to pro-actively address the critical issues impeding the availability of the needed support services for older adults and persons with disabilities through policy reform, advocating systems change, and providing leadership in the design and implementation of new program initiatives.
Maryland Regional Direct Services Collaborative
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