Feb. 23, 2021 | Annapolis, MD
We had a great Advocacy Day last week! Thank you to everyone who participated. The messages you sent to your legislators matter – and we had a lot of messages sent!
If you did not have a chance to participate or maybe missed one of the alerts, it’s not too late. Use and share the links below with friends, other school parents, or parishioners whom you think would be interested. It is important that the legislators continue to hear from us.
Learn about the issues (includes links for the three action alert)
Send an alert:
- Fund BOOST scholarships for low-income families
- Support making information on hospice care for newborn infants readily available
- Support the Time to Care Act (affordable insurance for paid family leave)
Among the bills the Maryland Catholic Conference is providing testimony on this week:
Public Health - Maryland Prenatal and Infant Care Grant Program Fund
(SB 0777 | HB 1349)
As many as 30% of Maryland women receive inadequate – or no - prenatal care. The implications can be devastating, with higher infant mortality, low birth weight and other serious health concerns that put a baby and mom at risk. Low-income, minority and immigrant mothers and their children are the most affected.
This bill would expand the Maryland Prenatal and Infant Care Grant Program Fund to $1.1 million in 2023, and then by $1 million per year for the following two years. It also would open eligibility for the grants to a wider range of organizations, including Catholic healthcare systems, hospitals and clinics. Currently, only counties may receive the grants.
“Providing grants to qualified prenatal care providers will ensure the health and safety of mothers and babies who are at risk throughout Maryland,” said Molly Sheahan, associate director for respect life advocacy.
Foreclosure Relief Act of 2021 (HB 1009 | SB 0724)
COVID-19 has hit a lot of families hard and, for many, their home is at risk due to financial loss. This legislation would help hold off foreclosure against families in financial straits when there is a “state of emergency and catastrophic health emergency.” Certain conditions would have to be met and a borrower would need to submit a request to the loan servicer to qualify.
“This can really help families who have been financially hit as a result of the pandemic. Maryland needs a fairer eviction process that focuses on stability, instead of housing loss,” said MJ Kraska, associate director for social and economic justice.
Stimulus Payments for Workers with an ITIN (SB 218)
The Maryland Catholic Conference testified in support of Senate Bill 218, which provides a refundable child tax credit for low-income families (federal adjusted gross income under $6,000). That bill is now before the House of Delegates’ Ways and Means Committee, with a Senate amendment that includes tax relief for low-income individuals and families who file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security number. The Conference supports the amendment, which will help immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, who file taxes and have been on the front lines during the pandemic and disproportionately affected.
Testimony on bills is posted after the hearings here.
Families Testify on BOOST
Senators heard about the positive impact of BOOST during a virtual budget hearing on Monday. Alisha Jordan, principal of Mother Mary Lange Catholic School, and several families whose children are benefiting from BOOST testified.
A mom of three students who depend on BOOST scholarships to attend a Catholic school in Maryland told the legislators that her husband had lost his job. The family income dropped so low that they became eligible to apply. She implored them to continue BOOST, which she told them, “has been a blessing for our family.”
The uncle of two BOOST recipients who also attend a Catholic school spoke next. He urged the senators to support these scholarships, which empower low-income families to send their children to Catholic and other non-public schools. His told them that his nephews were born in El Salvador, but were brought to the United States for safety in 2012 after gang members murdered their grandfather. With the help of BOOST scholarships, the family was able to move the boys into Catholic schools. The proud uncle noted that they are thriving, making honor roll and bringing home A’s and B’s.
Garrett O’Day, deputy director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, rounded off the testimony by highlighting the need for expanded BOOST funding statewide. He noted the high demand, with 1,300 eligible families on this year’s waiting list.
If you want to help increase BOOST funding, which benefits families statewide, send your legislators our action alert.
State Expands COVID Vaccine Support
Recognizing that many Marylanders may not have access to or be comfortable using the Internet, the Maryland Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center, providing telephone assistance with finding vaccine providers.
Vaccine-eligible Marylanders can call daily, 7 a.m.-10 p.m., for information on COVID-19 vaccines, help identifying vaccine providers close to their homes, and assistance with scheduling an appointment at the state's mass vaccination sites, such as Six Flags America in Prince George's County and the Baltimore Convention Center. The number is 1-855-MDGOVAX (1-855-634-6829).
On Feb. 22, Maryland's acting health secretary, Dennis Schrader announced that the a statewide portal for Marylanders to pre-register for appointments at the state-run sites will open in March.
Pray for Our Elected Officials
With Mother Mary Lange Catholic School
Principal Alisha Jordan started a new adventure this fall: preparing to open a new, state-of-the-art elementary school. When Mother Mary Lange Catholic School opens in Baltimore’s District 40 next fall, it will be the first new Catholic elementary school built in the city in nearly 60 years. A number of students are expected to benefit from BOOST scholarships.
Join Mrs. Jordan as she leads this week’s session prayer for elected officials by clicking the image above or visiting our prayer page, where you can access all of the video prayers from this session and read or download the prayer (in English and Spanish). The newest prayer video also is posted on Twitter and Facebook (@mdcatholic) every Monday at 10 a.m.
World Down Syndrome Day
March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day, an annual opportunity to raise awareness of the millions of people worldwide born with a third copy of their 21st chromosome. We will have more soon, but wanted you to save the date and give you one idea now on how you can make a difference!
Wear #LotsOfSocks. Colorful, mismatched, stripey, and wild socks are the hallmarks of World Down Syndrome Day. Raise awareness with your school, church, company, and family and send us photos of how you rock your socks! Email them to us in advance at [email protected] and we might just use your photos as we get the word out – or tag us (@mdcatholic) on social media posts on March 21.
Updates from Maryland's (arch)bishops
- Cardinal Gregory talked about racism from a personal perspective and about his journey to Catholicism in an interview with Al Roker that aired on NBC’s Today show last week. Watch here.
- Archbishop Lori has issued an updated pastoral letter on evangelization, “A Light Brightly Visible 2.0” and announced the creation of a new Institute for Evangelization that is focused on parish renewal.
- In Wilmington, Bishop Malooly continues to recover from his bypass surgery in late January. Please keep him in prayer.
Friday fish fries for Lent are on in several parishes, though this year as carryout or drive-through. The Archdiocese of Baltimore has posted a list of parish fish fries here, and The Dialog website notes that St. Francis de Sales in Salisbury, MD, is offering fish fries on three Fridays. Please check in advance that the event is on and note the guidelines.
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