APRIL 2021
Maryland Regional Direct Services Collaborative Monthly Newsletter
Nina Roa is highlighted this month for her contributions furthering the work of the Collaborative. She has served as a member of the Collaborative’s Board of Directors since its inception. She holds the position as Director of Finance and Legislation for Career Program – Division of Career and College Readiness – Maryland State Department of Education. In her Director’s role, she manages the Division’s multiple federal and state grant awards totaling over $23 million to support Career and Technical Education in Maryland’s public school systems and community colleges. During her tenure with the MSDE, Ms. Roa has developed and implemented Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program of Study that prepare high school graduates to ender the workforce as Certified Nursing Assistants, Geriatric Nursing Assistants, Certified Medical Assistants and Certified Pharmacy Technicians.
The Collaborative issues its Newsletter each month reporting on the organization’s operations and progress in addressing the core 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 its many stakeholder organizations that have expressed interest in being kept informed and involved.
Collaborative Launches Its 2021 Fundraiser – Donate Now
The Collaborative is reaching out over the coming weeks encouraging its many members and stakeholders to lend their financial support in furthering the Collaborative’s mission. This newsletter reports on a range of important initiatives that have been accomplished, planned or underway; all of which are geared to assuring the availability of the needed frontline workforce throughout the Maryland and D.C. region. This critically important work addresses the issues confronting the workforce that are underscored by the challenges associated with the pandemic. As the work continues, the Collaborative is reliant on receiving help from others. Information as to where and how to contribute is available on the website:  https://marylanddirectservicesdirectservices.org/

New Collaborative Website in Place
The Collaborative is pleased to announce that its new Website is now in place. For the past two years, the Collaborative has relied on the help and support of the Rodham Institute/GW School of for sharing its site with the Collaborative. However, with this change, the Collaborative is now in a stronger position to elevate attention to its work and further the dissemination of frontline direct services workforce information across the region.

March Webinar: “Showcasing New and Innovative Training Initiatives” 
Emerging innovative training was showcased at the Collaborative’s March 25 Webinar. This session’s learning objective focused on new training and education initiatives that brought an exceptional faculty covering the cutting edge work currently underway. Robyn Stone, PhD who holds the position of Senior Vice President for Research at Leading Age and serves as member of the Collaborative’s Board of Director’s presented the keynote address. Dr. Stone identified  work from across the country that invites opportunities in the region. In addition to Jane Marks, Associate Director with the Johns Hopkins Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program, who hosted the session an exceptional panel presented work now underway in their respective organizations. The panel consisted of Kevin Heffner, President of LifeSpanNetwork, Stephanie Shriver with the Lorien Health Services and Charlene Brown, M.D., CEO and Founder of CNA Simulations. Stephen Campbell, researcher with PHI served as the webinar’s moderator.

SB307 – “Direct Care Workforce Innovation Program” – Consideration by the House of Delegates
Following the passage of SB307-Direct Care Workforce Innovation Program by the Maryland Senate, the bill is now under consideration by the Economic Matters Committee in the House of Delegates. The Committee held its hearing on March 23. While the House was unable to act on the bill because of the shortened 2020 General Assembly session, it is clear both Houses will complete their review and adjudication this time around. The bill provides $250,000 in annual grant support to eligible organizations each year beginning in 2022. Should the bill be enacted, it will serve as an important stimulus to community organizations wishing to take on the challenge of improving the training, recruitment and career path development of  frontline direct care workers.  

SB384/HB0652 – Guidance and Reporting for Residential Services Agencies
HB0652 was introduced this legislative session to address the issue affecting many of Maryland’s 30,000 personal care aides; the misclassification of these workers as independent contractors. Because of this misclassification, workers are not adequately protected by the social safety net.  The issue is especially impactful at a time when the pandemic is worsening the shortfall of needed workers.  

The legislation has two parts. First, It creates a short guidance document explaining how misclassification applies to personal care aides and requires that the document be distributed to Maryland residential service agencies. Secondly, it establishes an important but modest expansion of the current reporting system. 

The bill is now under consideration by the Health and Government Operations Committee in the House of Delegates.

Collaborative Elevates Interest in “Money Follows the Person Program
Following the announcement earlier this year by the Maryland Department of Health that supplemental funding is available to support the “Money Follows the Person” program, the Collaborative is considering the development of a proposal to enhance the training and availability of the frontline workforce . This is a unique workforce in that it is one to provide the complex range of services needed for individuals transferred from long term care facilities to home and community care settings. The Collaborative’s approach would address the ways and means for establishing an effective statewide system assure a comprehensive and sustainable level of support.

The Collaborative continues to coordinate its interest in the MFP program with the Long Term Care Division of the Maryland Department of Health. Invited written proposals are called for beginning May 1 through May 21.

Collaborative Invited to Conduct a Montgomery County Home and Community Based Services Roundtable
The Collaborative will participate in the Home and Community Based Age Friendly Workgroup to be convened by the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. Lylie Fisher, with the Health and Human Services established the initiative as a new social services program geared to engaging public-private to assure regional business interests and public health outcomes are prioritized with measurable social impact. 

The Roundtable is to provide a comprehensive view of the frontline workforce; one that focuses on the ways and means to provide the needed services and support to the older adults in Montgomery County. The April framing session scheduled for April 27 will be led by the Collaborative. Invited attendees include key elected representatives from the county and state in addition to representatives from the County’s office of economic development, public school system, Montgomery College and other workforce training organizations.

Partnership Explored with the National Association of Health Care Assistants
As the Collaborative expand its network of stakeholder organizations focused on the frontline direct services workforce, discussions are underway with the National Association of Health Care Assistants (NAHCA) to explore how the two organizations might benefit from a partnership. The Association was founded in 1995 to recognize the position of CNAs as a real and recognized profession. A virtual symposium was held this month addressing the challenges and struggles faced by CNAs and the steps that can be taken to strengthen the workforce.
Area News of Interest

Biden Signs Stimulus Bill Sending Funds to Disability Community 
President Biden signed a massive pandemic relief package sending billions to special education and home-and community-based services. The legislation includes a sizeable amount ($12.67 billion) for Medicaid home and community based services over the next year. States are expected to have significant discretion in how the extra dollars are used. The funds would go toward helping people with disabilities coming off waiting lists of services, increasing pay for direct support professionals or helping programs reopen safely.

Careers in Aging Week
The Erickson School of Aging Studies is partnering with LeadingAge, Argentum, the Gerontological Society of America, National Center for Assisted Living and the American Health Care Association this year to raise awareness of the diverse career paths to provide care and services for the aging population. The Erickson School is invited community partners to discuss about the heroic work underway in the field of aging. 

The “Careers in Aging Week” is set for the week of April 19 with an outstanding faculty that includes Susan Ryan who serves as the Senior Director of “The Green House Project”.

Registration via the Erickson School for the virtual program will soon be available.
2021 Fundraising Drive
To help assure the availability of a well trained direct services workforce throughout the Maryland and D.C. region and to help assure the several program initiatives of the Collaboratives are continued, the Collaborative encourages the support of its many stakeholders.

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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