CINA Task Force

Updated chart for special enrollment periods under the ACA

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has published an updated chart on the events that trigger a special enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act. Normally one can only enroll in a health plan through the exchange during a now limited open enrollment period. However certain events can permit one to enroll at any time. The chart sets out information about these "special enrollment periods."

Disabled Foster Children Can Now File for Adult SSI 180 Days Before Foster Care Eligibility Ends

Expanded SSI Application Window for Foster Kids

The transition to adulthood is one of the most important parts of life’s journey. For foster children living with a disability, it can be even more challenging. Social Security is conducting a pilot study that will let these young people apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits sooner.

Since 2010, our policy has been to allow foster children to apply for this program up to 90 days before their foster care eligibility ends. This lessens the risk that these young people will experience a gap in income support while we consider their application. However, in some cases the decision process can last longer than 90 days.

On August 1, 2016, we implemented a year-long pilot study doubling the SSI application window to 180 days before foster care eligibility ends. This pilot will help us assess whether the longer period significantly reduces the number of individuals experiencing gaps in income support. After a year, we will decide whether to make this policy permanent. For more information, you and your clients can visit our spotlight page at

CINA Task Force meeting

Mon, 01/11/2016 - 10:00am - 12:00pm

Meetings will be held at Maryland Legal Aid Offices on the following dates:

Jan. 11 - Baltimore

March 14 - Ann Arundel County office in Annapolis

May 9 - Midwestern MD office in Frederick

July 12 - Southern MD office in Hughesville

Sept. 12 - Montgomery County Office in Rockville

Nov. 14 - Metropolitan MD office in Landover

Find our office addresses at, and click on the office in the menu bar on the right side of the page.

Find the GoToMeeting lInk at If you cannot see this link, you are not a member of the Task Force, contact the moderators to become a member.

Location Name: 
Maryland Legal Aid offices
Rhonda Serrano and Marsha Williams
MD Legal Aid

Caregiver Conference

The Howard County Office on Aging is hosting a conference for people caring for aging loved ones on Saturday, November 14th from 8am-3pm at the North Laurel Community Center in Laurel, MD. Details and registration are here: www.howardcountyaging/org/caregiver and in the attached flier.

4th Annual Caregiver Conference Nov 14 2015.pdf187.6 KB

Survey About Mediation in Circuit Court Non-Family Cases


The Salisbury University Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution is working with the Maryland Judiciary on a survey research project about attorney experience in Circuit Court Mediation Programs for Civil Non-Family Cases. The survey takes on average 7 minutes to complete and any attorney in Maryland that practices in the circuit court is eligible. The purpose is to examine the rate of use and explore issues and concerns that attorneys say enhances or limits the use of mediation.


This survey research is being overseen by the Maryland Judiciary’s Mediation and Conflict Resolution. The results will be disseminated by MACRO at the conclusion of the project and will be used to improve the use of mediation, when appropriate, in civil non-family cases.

Questions regarding the research can be directed to Brian Polkinghorn, Ph.D., Executive Director, Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution at

Family Law Legislative Update 2015 - 02-13

Here's the latest updated list of the status of family law bills pending before the Maryland legislature.

The bill recommended by the Commission on Child Custody Decision Making has made an appearance in both houses.  It is cross-filed as SB 550/HB 1083:  Child Custody - Legal Decision Making and Parenting Time.  It, essentially, codifies all of child custody decision making.  Some of the highlights:

"Legal decision making" means legal custody and "parenting time" means physical or residential custody, visitation, or access. 

There is no presumption of joint legal or joint physical custody.

The new § 9-201, et seq., is "Legal Decision Making and Parental Responsibility -- Judicial Determinations."  It codifies the Sanders and Taylor factors, changing some, deleting some, adding some, and dividing them into what the judge shall consider and what she may consider.

Also in the new § 9-201, et seq., there is a list of factors the court may not consider unless the court finds a risk of harm to the child, including things like a parent's mental or physical disability, relative economic status, race, religion, etc., and extramarital sexual conduct.  Included in that list is a parent's sexual orientation or gender identity.

There are two new categories of third party rights, the rights of "de facto parents" and of people with an "ongoing personal relationship" with the child.  The third party provisions are contained in the new § 9-106.  This section contains a substantial change in Maryland law regarding the rights of third parties - for good or ill, it is a huge change.

Anyone practicing family law should read the bill carefully.  I have attached it.

2015 02-13 FL Legislative Update.docx44.39 KB
Child Custody - Legal Decision Making and Parenting Time - SB 550.pdf146.9 KB

New CSA Decision Re: Guardianship of a Child When Parent is Still Living

In Re Guardianship of Zealand W. and Sophia W.

Number 1280

September Term 2013

Filed October 29, 2014

Pursuant to a divorce in 2005 in South Carolina, Father was granted custody of Sophia and Zealand and Mother was granted supervised visitation. 

Father died in December of 2012.  Father's Cousin filed a petition for guardianship in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County.  The court granted temporary guardianship and entered a number of other orders, one finding Mother in contempt for failing to pay for a court-appopinted psychological evaluation.  Mother filed an interlocutaory appeal of several of the orders.

The Court of Special Appeals found that "the circuit court was not authorized, under section 13-702 of the Estates & Trusts Article to appoint a third party as temporary or permanent guardian of the person of either Zealand or Sophia when (1) the children's mother is alive; (2) mother's parental rights have never been terminated; and (3) no testamentary appointment has been made."

The CSA cited In Re Adoption/Guardianship of Tracey K., 405 Md. 82 (2008), saying that "Section 3-702(a) of the Estates & Trusts Article does not allow a circuit court to appoint a guardianship of the person of a minor child where (1) the mother of the child is still living; (2) the mother's rights have never been terminated in this state pursuant to Title 5 of the Family Law Article; and parental rights have not been terminated by any other court.

In Re Zealand W. and Sophia W..pdf142.08 KB

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New School Immunization Requirements for Maryland Kindergarten and 7th Grade Students

From DHMH:

There are new school immunization requirements for students entering kindergarten and 7th grade this fall.  All kindergartners must have had two chickenpox (varicella) vaccinations.  All 7th graders must receive a pertussis booster (Tdap) and dose of meningitis vaccines.  School officials and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) are urging parents to make sure their child is appropriately immunized against these diseases prior to the start of school.  Children may be excluded from school if they do not have these vaccinations.

 In preparation for the new requirements, local health departments are holding special back-to-school clinics throughout the state. Parents should call their doctor or local health department to learn if their child needs any of the school-required vaccinations and make arrangements to receive the missing vaccines so their child will not be excluded from school.

Click here for more information.

Interpretation of FL § 9-101(b)

I'm sending this both to CINA and to Family Law folks, so sorry if you get it twice.

FL § 9-101(a): "In a custody or visitation proceeding, if the court has reasonable grounds to believe that a child has been abused or neglected ..." A child means ANY child, not necessarily THE child at issue in the case.  The language is pretty clear, as is the case law; there's no controversy that I know of.

My question has to do with the interpetation of § 9-101(b):  "Unless the court specifically finds that there is no likelihood of further child abuse or neglect by a party, the court shall deny custody or visitation to that party, except that the court may approve a supervised visitation arrangenet that assures the safety ... of the child."  The last words - "the child" - clearly refer to the child at issue in the case; that's the only child the judge can "... assure the safety of ...."  It's not A child, but THE child.  But, to what child does the first part of (b) refer?  It says "... no likelihood of further child abuse or neglect ..."  It doesn't use A or ANY or THE.  In some of the cases it would be impossible for the Court to refer to ANY child, or the child who was abused before, because that child is dead (Adoption 12612) or that child is no longer a child aod longer subject to child abuse (Baldwin v. Baynard - the child grew up then had the abuser arrested).

I recently had a contested custody case in which the judge found that under all the Sanders factors and looking at the best interest of the child, Mom should have custody.  He specifically found that the child at issue in the case was and never had been in danger of abuse or neglect by Mom.  He found, though, that Mom had abused an older kid and he couldn't find that Mom had shown the older kid would never be abused again.  It was an extremely odd case.  I read the cases and found myself able to argue it either way.

I know what most of our instincts say - a parent who is an abuser should not have custody of children.  The question is not about our instincts or what we think is good for the child, but about the corect interpretation of § 9-101(b).

The case is over, but I'm curious as to what everyone thinks, and whether the CINA folks and Family Law folks have different perspectives.

DDA Low Intensity Support Services (LISS) Accepting Applications July 1-31, 2014

News from the
Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration

The Developmental Disabilities Administration, part of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, will begin accepting requests for its Low Intensity Support Services (LISS) program beginning July 1. LISS grants assist adults with developmental disabilities and families with a child with developmental disabilities in purchasing services and/or items to address needs.

Applications are being accepted from July 1 through July 31, 2014.

  • Instead of first-come, first-served, a random selection of applicants will be selected after the application period ends July 31.
  • A second round of applications will be solicited beginning January 1 through January 31, 2015.
  • Applications will be accepted in person, by mail or by email for the entire month of July and later during the month of January 2015.
  • Applications will now only be accepted by the provider in your region.
  • The cap was lowered from $3000 to $2000 to reach many more families.

For more information, including the application, information on providers and FAQs, visit DDA's LISS website. If you have any questions about the LISS program, email DDA at or contact one of the LISS providers.

CPS Records/Reports for Custody Cases

Does anyone have any suggestions on obtaining records/reports from Child Protective Services on Custody cases? We have tried calling the CPS worker on several cases, sending over subpeonas, talking with Supervisors, and yet we are still unable to access records or reports (especially for ongoing investigations). Would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.


Gina Polley, Esq

Maryland Legal Aid Bureau - Montgomery County

Enroll in Health Coverage at HealthConnectNow on March 1 at the B'More Healthy Expo

Please pass along this information froim Health Care Access Maryland to clients, friends and family:

Come to the HealthConnectNow! Enrollment Event from 10 am – 5 pm on March 1st at the B’More Healthy Expo at the Baltimore Convention Center. HCAM’s Certified Navigators will be on hand to answer your questions and help you enroll. Visit us on Level 300!

Click here for the event flyer.


HealthConnectNow! Enrollment events will be scheduled across the state throughout March - check out the event list at for more dates and locations. Remember, open enrollment for Maryland Health Connection ends March 31!

(Sorry for the duplicate postings).


See the attached regarding a 2/10 CINA Training. 1.5 credit hours have been approved.
CINATrainingHoursApprovaFeb10trainingl_docx.docx51.28 KB

Extension of interpreters for court-ordered services

The Judiciary recently issued a policy to expand interpretation services to court-ordered services and programs, including:

-- Mediation

-- Court evaluations

-- Court-appointed attorneys

-- Self-Help Centers

and many more.

The attached list is intended to be inclusive. Please contact the Administrative Office of the Courts Program Services Unit at (410) 260-1291 for more information about coverage of particular services.

Feel free to bring to the attention of the Language Access Task Force if you think an interpreter should be appointed for a particular service, but a court refuses to assign one.

MD Judiciary's Language Access Plan

Here is the plan issued by the Maryland Judiciary as to their efforts to maintain and increase accessibility for limited English proficient clients in the courts.

Highlights include:

-- Plans to improve data collection re: LEP participation in the courts

-- Expand interpretation services to court-ordered services and programs

-- Hiring court-employed interpreters in several courts, including AA County, B. County and B. City, Frederick, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's County

-- Improving the numbers of translated forms available on the courts' websites



MD Judiciary's Language Access Plan.pdf1.04 MB

CINA Task Force meeting

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 10:00am - 12:00pm

If you are a member of the Task Force, find the GoToMeeting information at:

Be sure to sign in to see the page.

Location Name: 
MD Legal Aid
500 East Lexington
Rhonda Serrano
MD Legal Aid

CINA Task Force meeting

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 10:00am - 12:00pm

If you are a member of the Task Force, find the GoToMeeting information at:

Be sure to sign in to see the page.

Location Name: 
Metropolitan MD office, MD Legal Aid
Rhonda Serrano
MD Legal Aid
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