Human Services, Office on Aging to Merge in St. Mary's - Southern Maryland Headline News

Human Services, Office on Aging to Merge in St. Mary's




By Guy Leonard, The County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md.—Several years ago the last Board of County Commissioners in St. Mary's voted to corral several county departments and some state-funded non-profit mental health providers into the new Department of Human Services to better serve some of the most vulnerable in the county’s population – the elderly, homeless, at-risk children and families as well as those suffering from alcohol and drug addiction.

But with the economic crunch at the state and federal levels, the grant money that supported the new department was shut off and about half of their work force had either retired or resigned. On Tuesday, August 2, the county commissioners voted to combine it with the Office of Aging in hopes that grant funding could be better shared and used.

“We want to work through this transition and try to minimize administrative funding and maximize service funding,” said County Administrator John Savich during Tuesday’s meeting.

The merger means that the Department of Human Services will be folded into the Office on Aging, with its director, Lori Jennings-Harris, taking the lead on the consolidation of both departments.

Cynthia Brown, who before serving as the acting director of human services was a member of the Community Services Division, will lose her directorship but will remain on as a county employee.

The latest consolidation marks a continuing trend in county government of cost cutting in lean budget times — county leaders recently merged the departments of Public Safety with Information Technology eliminating a department head from the payroll.

Commissioner Todd Morgan said that the most recent consolidation was the right thing to do.

“This combination … in light of all the circumstances was a more efficient and effective way to get things done,” said Morgan (R-Lexington Park).

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