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Public Policy and Advocacy Work

United Way is committed to pursuing a more just, fair, and equitable society where one’s background does not predict future outcomes. Our public policy team analyzes the effects of legislation and policies on individuals and communities and helps guide policy formation to expand equity, opportunity, and access for all. Supported by a board-level Public Policy Committee, we advocate for needed investments, governmental action, and community empowerment, and help amplify the voices of others to effect positive change for our region.




  • Advocate for application of an updated statewide background check system for childcare facility employees.

  • Advocate for adoption of a gradual step-down program through administrative policy change for SNAP (food stamps) and TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) recipients  


  • Track mental health legislation 

  • Track legislation that may impact United Way’s ability to render services via the 211 Helpline  


  • Engage in efforts supporting eviction prevention assistance and increased access to long-term housing strategies as well as local neighborhood issues driven by community needs 




In 2024, United Way of Central Maryland will focus on childcare as a key issue to help providers and parents—and our economy.


Accessible childcare that families can afford is critical: It helps parents get and keep jobs, achieve financial stability, and further their education. Childcare facilities also benefit local businesses by reducing parent absenteeism and supporting employee recruitment and retention strategies—and fuel our economy by the jobs they provide. 


The Need

There’s a shortage nationally and in Maryland of childcare providers and staff. The number of childcare providers in our state is slated to decrease from 32% from 2022 to 2026. Staffing shortages result in longer waitlists, reduced operating hours and fewer children served. This puts a strain on families and providers as centers reduce their hours or close because they can’t staff to capacity.


The current process for background checks on childcare staff is time-consuming and can take months for approval.Childcare providers can’t work with children until the background check is completed by the OCC (Office of Childcare), leaving providers and parents in a bind. If childcare staff change jobs, even if within a few months, they must complete the background check process all over again.


We are advocating for passage of the bill: Child Care Providers – Criminal Background Checks and Abuse and Neglect Clearances.


This bill seeks:

  • A required line of communication between MSDE (Maryland State Department of Education) to notify applicants within (10) days on the status of their background check and their eligibility to work in specified programs

  • A designated unit for background checks be implemented within MSDE to provide comprehensive background checks to applicants within 30 days of receipt


These changes will help ensure that childcare facilities can hire staff quickly, that more working moms and dads in Maryland can find care for their children, and that our economy can be bolstered by daycare centers and their staff.


You can help us support this bill! Learn more at Voter Voice, where you can quickly and easily send a pre-written to your legislator asking them to support this critical bill! 

United Way supports equity, access, and opportunity in childcare through our three Family Centers (Baltimore and Columbia) that offer free or reduced-cost care, and our United for Childcare initiative to address the childcare crisis in our region. 




A “benefits cliff” is a term used to describe the potential loss of public benefits to working people resulting from small increases in earned income—sometimes as little as $100 a year—whether or not they’re financially stable enough to absorb the loss of those benefits.


This critical aid that is lost when a household’s financial situation improves even marginally is not sustainable. It prevents people from seeking new and better jobs for fear of losing healthcare, childcare, food, or housing. And it creates uncertainty and instability in some of our most vulnerable populations, disincentivizing people to enter training programs, buy vehicles and houses, and start savings accounts.


We are working closely with Department of Human Services to help drive the adoption move ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households away from the benefits cliff and promote self-sufficiency.


Priority: Adopt legislation like that in Massachusetts to address benefit cliffs in Maryland 

  • Mitigate the impact of discontinued benefits (e.g., Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), childcare scholarships, medical assistance) when current maximum allowable income levels are reached. 

  • Even $1 over income limits can result in benefit loss, and many recipients will forego income increases or promotions to avoid these benefit cliffs. 




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