In This Issue

Letter from our Executive Director

Meet Our New Board Chair

Happy Anniversary to the ADA

Harford Center Art show

Ghoul Roast Updates

Agency News

Better Jobs Act

10 Facts

Better Care

Jobs Act

Thank You to

Our Sponsors!

And More!

A Message from our Executive Director

Summer feels like it’s coming to an end; however, it many ways it also feels like it just started. The past 18 months have, for many of us, felt like a blur. I hear all the time from colleagues, friends, family, and staff that they can’t wait for things to go back to “normal.” That makes me reflect on two thoughts. First, what is “normal” and is that really what we are striving for at the Harford Center? Secondly, what will the new “normal” look like? In reflecting on those questions, I think about the evolution of the Harford Center over the past 60 years. The Center started in response to a community need and served adults and children with disabilities. As the need grew and public schools accepted children with disabilities, the Harford Center evolved to provide adult-only services. From that point, the field of disability services grew to understand the importance of providing all people with the opportunity for choice and dignity in their lives. Services to adults with disabilities has undergone radical changes since the closing of Rosewood in 2009 and other similar institutions across the nation. The service moved from an institutional philosophy to a community-integration philosophy. I reflect on all of this to suggest that the pandemic might be another turning point in the industry that has showed providers, families, participants, and staff that there may be other ways to provide supports to people. Over the past year, we have been able to provide virtual support, in-home support, community, and center-based support. As the Coronavirus’ numbers have increased and decreased, we have had to adjust our service provision while keeping the needs of our participants at the forefront of our decision-making. We have provided community-based vaccine clinics to participants and their families. We have done virtual fundraising events. We have reduced group sizes and have continued to provide the highest quality of care despite great odds. As you know, the Nation is experiencing a staffing shortage, and we are no different. We are committed to hiring a talented and caring workforce, but we recognize that it takes time to do this. During this period of great change, I ask you all to be patient with us as we plan for the future. We want to continue to be able to provide flexible services that meet the needs of all participants. Our priorities remain the same: dignity, safety, stability, choice, and community integration for all our participants. Additionally, we are striving to grow our employment services, reduce our group sizes, and hire the best staff. We welcome your feedback and look forward to whatever the new “normal” looks like.

Safety Is Our Number 1 Priority!

Meet Our New Board Chair!

We are pleased to announce that Anne Cerruto is our new Board Chair! Anne has been advocating for those with ID/DD in both a personal and professional capacity for 23 years, since the birth of her son, Luke, who currently receives services from the Harford Center. In addition, Anne has served on varied committees throughout the years, including the Chesapeake Down Syndrome Parent Group, Special Education Advisory Committee for Harford County, Local Health Improvement Coalition for Harford County, and now the Board of Directors for the Harford Center.

Anne is a graduate of University of Delaware with a BS in Human Services and a graduate of the Harford County Grant Academy. Currently, Anne works as a Client Advocacy Services Specialist for the Harford County Office on Aging. However, the biggest accomplishment for Anne is being a wife, daughter, friend, and a mom to Luke and his sister, Justine, along with Luke's brother-in-law, Chris.

Board Openings

The Harford Center's Board of Directors is accepting applications for board member openings. Please consider joining this prestigious group which includes members from the County Council, Harford County Government, the Board of Education, and other well-respected members of the Harford County Community. For more information or to apply, please click here.

Please Join Us for The Harford Center Art Show!

Paintings - Jewelry - Embroidery - Handmade Shirts

October 1, 2021 11AM-1PM at The Harford Center Pavilion

4 N. Earlton Rd. Havre de Grace, MD 21078

The Harford Center is Hiring Direct Support Professionals!

October is Coming Soon!

Don't forget to get your

Ghoul Roast tickets!

Click here!

If You Have Goods or Services You Would Like to Donate for our Ghoul Roast Raffles, please contact Dinah! Thank you so much!

Thank You to our Generous

Early Bird Sponsors!

Happy Anniversary to the ADA

Last month we celebrated the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, and mandates reasonable accommodations in the workplace and for public services. It also prohibits retaliation against people exercising their rights under the law. The ADA was groundbreaking when it was introduced in 1990, and it improved accessibility and quality of life for Americans with disabilities. Happy anniversary, ADA!

Better Care Jobs Act

What to Know:

  • 3.5 million older Americans and Americans with disabilities currently receive Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) through Medicaid.
  • All states offer some HCBS, but there is no consistency as to who qualifies and for how much. Some states cap the number of people who can receive these services.
  • There are currently 820,000 Americans on the waiting list for HCBS.
  • Many older adults and people with disabilities have had serious gaps in their care since the COVID pandemic began.
  • Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) earn an average of $12/hour nationally. This has led to an estimated 40-60% turnover in the field, leading in turn to a reduction in the quality of care given to some of our most vulnerable citizens. Staff shortages are extremely common in the field while the most dedicated professionals cannot earn enough to support themselves.
  • The Better Care Jobs Act aims to make HCBS more equitable, make DSP jobs good jobs, and support dignity by allowing people to avoid nursing homes and remain in their homes and jobs to the fullest extent possible.
  • While this is an expensive bill, state run nursing homes are almost always more expensive and less humane. Additionally, HCBS provides more opportunities for older people and people with disabilities to work, adding to tax revenue. Furthermore, with DSP wages what they are (over 18% of all DSP salaries place workers below the federal income standard for poverty), everyday Americans are currently subsidizing those wages through subsidized housing programs, food stamps, and health care.

What To Do:

  • If you support the Better Care Jobs Act, please email your representatives and let them know (find your representative here).
  • Please share information about Home and Community Based Services with the people in your network.

Lead Sponsor Senator Bob Casey:

“We should have the kind of caregiving that is worthy of our values. This is the most powerful country in the world. We should do HCBS for disabilities and older people. If we really care about people with disabilities and essential workers, then we need to make this kind of investment.”