Bond Bill Saturday
It’s Saturday, and I’m back in Annapolis for Bond Bill Saturday, with hundreds of others seeking funds for capital projects.
Our bills — SB 805 and HB 1148 — request $250,000 to cover half the cost of renovations to space in Cherry Hill (Baltimore City), for an Early Head Start (EHS) program. The space was a Family Support Center but will need changes in layout, plumbing, and outside access in order to meet city health and safety codes, state child care licensing requirements, and federal Head Start Performance Standards. When completed, the program will be able to support 57 infants, toddlers, and their families at any one time.
Cherry Hill has some of the worst child and family outcomes in the City and in the State. The data — included in our various foundation requests — are sobering. This small, isolated community, has extremely high rates of infant mortality, teen pregnancy, welfare dependency, and high school drop-outs. It has extremely low life expectancy levels and numbers of employed.
With me to testify today are two of the project’s advocates, Cathy McClain, Executive Director of the Cherry Hill Trust, and John McDonald from the Housing Authority of Baltimore City. The three of us are in the sidebar photo taken a little while ago by MFN’s Public Policy Director, Clinton Macsherry. They did a great job testifying in the Senate. Now we’re waiting for the House hearing to begin.
MFN is determined to raise the funds needed to get this project finished so we can begin services again. Right now, all the Cherry Hill EHS families are receiving home-based services, which are necessary but not sufficient to build strong families, ready children, and self-sufficient parents.
Time is of the essence in securing funding for this project. The US Department of Health and Human Services will not reserve operating dollars for this project indefinitely. The initial award was made in June, 2014, effective July 1, 2014, and MFN believes that if it has raised all funds and gets the project started by the end of June, 2015, with children and their families in the completed Center no later than December 31, 2015, we can avoid losing the precious operating funds from HHS.