September 2021
Maryland Regional Direct Services Collaborative Monthly Newsletter
Gail Kohn joined the Collaborative Board of Directors as a Director in August of this year. Ms. Kohn is the “Age-Friendly D.C. Coordinator” in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. She brings a rich background of experience and knowledge of the older adult population ranging from serving as the Founding Executive Director of Collington, a Continuing Care Retirement Community to leading the Capital Hill Village as Founding Director. As the “Age-Friendly D.C. Coordinator she assesses community/city needs across DC agencies and 129 community organizations including universities. In collaboration with others, she leads the creation of Age Friendly policies, program, practices, and business protocols. 
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.
Support from the Maryland Department of Health – Spending Plan for HCBS

Earlier this month, the Maryland Department of Health was in touch with the Public Justice Center and the Chair of Collaborative’s Vice Chair. The contact was In response to a letter that expressed disappointment with the Department’s “lack of engagement” on the HCBS Spending Plan and the 2021 American Rescue Plan submitted on July 21 to the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. The Department said it will initiate a process that addresses these concerns. A follow-up letter will be sent to the Chair of the Collaborative’s Wages and Benefits Task Force. The letter will clarify how these funds will be used that addresses the filling of slots and reducing the state’s waitlist for HCBS. 

 Legislators Invited to Consider Rate Increase for Direct Service Workers

In advance of the 2022 Maryland General Assembly, the Collaborative has contacted leaders in the House of Delegates and Senate to consider increasing the payments to providers of personal care services. This is a call for a Medicaid rate increase with 80% to 90% of the increase going to direct service workers.  A review of actions being taken or planned by a number of state jurisdictions across the country says the timing and environment is right for Maryland to address this long-standing need to adequately pay for these frontline workers. Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota and others are taking leadership roles that set alternative pathways that can help guide the changes to be made in Maryland. As reported in the Collaborative’s August Newsletter, the Task Force is looking to develop and advance an legislative proposal that could be introduced by sponsors in the 2022 legislative session. 

School of Aging Services – Businesses to Frame the School’s Curricula

The third meeting of the School of Aging Services “Working Group” convened on September 14 to hear from the long term care business community as to what programs should be included in the school’s curriculum. Sam Albanese, Senior VP for Human Resources and Compliance at Ingleside’s corporate office, called for workforce training and education to be approached as “Envisioning a New Paradigm”. He described an illustrative approach that would develop a “Universal Healthcare Provider….CNA” with expanded roles and responsibilities. Students would receive a full time salaries and colleges would receive tuition waivers. The business and education representatives followed up with recommendations encompassing a range of new ideas and those geared to strengthening current programs. Diane Martin, PhD, Director of the Geriatrics and Gerontology Education and Research Program at the University of Maryland/Baltimore outlined the “Age-Friendly Specialist Certificate of Achievement Program” as a program that would enhance skills levels for interacting and working with older adults.    

An Advisory Committee consisting of representative stakeholders from public school systems, consumers, providers, public agencies and business organizations will be established by mid-October. Its role will guide the planning and development of the demonstration.

The recorded session covering the September 14 Working Group Meeting is available on the Collaborative’s website at:

“Strengthening Community Colleges Grants Program” – Funding Prospect

The Collaborative awaits an announcement in October by the US Department of Labor regarding the next iteration of the Strengthening Community College Training Grants program. $40 million was awarded by the USDOL in January of this year to community colleges across the country including an award of $5 million to the Grand Rapids Michigan Community College. Julie Parks, Executive Director of Workforce Training at the school had served as a presenter at the Collaborative’s Area Wide Meeting in 2017. The proposed “School of Aging Services” demonstration sees its program as being in keeping with the grants opportunity calling for .….”capacity building and systems change that address the skill development needs of employers and support workers in gaining skills and transitioning from unemployment to employment.”  

The “School of Aging Services” working group is beginning work on the development of a proposal to be submitted to the USDOL following the program’s announcement in October. 

Invitation to Participate in Policy Development - Grants Innovation Program

As reported in the August Newsletter, the Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning will announce the “Direct Workforce Innovation Grants Program” in early 2022. The Collaborative will conduct an informational webinar at that time coincident with the Division beginning its policy development work.

The Division of Workforce Development is inviting those interested in participating in the program’s policy development to get in touch with Brittney Crisafulli. (A reminder note that a person’s participation in the development of policy removes the organization’s eligibility for possible program grant support.)

Ms. Crisafulli serves as the Division’s EARN Maryland Administrator. She can be reached at:

Articles and News Items of Interest

  • The Age-Friendly Social Innovation Challenge – As a 2021 AARP Community Challenge Grant awardee, the George Washington University (GW) Center for Aging, Health and Humanities will host this event designed to bring a diverse, intergenerational group together to design strategies for building age-friendly infrastructure and to establish an Age-Friendly Regional Network for the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area (DMV). This event is being held in partnership with GW Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, Georgetown University and the 5 Age-Friendly municipalities of Alexandria, Arlington, the District of Columbia, Hyattsville and Montgomery County to generate the “Moon-Shot” ideas need to solve problems the DMV will face over the next 25 years as we all grow older together.

  • Update on Steps to Advance Biden Home-Care Plan – Legislation continues to be considered to expand in-home care for the elderly and disabled while boosting caregiver wages and unionizing opportunities. The bill conditions the funds on a state’s ability to shift people to home-cased care from nursing homes, recruit and train more health care workers and provide pay increases.

  • Maryland Schools Back in Session – Impact on CNA/GNA Training – The Director of Finance and Legislation for Career Programs/Maryland State Department of Education is conducting a survey of high school CAN/GNA programs to determine if there are any barriers to students resuming in-person clinicals. It is felt that some school systems are not allowing students to do these types of activities and that clinical sites are not allowing high school student back as well.

  • MNCHA Annual Meeting - The MNCHA is moving ahead with its “in-person” Annual Meeting on October 21, 2021 to be held at the Turf Valley Conference Center in Ellicott City, Maryland. Information is available on: Meeting
2021 Fundraiser - Donate Now!
The Collaborative needs and invites everyone’s support. The Collaborative is reliant on help from others. Everyone’s support is important if its work to assure the availability of the frontline workforce throughout Maryland and D.C. is to be sustained. 

Information as to where and how to contribute is found on the 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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