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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Protecting Vulnerable Kids

    There are so many sad issues that are being played out in the Jerry Sandusky trial going on now in Pennsylvania.  Just as churches that protect their clergy, organizations still seem more interested in protecting their organization than children.

    The point I can't help thinking about in listening to the victims of Sandusky is that they all have talked about how they didn't have someone that gave them attention and showed care for them.  This made them vulnerable for a predator to abuse them.  Predators develop a sixth sense in identifying vulnerable children.  Do we as a community have a responsibility to protect and to care what happens to children beyond our own biological children? If we don't we leave these children vulnerable to predators and gangs.

   We in Howard County take pride in the quality of life that we have here and we truly do have a wonderful range of assets that are the envy of most other communities.  But that shouldn't hide the fact that we have vulnerable children in our community and that we can't be blind to the fact that today we have child predators looking for these children in our community.  I am not trying to use that fact as a scare tactic but just to have everyone spend one moment today thinking about that reality.  We are not immune from the Jerry Sanduskys of the world.

   If you would like to become involved with youth as a mentor we have some opportunities in our community.

A-OK (All Our Kids) is a mentoring program in schools in Howard County. Chaya Kaplan is the contact at 410-730-6030

The local CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is called Voices for Children.  This program matches volunteers with children in the foster care system. Even if you can't be a CASA volunteer you can be a volunteer in their Fostering Futures program that provides items for youth aging out of foster care. Their phone number is  410-740-0933.

St. Johns Baptist Church has a mentoring program that matches men with young male African American youth.  Their phone number is 410-992-6977 ext 1009.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Maryland at 410-243-4000.

I have a follow up to yesterday's post on the Affordable Health Care program.  I talked with a person with the Green Mountain program in Vermont.  They are working to develop an insurance program that provides insurance to any resident of Vermont.  Earlier this year the Governor of Vermont signed legislation to move the state in this direction.  Vermont like everyone else is waiting to learn how the Supreme Court is going to rule on the constitutionality of the law.  What Vermont hopes to be able to do is to ask for waivers from the Federal Government for Medicare and Medicaid programs to be able to put the federal dollars for Vermont residents in those programs into a pool with State dollars to develop a program of universal care for its residents.  If the law is overturned by the Supreme Court they will have to put together a piecemeal universal program that will have Vermont residents in one of three programs---Medicare, Medicaid and the Green Mountain Care program. This will be more complex and costly to administer.  The Governor is up for re-election next year and the feeling is that the program will not move forward unless he is re-elected.

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