DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES

FUNCTIONS


[photo, 311 West Saratoga St., Baltimore, Maryland] Created in 1975 as the Department of Human Resources, the Department of Human Services received its present name in July 2017 (Chapter 205, Acts of 2017). The Department serves families and individuals who, due to financial hardship, disability, age, chronic disease, or any other cause, need help in obtaining the basic necessities of shelter and food. Children in particular are the concern of day care, foster care, adoption, and protective services that also extend to vulnerable adults. The Department directs State programs for homeless persons, refugees, migrant workers, victims of crime, and women who are displaced, battered, or assaulted. It also administers federally funded programs, such as Family Investment, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (Food Stamps), and Medical Assistance (Medicaid) (Code Human Services Article, secs. 2-101 through 6-708).

Department of Human Services, 311 West Saratoga St., Baltimore, Maryland, January 2002. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.


OFFICE OF SECRETARY

311 West Saratoga St., Baltimore, MD 21201 - 3521

Appointed by the Governor with Senate advice and consent, the Secretary of Human Services directs the Department (Code Human Services Article, secs. 2-202, 2-203). The Secretary serves on the Governor's Executive Council, the Children's Cabinet, and the Advisory Council to the Children's Cabinet, and chairs the Advisory Council for Alternative Response. The Secretary also serves on the Interagency Committee on Aging Services; the Behavioral Health Advisory Council; the State Child Fatality Review Team; the Task Force to Study Recording Deeds for Victims of Domestic Violence; the Interagency Disabilities Board; the Governor's Family Violence Council; the Interagency Food Desert Advisory Committee; the Health and Human Services Referral Board; the Work Group on Health in All Policies; the Governor's Commission on Hispanic Affairs; the Interagency Council on Homelessness; the State Coordinating Committee for Human Services Transportation; the Council on Open Data; the Council for the Procurement of Health, Educational and Social Services; the Work Group to Study Safe Harbor Policy for Youth Victims of Human Trafficking; the Maryland Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy and Funding Committee; the Interdepartmental Advisory Committee on Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs; the Task Force to Combat Habitual Student Truancy; the Two-Generation Family Economic Security Commission; the Maryland Veterans Trust; the State Board of Victim Services; and the Governor's Workforce Development Board.

Reporting to the Secretary are four offices: Employment and Program Equity; Government Affairs; Inspector General; and Modernization. Also within the Office of Secretary are the Foster Parent Ombudsman and the Foster Care Youth Ombudsman.

Appointed by the Secretary of Human Services with the approval of the Governor, three deputy secretaries oversee: Operations, Programs, and Strategy and Administration (Code Human Services Article, sec. 2-204).

The Department is aided by the State Council on Child Abuse and Neglect; the State Citizens Review Board for Children; the Governor's Commission on Migratory and Seasonal Farm Labor; and the Maryland Commission for Women.

CHIEF OF STAFF

FOSTER PARENT OMBUDSMAN
The position of Foster Parent Ombudsman was created within the Office of Secretary in 2008. From April to December 2015, the Ombudsman reported to the Executive Director of the Social Services Administration. In December 2015, the position was transferred to the Office of Secretary.

The Foster Parent Ombudsman serves as an advocate for foster parents and kinship providers, and may act as an intermediary between them and local departments of social services when issues need to be resolved. Further, the Ombudsman may investigate complaints against foster parents.

OFFICE OF EMPLOYMENT & PROGRAM EQUITY
In 1968, the Office of Employment and Program Equity started as the Office of Equal Opportunity under the Deputy Secretary for Operations. The Office adopted its present name and moved to the Office of the Secretary in January 1999.

The Office works to ensure that Department programs and offices statewide operate in an equitable manner for all Maryland citizens.

Department personnel programs are the responsibility of the Office. Local departments of social services in each county and Baltimore City also are aided by the Office in recruitment, selection, classification, compensation, employer-employee relations, employee benefits, and staff training.

OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL
Audits of local departments of social services, as well as Department programs and activities, are conducted by the Office of Inspector General. The Office also investigates all reports of alleged fraud and abuse, either by a recipient, providor, vendor, or employee.

MARYLAND TOTAL HUMAN SERVICES INFORMATION NETWORK (MD THINK)
The Maryland Total Human Services Information Network (MD THINK) originally organized under the Office of Secretary as the Office of Modernization in July 2015. The Office reformed under its present name in 2017.

MD THINK is a cloud-based data repository that uses a scalable, pay-as-you-go, cloud-based platform. It is designed to break down data barriers between State agencies and provide integrated access to programs administered by the Department of Human Services and several agencies, including the Maryland Department of Health, the Department of Juvenile Services, and the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation.

With federal funding in 2017, Phase one of MD THINK will streamline service delivery for the most vulnerable Marylanders, including children in foster care, disconnected youth, and families in need. For the first time, caseworkers will be provided tablet devices, enabling them to provide services in the field as opposed to having to return to a central location to input data, saving time and resources.


OPERATIONS

The Deputy Secretary for Operations oversees seven offices: Administrative Operations; Budget and Finance; Communications; Legal Services; Licensing and Monitoring; Procurement; and Technology for Human Services.

OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE OPERATIONS

In 1987, the Office of Administrative Operations was established as the Office of Administrative Services. It transferred under the Chief of Staff and assumed its present name in December 2003, and later was placed under Operations.

To provide a safe, efficient, and comfortable work environment for Department employees, the Office oversees facility planning, architectural design, space allocation, lease management, workspace planning and installation, building alteration and renovation, and building operations. The Office also operates a warehouse, supply office, mailroom, and graphics media center. Additional responsibilities include risk management, emergency response, and fleet operations.

The Office oversees units for emergency operations, fleet and facilities management, procurement compliance, risk management, and support operations.

OFFICE OF BUDGET & FINANCE

Organized in 1989, the Office of Budget and Finance manages and controls the fiscal systems of the Department. These systems assure that the Department operates within its budget and meets mandates of federal and State government.

OFFICE OF LEGAL SERVICES

The Office of Legal Services, then known as Judicare, was created in 1971. Formerly under the Community Services Administration, the Office transferred to the Office of Secretary in May 2008. From November 2009 to December 2013, the Office reported to the Deputy Secretary for Operations. From December 2013 to November 2015, the Office reported to the Deputy Secretary for Programs. Since November 2015, the Office again reports to the Deputy Secretary for Operations.

Court-appointed attorneys are paid by the Office of Legal Services to represent indigent adults in Adult Protective Services proceedings, and children in Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) and Termination of Parental Rights cases. To provide these services, the Office contracts with legal firms, monitors attorney performance, and oversees the interaction between client and attorney. The Office also administers the Court-Appointed Attorney Program. The Program compensates attorneys who are appointed under special circumstances to individual cases.

OFFICE OF LICENSING & MONITORING

In January 2006, the Office of Licensing and Monitoring was established under Operations by the Secretary of Human Services. In 2008, the Office transferred to the Office of Secretary, and in July 2015, back to Operations.

Approximately 200 privately-run group homes for troubled youths are licensed and monitored by the Office. Additionally, the Office reviews applications for new group homes and coordinates group home oversight with the Department of Health and the Department of Juvenile Services. Approximately 100 licensed programs for foster care treatment also are overseen by the Office.

OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY FOR HUMAN SERVICES

Formed in 1987 as the Office of Information Management, the Office of Technology for Human Services reorganized under its present name in July 2000.

The Office of Technology for Human Services reviews and approves the Department's technology plans, programs, projects, budgets, staff, and purchasing. It manages and directs the Department's information systems, including computer applications and systems, and computer and communication equipment.

For Department facilities throughout the State, the Office also administers computer applications, systems, and peripheral equipment, as well as computer and communication equipment, telephone systems and equipment, ancillary facility and support equipment, and consumables and supplies. In addition, the Office advises the Secretary of Human Services on information technology issues.

Under the Office of Technology for Human Services are the Electronic Benefits Transfer System, and three main units: Planning and Policy; Systems Development; and Technical Services.

PLANNING & POLICY
Planning and Policy oversees the Enterprise Project Management Office.

SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT
Systems Development is responsible for Department of Human Services Information System (DHSIS); and the Maryland Children's Electronic Social Services Information Exchange (MD Chessie), an automated child welfare information system maintained by the Office of Technology for Human Services.

TECHNICAL SERVICES
Technical Services oversees Security Services.


PROGRAMS

311 West Saratoga St., Baltimore, MD 21201 - 3521

Major programs of the Department of Human Services are administered by Programs. In conjunction with local departments of social services, these programs are overseen by the Deputy Secretary for Programs. Originally, they were carried out by four administrations: Child Care; Community Services; Family Investment; and Social Services. A fifth administration - Child-Support Enforcement - transferred to Programs in 2003. In July 2005, the Child Care Administration was renamed the Office of Child Care and moved to the Division of Early Childhood Development in the State Department of Education (Chapter 585, Acts of 2005).

In April 2008, the Community Services Administration was disbanded and its functions dispersed to other agencies. In June 2008, the Social Services Administration moved directly under the Office of Secretary, and in 2015, was placed under Programs.

Presently, Programs is responsible for three administrations: Child Support, Family Investment, and Social Services. Since March 2007, Programs also has overseen local departments of social services.


CHILD SUPPORT ADMINISTRATION

311 West Saratoga St., Baltimore, MD 21201 - 3521

Enforcement of court-ordered child support formerly was the duty of the Division of Parole and Probation in the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Then, from 1979 to 1984, the Income Maintenance Administration under the Department of Human Resources became the public agency through which support payments were channeled. In 1984, the Child-Support Enforcement Administration formed in the Department of Human Resources to provide child-support services for families (Chapter 296, Acts of 1984; Code Human Services Article, sec. 2-301). Formerly under Operations, the Administration transferred to Programs in 2003. In July 2017, the Administration was renamed the Child Support Administration under the Department of Human Services (Chapter 205, Acts of 2017).

Through local departments of social services, courts, State's Attorneys' offices, and other agencies, the Administration locates absent parents; determines paternity; establishes, reviews, modifies, and enforces child support orders; and collects and distributes support payments (Code Family Law Article, secs. 10-106 through 10-117). Recipients of Non-Public Assistance Medical Assistance receive services at no charge and are required to cooperate with the Administration in order to secure support. Families not receiving medical or cash benefits from the Department pay a $25 fee when they apply for child support services. Collections made on behalf of such families are paid in full to the family.

Oversight of State programs is provided by the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, which maintains the Federal Case Registry, a federal database that consolidates state child support data. The federal Office uses the Registry to help state offices find delinquent parents.

At the State level, the Child Support Enforcement System (CSES) is used to record child support case information, including enforcement efforts; and to account for the collection and subsequent distribution of support payments.

Appointed by the Secretary of Human Services, the Executive Director heads the Administration.

The Administration works through two agencies: Operations; and Programs. In addition, directly under the office of Executive Director, are the child support offices for five local jurisdictions: Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George's counties (Code Family Law Article, secs. 10-102 through 10-119.3).

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY OFFICE OF CHILD SUPPORT
On July 1, 2002, under the Child-Support Enforcement Administration, State government assumed responsibility for the Anne Arundel County Office of Child-Support Enforcement (Code Family Law Article, sec. 10-117). Under the Child Support Administration, the Office was renamed the Anne Arundel County Office of Child Support in July 2017.

BALTIMORE CITY OFFICE OF CHILD SUPPORT
The Baltimore City Office of Child Support was initiated as the Bureau of Support Enforcement under the Baltimore City Department of Social Services. Responsibility for the City Bureau was assumed by State government on October 1, 1990, when the Bureau transferred to the Child-Support Enforcement Administration. The Bureau in 1993 was renamed the Baltimore City Office of Child-Support Enforcement. Under the Child Support Administration, that office was reformed as the Baltimore City Office of Child Support in July 2017.

In 1995, under the Child Support Enforcement Privatization Pilot Program, administration of the Baltimore City Office of Child-Support Enforcement was privatized (Chapter 491, Acts of 1995). Authorization for the Program continued until October 31, 2002 (Code Family Law Article, sec. 10-119.1). Since 2002, under the Child-Support Enforcement Administration, State government resumed administration of the Office (Code Family Law Article, sec. 10-117).

BALTIMORE COUNTY OFFICE OF CHILD SUPPORT
On July 1, 1999, under the Child-Support Enforcement Administration, State government assumed responsibility for the Baltimore County Office of Child-Support Enforcement (Code Family Law Article, sec. 10-117). Under the Child Support Administration, the Office was renamed the Baltimore County Office of Child Support in July 2017.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY OFFICE OF CHILD SUPPORT
The Montgomery County Office of Child Support started as the Family Service Division under the Montgomery County Circuit Court. Later, responsibility for its operation transferred to State Government under the Administrative Office of the Courts. Since October 1996, the Office has been administered by the Child-Support Enforcement Administration (Code Family Law Article, sec. 10-117). Under the Child Support Administration, the Office was renamed the Montgomery County Office of Child Support in July 2017.

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY OFFICE OF CHILD SUPPORT
The Prince George's County Office of Child Support Enforcement has been administered by State Government under the Child-Support Enforcement Administration since July 1, 2002 (Code Family Law Article, sec. 10-117). Under the Child Support Administration, the Office was renamed the Prince George's County Office of Child Support in July 2017.

OPERATIONS

Operations was created within the Child Support Enforcement Administration in 2000. It was renamed Support Services in August 2007, and reverted to its original name in 2012.

Maryland Fatherhood Initiatives. This program helps fathers become involved with raising their children. It works through five programs: Absent Parent; Access and Visitation; Maryland Fatherhood Initiative Grant; Partners for Fragile Families; and Young Father Responsible Fathers.

OFFICE OF SYSTEMS SUPPORT
Local agency compliance with federal and State mandates is monitored by the Office of Systems Support. The office helps local agencies correct problems and implement policies and procedures. It also oversees the Central Registry and the State Parent Locator Service. Cases received from other states are processed by the Office and referred to a local child-support enforcement agency and an intercept program.

Systems Support started as the Field Operations Office in 1981. This office monitored local child-support enforcement agencies. Renamed Office of Program Management, it assumed responsibility for local agency compliance reviews, technical assistance to local agencies, and special projects in 1990. The Office reorganized in 1991 as the Office of Program Development and Management to propose new programs and conduct staff training. Further change in 1992 created the Office of Service Delivery. In 1996, the Office of Service Delivery merged with the Office of Interstate Operations to form the Office of Local Services.

The Office of Interstate Operations began in 1981 as the Office of Central Operations. Reorganized in 1991 as the Office of Policy and Central Operations, in 1993 it became the Office of Interstate Operations. In 1996, it merged with the Office of Service Delivery to form the Office of Local Services which became the Office of Systems Support in 2000.

Under the Office of Systems Support are four units: Computer Information Services, Document Generation, Functional Analysis, and Interstate Services.

PROGRAMS

Within the Child Support Administration, Programs organized in 2000. It is responsible for Customer Service; Intergovernmental Services; Maryland Paternity Acknowledgement Program; Special Projects and Training; and the State Disbursement Unit.


FAMILY INVESTMENT ADMINISTRATION

311 West Saratoga St., Baltimore, MD 21201 - 3521

Functions of the Family Investment Administration began with the Board of State Aid and Charities (Chapter 679, Acts of 1900), which became the State Department of Public Welfare in 1939 (Chapter 99, Acts of 1939). That department reformed as the Department of Social Services in 1968 (Chapter 702, Acts of 1968). Responsibilities for public assistance devolved to the Social Services Administration in 1970. By 1980, those duties were assigned to the Income Maintenance Administration first by Executive Order and then by law (Chapter 26, Acts of 1980). The Administration reformed as the Family Investment Administration in 1996 (Chapter 351, Acts of 1996).

All public assistance programs in the State are coordinated and supervised by the Family Investment Administration (Code Human Services Article, secs. 5-101 through 5-608). These programs include the Energy Assistance Program, the Family Investment Program, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps). The Administration also coordinates programs for public assistance to adults, emergency assistance, and burial assistance.

Family Investment Program. Through the Family Investment Program, eligible families may receive Temporary Cash Assistance or a one-time welfare avoidance grant.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In accord with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Administration directs the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps). Eligible households in this program access their food benefits electronically through a debit card known as an Independence Card. Monthly, their benefit amount is transferred to their card, which is used to purchase food, and plants and seeds for growing food. Nonfood items cannot be purchased with the card.

Under an agreement with the Maryland Department of Health, the Administration also certifies eligible low-income families for Maryland's Children Health Insurance Program, the Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid), and the Maryland Pharmacy Assistance Program.

For local departments of social services, the Family Investment Administration sets policy to be followed in determining eligibility for financial assistance, the Medical Assistance Program (Medicaid), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In Baltimore City and in each county, the local director of social services administers public assistance programs subject to the supervision, direction, and control of the Family Investment Administration.

With the Governor's approval, the Executive Director of Family Investment is appointed by the Secretary of Human Services (Code Human Services Article, sec. 5-203).

Two offices are part of the Administration: Operations, and Programs.

BUREAU OF ADMINISTRATION
For the Family Investment Administration, the Office of Administration oversaw four units: Contracts, Medical Assistance Operations, Office Automation, and Procurement and Budget. It was renamed the Bureau of Administration in 2015.

OFFICE OF OPERATIONS

The Office of Operations started as the Office of Administrative Services. It was renamed the Office of Administratives Services and Quality Control in September 1998, and the Office of Administrative Services and Continuous Improvement in October 1998. In July 2004, it reorganized under its present name.

Under the Office are six bureaus: Disability Services; Information Analysis; Long-Term Care; Program Evaluation; Quality Assurance; and System Development and Management.

BUREAU OF DISABILITY SERVICES
Started in 1987 as Disability Management Operations, this agency later became the Bureau of Medical Assistance Operations. It assumed its present name in November 2009.

The Bureau helps disabled recipients apply for federal Medicaid, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits. Applications are made through the Disability Entitlement Advocacy Program.

Disability Entitlement Advocacy Program. The Program assists with documentation and acts as advocate for persons with disabilities at entitlement and appeal hearings.

BUREAU OF LONG-TERM CARE

BUREAU OF QUALITY CONTROL
Formerly the Bureau of Quality Control, the Bureau was renamed the Bureau of Quality Assurance in June 2011. It assumed its present name later.

Quality assurance reviews are conducted by the Bureau. Mandated by State and federal law, reviewers monitor the Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Medical Assistance Program.

BUREAU OF SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT & MANAGEMENT
Formerly under the Office of Programs, the Bureau of Systems Development and Management transferred to the Office of Operations.

The Bureau designs, tests, implements, maintains, and controls those components of the Client's Automated Resource and Eligibility System (CARES) used by the Family Investment Administration. Systems support is provided by the Bureau to all System users, including local departments of social services.

OFFICE OF PROGRAMS

The Office of Programs formed as the Office of Policy Development in 1992. It became the Office of Policy Administration in 1993 and the Office of Policy, Research, and Systems in 1998. It reorganized under its present name in July 2004.

Under the Office of Programs are the Bureau of Policy, Research, and Training; the Bureau of Workforce Development; the Office of Community Services; and the Maryland Office for Refugees and Asylees.

OFFICE OF COMMUNITY SERVICES
The Office of Community Services began in July 2012 as the Office of Special Projects. Created by the Family Investment Administration to oversee the Bureau of Grants Management and the Bureau of Work Programs, in July 2016, the Office was restructured under its present name as a unit of the Office of Programs.

Beginning in June 2015, the Office of Special Projects had been responsible for the Maryland Office for Refugees and Asylees, and three bureaus: Healthcare Initiatives; Homeless Services; and Special Grants. With its July 2016 restructuring, the Office of Community Services oversaw the Office of Home Energy Programs, and two bureaus: Homeless Services, and Special Grants. In July 2017, the Bureau of Homeless Services transferred to the Department of Housing and Community Development (Chapter 105, Acts of 2017).

MARYLAND OFFICE FOR REFUGEES & ASYLEES
In 1980, the Department established the Maryland Office for New Americans as the Maryland Office of Refugee Affairs. In 1994, the Office reorganized as the Maryland Office for New Americans (Executive Order 01.01.1994.26). In April 2008, the Office transferred from the Community Services Administration to the Family Investment Administration. As the Maryland Office for Refugees and Asylees, the Office was restructured in December 2008 to administer federally-funded refugee programs. Formerly under the Office of Special Projects, it was transferred to the Office of Programs in July 2016.

The Maryland Office for Refugees and Asylees helps refugees residing in Maryland to become economically and socially self-sufficient. It provides employment services, English language and vocational training, cultural orientation, and other services.

Citizenship Promotion Program. The Office also administers the Citizenship Promotion Program formed in 1995 (Chapter 163, Acts of 1995). The Program encourages and assists eligible Maryland residents to become naturalized citizens of the United States and participate in civic life (Code Human Services Article, secs. 6-702 through 6-708).


SOCIAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION

311 West Saratoga St., Baltimore, MD 21201 - 3521

In 1900, the Social Services Administration originated as the Board of State Aid and Charities (Chapter 679, Acts of 1900). In 1939, the Board was replaced by the State Department of Public Welfare (Chapter 99, Acts of 1939). The Department was renamed the State Department of Social Services in 1968 (Chapter 702, Acts of 1968). When the Department of Employment and Social Services organized in 1970, the Social Services Administration was made part of that agency (Chapter 96, Acts of 1970). And, when the Department evolved into the Department of Human Resources in 1975, the Social Services Administration continued as part of the Department (Chapter 382, Acts of 1975). Under the Secretary's direct supervision from June 2008 to 2015, the Social Services Administration moved under the Deputy Secretary for Programs in 2015.

All social services in the State are coordinated and directed by the Social Services Administration (Code Human Services Article, secs. 4-101 through 4-303). These include adoption, foster care, protective services to children and families, and services to families with children. The Administration also determines what factors contribute to social and family problems and recommends policy changes to address those problems. Moreover, the Administration supervises all public and private institutions that have the care, custody, or control of dependent, abandoned or neglected children, except those placed under supervision of another agency. It licenses agencies and institutions having the care and custody of minors. In addition, services to vulnerable adults and individuals with disabilities are the responsibility of the Administration. These services protect vulnerable adults, promote their self-sufficiency and prevent unnecessary institutional care.

Formerly, the Social Services Administration supervised all public assistance programs in Maryland. These responsibilities, however, transferred to the Income Maintenance Administration (now Family Investment Administration) in 1980 (Chapter 26, Acts of 1980).

Started in 2006 and maintained by the Department's Office of Technology for Human Services, the Children's Electronic Social Services Information Exchange (MD CHESSIE) is an automated child welfare information system, which serves as a case management tool statewide for child welfare, foster care, and adoption. The Exchange serves as the Administration's official record of the social services that it administers.

In Baltimore City and each county, the directors of local departments of social services administer programs subject to the supervision, direction, and control of the Social Services Administration.

Each county department of social services has a nine-member board of social services. Board members are appointed to three-year terms by the local governing authority. One member serves ex officio. In Baltimore City, the board is called the social services commission. The Mayor appoints its members to six-year terms, and two members serve ex officio (Code Human Services Article, secs. 3-101 through 3-602).

With the Governor's approval, the Executive Director of the Social Services Administration is appointed by the Secretary of Human Services (Code Human Services Article, sec. 4-203).

The Social Services Administration is organized into two major components: Operations, and Programs and Outcomes Improvement.

OPERATIONS

For the Social Services Administration, Operations oversees Contracts and Monitoring; Data Integrity; Quality Assurance, Research, and Evaluation; and Systems Development.

QUALITY ASSURANCE, RESEARCH, & EVALUATION
Quality Assurance, Research, and Evaluation formed in 1993 as the Special Projects Division. It became the Office of Planning and Special Projects Management in 1994, and the Office of Planning and Projects Management in 1996. Later in 1996, it reorganized as the Office of Research, Special Projects, Planning, and Legislation. At that time, functions of the former Office of Program Review and Monitoring were assigned to it. In August 1997, the Office of Research, Special Projects, Planning, and Legislation was renamed the Office of Special Services. Then, in August 2007, the Office restructured as Research, Evaluation, and System Development, and further reformed as Quality Assurance, Research, and Evaluation in March 2011.

Interagency efforts to plan, fund, and implement new human service projects that address the needs of Department clients are coordinated by this office. Current projects focus on drug addiction; child-abuse treatment and prevention grants; the Family-to-Family Initiative; and Family Support Program grants.

PROGRAMS & OUTCOMES IMPROVEMENT

Programs and Outcomes Improvement originally started as Programs, and adopted its present name in March 2017.

This division is responsible for the Office of Adult Services; the Alternative Response Program; Placement and Permanency; and Systems Improvement.

OFFICE OF ADULT SERVICES
Within the Social Services Administration, the Office of Adult Services began as the Office of Adult and Family Services. In 1987, it was renamed Office of Adult Services. It transferred to the Community Services Administration in 1990, was renamed Office of Adult and Family Services in 1996, and again became Office of Adult Services in January 1999. In April 2008, the Office transferred back to the Social Services Administration.

Vulnerable or elderly citizens are helped by the Office to strengthen family and community ties so that they may live in the community (Code Human Services Article, secs. 6-501 through 6-708).

Community-Based Services. Under the Office of Adult Services are community-based services, including Adult Protective Services; the Adult Public Guardianship Program; the Representative Payee Program; and Social Services to Adults.

Adult Protective Services. This program protects the health, safety, and welfare of endangered, vulnerable adults, aged 18 or over, who lack the physical or mental capacity to provide for their daily needs. The program works to prevent or remedy neglect, self-neglect, abuse, or exploitation of adults unable to protect their own interests or at risk of harming themselves or others.

Adult Public Guardianship Program. Through this program, local departments of social services are the guardians of last resort for vulnerable persons aged 18 to 65. For persons who have been certified medically incompetent, the guardian makes decisions about nonfinancial matters. For vulnerable persons aged 65 or older, the Office on Aging and area aging agencies serve as the guardians of last resort.

Representative Payee Program. This program helps vulnerable low-income individuals manage their monthly Social Security benefit when no family member or friend is available. For the individual, the representative payee ensures that financial obligations are met. By helping vulnerable adults maintain economic self-sufficiency and support, the Program reduces the number of adults placed in institutions, and prevents their financial exploitation.

Social Services to Adults. This is the Department's core program of social work services for adults aged 18 and older. The program helps adults to be self-supporting and self-sufficient and to avoid abuse, neglect, or exploitation. It helps those who need institutional care secure it and protects those who do not from unnecessary institutionalization. These services build, sustain, and augment family and community support.

Home-Based Services. The Office also oversees home-based services, including the Certified Adult Residential Environment Program; In-Home Aide Services; and the Respite Care Program.

Certified Adult Residential Environment Program. Within the Social Services Administration, the Program was established in 1986 (Chapter 626, Acts of 1986). It transferred to the Community Services Administration in 1990.

The Program arranges for private citizens to accept into their homes and care adults with disabilities who otherwise would reside in institutions. The Program develops such housing, licenses care givers, and places clients in homes. Its case managers meet with care providers and clients to monitor these adult foster-care arrangements. The Program serves persons with mental or physical disabilities, including persons with HIV/AIDS.

In-Home Aide Services. This program provides necessary assistance in the home for people whose cases are managed through local departments of social services. Eligibility for this assistance does not depend on income.

Respite Care Program. Started in 1984, the Program provides temporary short-term care for disabled or elderly persons to whom family members normally give care. Services may be scheduled or given as needed. They may be offered in the home or in day-care facilities, nursing-care facilities, the home of a certified caseworker, community-based respite-care homes, or other sites approved or requested by the family. By allowing the family much needed breaks from care giving, the Program reduces the likelihood of institutionalization, neglect, or abuse.

ALTERNATIVE RESPONSE PROGRAM
In July 2012, the Department began developing the Alternative Response Program which, as of July 1, 2013, may be implemented by local departments of social services (Chapter 397, Acts of 2012).

Alternative Response is a component of the Child Protective Services Program that provides for a comprehensive assessment of risk of harm to the child; risk of subsequent abuse or neglect; family strengths and needs; and the provision of or referral for necessary services. An alternative response to a report of suspected abuse or neglect does not trigger an investigation or identification of a perpetrator. In cases where the child is not in immediate danger, an assessment may be made, and the child and family quickly referred to needed supportive services (Code Family Law Article, sec. 5-706).

PLACEMENT & PERMANENCY
Under the Social Services Administration, Placement and Permanency formed as Permanency Services, and adopted its present name in 2016.

SYSTEMS IMPROVEMENT
Systems Improvement began as the Office of Family and Child Development Services in 1980 and reformed as the Office of Children and Family Services in 1991. In August 2007, it reorganized as Child Welfare Practice and Policy. In December 2015, it was renamed Foster Care Policy and Practice, and in March 2017, it became Systems Improvement.

This office sets policy and standards for Child Welfare Organizational Development and Training; In-Home Services; and Permanency Services. Foster Care Policy and Practice also is responsible for the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, and the Mutual-Consent Voluntary Adoption Registry.


STRATEGY & ADMINISTRATION

Headed by a Deputy Secretary, Strategy and Administration was created in January 2016. It supports the Secretary of Human Services in policy matters and in implementing major new initiatives. Further, Strategy and Administration oversees collecting, analyzing, and reporting the Department's performance data. Also, the Office represents the Department in interdepartmental activities.

Strategy and Administration is responsible for three offices: Constituent Services, Human Resource Development and Training, and Strategy and Performance.

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