Maryland Regional Direct Services Collaborative Monthly Newsletter
Salvatore J. Albanese is highlighted in this month’s newsletter as the newly elected member of the Collaborative’s Board of Directors. Salvatore (Sam) brings a richness of human resource experience that will enhance the work of the Collaborative. He is currently the Senior Vice President of Human Resources Compliance for Ingleside with life plan communities in D.C., Virginia and Rockville, Maryland. He is known an effective collaborator and builder of high performance leadership teams and strategies. His focus has centered on recruiting, retaining and furthering the richness of the talents that are so critical to the work of an organization. Throughout his career, he has trained hundreds of leaders on how to retain the talent needed in a competitive environment. Sam is the recipient of the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration’s President’s Award for Outstanding Leadership. 
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. It is distributed to members of the Collaborative and the many stakeholder organizations wishing to be kept informed and involved.
Enabling Collaborative Enhancements  
The Collaborative was determined to be a 501 (c) (3) “not for profit” organization by the IRS. This determination made during the last quarter of 2020 has facilitated several important enhancements that further enable the Collaborative’s role to effectively address the needs of the frontline direct services workforce. These changes include the establishment of a new website that will increase the collection and distribution of information regarding the key issues being addressed by its members and stakeholders. Administrative services have been strengthened that now allow an easier flow of information and communication across the region. With the supportive role provided by the Rodham Institute over the past two years the Collaborative is now in a position that allows it to launch this new beginning. 

A separate newsletter will be distributed by the end of February providing a full description of these enhancements.

SB307 – “Direct Care Workforce Innovation Program” Advanced in the Maryland Senate
Senator Guy Guzzone representing District 13 in the Maryland State Senate introduced the Direct Care Workforce Innovation Program shortly after the General Assembly was convened in January. The bill provides grant support at $250,000 each year beginning in FY2022 that would be available to eligible organizations on a matching basis.

The bill received its first reading on January 13 at Finance, Budget and Taxation and then followed with the hearing on January 21. The Committee on Budget and Taxation acted favorably on February 12. The Collaborative continues to monitor the bill’s progress. If the legislation passes both houses and signed into law by the Governor, the program would be administered by the Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning in the Maryland Department of Labor. 

SB384/HB652 Introduced: Guidance and Reporting for Residential Services Agencies
Legislation was introduced this legislative session to address a problem affecting many of Maryland’s 30,000 personal care aides: the misclassification of these workers as independent contractors. As a consequence of this misclassification, workers are cut out of the social safety net. This matter is especially impactful during the pandemic when Maryland faces a critical shortfall in needed workers. 

The legislation has two parts. First it creates a short guidance document explaining how the misclassification applies to personal care aides and requires the distribution of that document to Maryland’s residential service agencies. Secondly, relative to Medicaid-funded work, it establishes a modest expansion of the current reporting system, such that agencies would report to the Department of Health worker’s employment classification and wage rates.

 Maryland’s Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the bill on February 11 and the House Health and Government Operations is set to hold a hearing on February 18. Stakeholders interested in the bill may contact David Rodwin at rodwin@publicjustice.org

Request for Proposals: “Maryland Money Follows the Person Initiative” 
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced the availability of funds to supplement the currently operating “Money Follows the Person” (MFP) demonstration program. This funding is to help the state jump-start efforts to transition individuals with disabilities and older adults from institutions and nursing facilities to Home and Community-Based setting of their choosing. The State of Maryland will receive up to $5 million. Its purpose is to use these funds to plan and build capacity that will accelerate long-term care system transformation design and implementation.  Two of the key areas of particular interest to the Collaborative are to address:

  • Expand provider and direct service worker recruitment, education, training, technical assistance, and quality improvement activities, including training people with disabilities to become direct service workers; and
  • Provide caregiver training and education -

The State has announced that beginning on May 1 and continuing through May 21 it invites written proposals. 

The Collaborative presented the program’s “First Listening Post” earlier this year. It will continue to be in close coordination with the Long Term Care Division of the Maryland Department of Health. Additional information regarding the program is available via Wayne Reed, MFP Project Director at: Wayne.reed@maryland.gov or contact the MFP team at either: mdh.Itcrefrm@maryland.gov or mdh.mfp@maryland.gov

Collaborative Supports the Maryland AARP’s Behavioral Health Resolution  
Recognizing the serious shortfall in the availability of needed services to address the increasing incidence of cognitive, mental or substance abuse disorders in Maryland, the Maryland AARP sent the following resolution to this year’s session of the General Assembly:

           “The General Assembly calls on the Maryland Departments of Health, Aging, and Veterans Affairs as well as the Maryland Behavioral Health Advisory Council, the Maryland Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health, and the Maryland Commission on Aging to jointly develop a data-driven, multi-year plan to meet the cognitive and behavioral health challenges of the elder boom”.

The Collaborative was contacted by Mr. Michael B. Friedman, Chair of “The Brain and Behavioral Health Advocacy Team of AARP Maryland. Upon review, the Board of Directors enthusiastically lent its endorsement of the resolution as well as the several steps the ARRP believes need to be taken. Two of those action steps called for the State to:

“Increase and improve access to home and community based services”
“Increase the size of competence of the behavioral health workforce”. 

Eldercare as Art and Ministry” – Irene V. Jackson-Brown, CSA, CMC, CDP
Irene Jackson-Brown offered shared remarks at its February Board meeting covering her timely and thoughtful book addressing the range of issues confronting the frontline direct services. Her book “Eldercare as Art and Ministry” published in 2020 provides stories, lessons and vignettes that call out to everyone to serve and care for an aging loved one. She underscored the critical importance of designing education and training programs for caregivers that give them the tools to recognize and respond to both micro and macro aggressions without fear of retribution.   

March 25 Webinar: “Direct Services Frontline Workforce Innovations” 
In keeping with the mission of the Collaborative and to emphasize new thinking and innovations in the planning and advancement of the frontline direct services workforce, the Collaborative will convene its first 2021 webinar on March 25. In addition to elevating attention to SB307 - “Direct Care Workforce Innovation Program”, the webinar will showcase examples of community-based initiatives now planned to be implemented this year. It is expected that by elevating attention to the potential opportunities in this way, the webinar will stimulate new thinking on the part of community-based organizations. The underlying themes, accentuated by the impact of the pandemic on workforce availability, will focus on the new ways and means to increase the recruitment, retention and career pathways. 

Blueprint to Guide “School of Aging Services Demonstration”
Following the Collaborative’s presentation at the Maryland Association of Community Colleges meeting with the state’s Community College Presidents, seven community colleges have expressed interest in discussing possible next steps on the proposed “School of Aging Services” initiative. The schools in Maryland include, Anne Arundel, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, CCBC, and Howard. In D.C. In addition, and very importantly, the Community College with UDC will meet with the Collaborative to discuss its interest.

To assure a clearer level of understanding as to how the program may be designed, planned and implemented a “Blueprint” has been developed to serve in guiding the ensuing discussions. A “Five Phase” approach outlines the approach encompassing all critical aspects of the demonstration. Of critical importance is the emphasis placed on building on each school’s current investment in the training and education of the health and human services workforce. In addition, the advice and involvement of knowledgeable stakeholders interested in enhancing the aging services workforce will be called upon.   

Given the area wide interest in the initiative, summary reports covering these meetings will be reported in the Collaborative website.
Area News of Interest

“The Maryland Gerontological Nursing Group” 
The Collaborative was introduced to the Maryland Gerontological Nursing Group this past month. Jane Marks, RN who serves as Chair of the Group will meet with the Collaborative’s Board of Directors at the February meeting. The Board will hear about the formation of the “Maryland Gerontological Nursing Group” and its mission to support excellence in the care of the older adult. 

Employee Owned “Cooperative Home Care Association”
As reported this month in “The Detroit News”, while the pandemic has intensified an already severe workforce crisis in home care, one home care agency in New York City may hold the clue to a national solution. 

The Cooperative Home Care Association offers an unusual amount of career opportunity for its workers. First, it is employee-owned. In addition, its 2,000 workers have the option of buying into the company. Those who buy in receive comprehensive health care insurance and subsidies to pay for college courses and career advancement. The cooperative puts new workers through a four-week training program funded through the combination of state and federal grants and philanthropic grants.

In addition, the agency also guarantees experienced aides at least 30 hours of work at $15.00 an hour, plus benefits including a pension that are worth another $4.00 an hour. The result: A loyal workforce, with an annual attrition rate of about 18% to 24%; far below the industry standard of 82%.
LeadingAge Maryland – “The Art of the Supportive Check-In”
 LeadingAge Maryland has reported that it helped build an important resource for employees. The organization partnered with LeadingAge national and mental health expert Dr. Bill Manbach to create a brief informational video and flier to help managers learn how to check in with employees to help reduce psychological stress. These resources are available as part of LeadingAge’s Pandemic Playbook. Information regarding this Playbook is available through LeadingAge Maryland.
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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