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Keyword: social services

Support and Relief Programs Available During Shutdown

Baltimore County is home to more than 15,000 federal employees. While the majority of those individuals work at the Social Security Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), where the shutdown has a minimal effect, we know there are County residents who are struggling with a loss of income as a result of the federal shutdown. There are also many contractual workers in the County who are affected.

The following resources may be available to federal workers who have been affected by the ongoing federal government shutdown.

Social Services

Social Services has programs and services designed to help residents in financial need who meet income-eligibility requirements. Apply for benefits at a District Office. Be advised there is required paperwork for application processing.

  • Child Support Program provides help in accessing financial support from a child's parent.
  • Emergency Assistance is available to families with a child who are facing a financial emergency. Examples include eviction and utility turn-off.
  • Food Supplement Program (formerly Food Stamps) provides monthly benefits to families and individuals who need assistance in buying food.
  • Housing Office Assistance helps eligible low-income families and elderly and disabled persons pay their rent.
  • Maryland Energy Assistance Program (Home Energy Programs) provides assistance with home heating bills.
  • Medical Assistance provides medical coverage to eligible individuals and families.
  • Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) provides cash assistance to families with children under 18 years of age when other resources and services do not fully meet the family's needs.
  • Temporary Disability Assistance Program provides temporary cash assistance to disabled adults between the ages of 18 and 64 years who have no children under the age of 18 in the home.

Other resources may be available via the County’s Community Resource Directory or by calling 211.

Water Bills

Waive Late Fees

Baltimore City will waive late fees on water bills for furloughed federal employees and contractors who are customers of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) water system. Eligible County customers should send the following information to customer support:

  • A copy of their work ID or furlough letter
  • Your name, address and account number
  • Indicate if you would like to set up a payment plan as well as a late fee waiver

By Mail

DPW Customer Support and Services Division
200 Holliday Street, First Floor, Room 8
Baltimore, Maryland 21202

By Email

Email DPW.Billing@baltimorecity.gov.

Repayment Plans

Any customer who falls behind in their bills may request a repayment plan to help them become current. Customers with a household income within 175 percent of federal poverty level may qualify for a one-time credit of $236 toward a payment plan. Call 410-396-5398 to discuss your account.

BGE

With many Marylanders impacted by the ongoing federal government shutdown, Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) is taking steps to expand awareness of existing assistance programs to help customers through temporary or extended financial hardships. The following options are available to customers experiencing challenges paying their BGE bill:

  • Payment arrangements and installment plans—BGE will offer multiple flexible payment arrangements to accommodate customers who are currently not receiving pay due to the government shutdown.
  • Due date extensions—Customers who currently have their bills due can have their due dates extended to accommodate their current situation
  • Budget billing—BGE will also work with customers affected by the government shutdown to make their budget billing retroactive considering their current arrangement
  • Deferred service terminations—BGE will work with customers who are in threat of termination with alternative payment solutions

Customers who may be challenged to pay their BGE bill should contact BGE as soon as possible by calling 800-685-0123. Customers can also review the Community Resource Guide, which provides information about various energy assistance programs.

Permit Fees

For the duration of the shutdown, the Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections will defer all fees associated with “personal” permits (electrical, building, plumbing or rental registration) for those affected by the government shutdown. Fees will be due after the government shutdown ends.

Eligible residents who wish to request a deferral should send mail or deliver a copy of their work ID or furlough letter to Julie Sanders.

By Mail or In-Person

Julie Sanders
Permits Approvals and Inspections
County Office Building
111 West Chesapeake Avenue
Towson, Maryland 21204

By Email

Email jsanders@baltimorecountymd.gov.

Education

For students impacted by government furloughs, the Community College of Baltimore County will offer a zero-down, no-interest deferred payment plan to cover tuition and fees for students enrolled or enrolling for Spring 2019 in credit and eligible non-credit workforce training programs. Book fees can also be incorporated into a payment plan.

Older Adults

Information and Referral

Maryland Access Point (MAP) of Baltimore County serves as the entry point for obtaining information, referrals and options counseling for seniors, adults with disabilities, their families, caregivers and professionals. Federal employees who are experiencing difficulties because of the government shutdown may call to find out what services they or their older family member may be eligible for, including emergency assistance. 

Baltimore County MAP
Phone: 410-887-2594
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Nutritious Meals

Baltimore County residents aged 60 and over, and their spouses of any age, are eligible to participate in the Eating Together program at over 35 senior centers, community buildings and senior residences. Participants are asked to make a voluntary, anonymous donation. Younger persons may also participate but are required to pay the full cost of the meal. Reservations are required in advance.

Staying Connected

Federal employees of any age who are looking for a way to fill time during the shutdown and be around others are welcome to stop in and take part in activities at any of the 20 senior centers throughout the County. Senior centers are an active place to stay engaged—opportunities include lifelong learning, arts, recreation, socialization and skill development. Visit the senior center closest to you and start "Living Longer, Living Well!“

Volunteer

Some federal employees who are experiencing the government shutdown may want to spend their time helping others. Make a difference in your community by sharing your time, talents and experience. Explore the range of volunteer opportunities available for all ages throughout the Baltimore community, or search by your skills and interests.

For those who are over the age of 55, we encourage you to get involved with the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), an initiative under the federally-funded Senior Corps program. Through the development of partnerships with nonprofit organizations, public agencies and proprietary health care organizations, RSVP connects senior volunteers with a variety of causes and community needs.

Other Resources


by Sharon Tyler, Program Manager, Baltimore County Department of Corrections

A father, incarcerated in a Maryland jail, was on the phone, reading a book with his son. “They finally have something to talk about together,” said the boy’s mother.

The Turning Pages Family Literacy Program at the Baltimore County Detention Center is reunifying incarcerated parents with their spouses and children. The program offers fathers the opportunity to bond with their children through reading, with the entire family often improving their literacy as they read together.

A team of experienced educators leads father’s workshops and Family Reading Club events. Inmates choose the books they want to read with their children, and receive instruction from volunteers on how to best engage the children. 

Dads and kids gain skills and confidence

The children are excited to visit their dads and spend one-on-one time with them. Children carry the books around, waiting to read to their dads on the phone. Sometimes the dads discuss serious issues with the children, and the books make it easier to talk. 

Over the eight-week program, the fathers cover four genres: stories, story books or classics, nonfiction, and issue-related titles devoted to everything from potty training to behavior. Four family reading events take place in the County Detention Center contact visitation room. Here, fathers read to their children and complete a literacy-related activity. Caregivers also meet to share how they are supporting their children’s literacy development.

Signs of success

Inmates have said they would never have read to their children if not for the Turning Pages program. Others have said they didn’t realize how much fun reading could be, and others report they initially were embarrassed by their own lack of reading skills, but now feel confident reading with their children. 

Months after the program, inmates and their children remain in contact, and literacy skills strengthen, as most parents continue to read aloud to their children and read independently for their own enjoyment.

Flo Kennedy-Stack, a retired Arbutus Middle School teacher who started the Turning Pages program at the Baltimore County corrections facility, sums it up: “Reading is so simple and so loving. The ripples of that simple loving act go out.” 

The Baltimore County Department of Corrections is focused on turning lives around with resources and programs ranging from drug treatment to job training. The department’s Turning Pages Family Reading Club has been recognized as a model program by the National Association of Counties. Visit www.familyreadingclub.com for more information about the program.


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017