Welfare Advocates

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Welfare Advocates2020-07-17T17:23:04+00:00

Welfare Advocates

Join us for 40th Annual Welfare Advocates Conference

Date: October 28, 2019
Theme: 40 Years and Forward: A Foundation for the Future of Welfare Advocacy
Location: Doubletree Hotel in Annapolis (210 Holiday Ct)

We are centering the conference on recognizing the work Welfare Advocates has done in the past, what we can do to build a stronger social safety net today, and what the future of our work and advocacy efforts might look like.

We are planning a full schedule of informative workshops, so we hope you can join us!

Register for the conference here!

Erricka Bridgeford trains mediators, teaches conflict resolution skills, co-organizes a movement that rallies Baltimore City to avoid violence during three-day weekends and performs rituals for every person who is murdered in Baltimore. Her life has been impacted by murder since she was 12 years old, and she has been working for over 20 years to ensure that murder does not have the last say. Bridgeford’s ability to influence social injustice is fueled by her commitment to transform her personal pain into “hope in action.”

Bridgeford is the director of training at Community Mediation Maryland, co-founder and co-organizer of Baltimore Ceasefire 365 and an inspirational speaker. Her awards and recognitions include: Outstanding Volunteer Contribution to Victim’s Services by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (2015), Best Baltimorean by City Paper (2017), Peacemaker of the Year by Baltimore Community Mediation Center (2017) and Marylander of the Year by The Baltimore Sun (2017).

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.: Registration and light continental breakfast
9:00 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.: Welcome
9:20a.m. – 10:05 a.m.: Opening Keynote by Erricka Bridgeford
10:05a.m. – 10:15 a.m.: Break
10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.: AM Workshops A
11:15 a.m. – 11:25 a.m.: Break
11:25 a.m. – 12:25 p.m.: AM Workshops B
12:25 p.m. – 1:25 p.m.: Luncheon
1:25 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.: PM Workshops
2:30 p.m. – 2:40 p.m.: Break
2:40 p.m. – 3:40 p.m.: Afternoon Plenary Session
3:40 p.m. – 4 p.m.: Closing and Door Prizes 


(These workshops run twice, so all attendees will get to attend two of the workshop offerings) 

  1. Change: The Continuing Challenge in Immigration Policy

Eric Seymour, Esperanza Center Client Services Manager

This workshop will explore current best practices in working with documented and undocumented immigrants and their families, including updates on current policy changes and challenges. Learn what local resources are available if you are working with immigrants, including working with mixed-status households.

  1. Navigating Our Journey: Helping Youth Experiencing Homelessness Access Resources and Build Stability

Ingrid Lofgren, Homeless Persons Representation Project

This workshop explores different safety-net programs and their various intricacies as they relate to individuals who lack stable housing, particularly youth and minors experiencing homelessness. Presenters will discuss the challenges faced by youth who attempt to navigate various services and requirements, and the presenters will also outline opportunities for advocacy going forward.

  1. Flip the Script: The History and Challenges of Addiction and Policy

Ann Ciekot, Public Policy Partners and LaTavia Little, University of Maryland School of Social Work

This workshop will examine the evolution of attitudes towards – and treatments for – people with substance use disorders. From a criminal justice response in the 1990s to the current public health approach, treatment options and polices have changed, though sigma and discrimination continue. Participants will also be given a look at the policy decisions ahead, especially for people living in poverty who have substance use disorders who interact with public assistance and child welfare programs.

  1. Welfare Myths and Realities

Letitia Passarella, University of Maryland School of Social Work

“Welfare Queen.” We’ve all heard this derogatory language to describe individuals receiving public benefits. This presentation will challenge this stereotype and many others by providing data about families in Maryland who receive Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) benefits.

      5. Past. Present. Future. What’s Next for the Family Investment Administration?

Representatives from the Family Investment Administration, Department of Human Services  

The Family Investment Administration oversees the majority of our state’s public benefit programs, including SNAP, TCA and TDAP. Join the new leaders of the Family Investment Administration as they outline upcoming initiatives, improvements, and plans for the department and the programs it oversees.


A. Evolve. Enrich. Empower. – The Educated Consumer is the Best Served Customer.

Connie Tolbert, Cameron Miles, and Lynn Bowens, Maryland State Department of Human Services – Office of Constituent Services

The DHS Constituent Services Office provides support that encompasses all DHS programs and services. The presenters have the rare perspective of being former consumers of human services programs and outreach experts who aided in designing and implementing many of the current human services policies and programs. This workshop will share how they helped shape and support the way these services are currently provided.

B. Welfare to Work: Opportunity for Many, Struggle for Some – Examining the Benefit Cliff

Angie McAllister and Windy Deese, United Way of Central Maryland

ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) is one who works hard, earns above the Federal Poverty Level, but cannot afford a basic survival budget. A major barrier for ALICE is the benefits cliff – when an income increase puts workers at risk to lose their benefits. The Impact of the Benefits Cliff on Maryland Working Families is a new study that examines the impact of the cliff effect statewide and offers policy solution recommendations.

C. Casting a Wide Net: Consumer Panel

Individuals living in or near poverty share their stories of trying to access public benefit programs.

How can we cast a wider, more inclusive safety net for those struggling in our communities? This panel will highlight the experiences of individuals who have sought assistance through various service agencies, and facilitate a discussion on benefits and barriers consumers encounter when seeking help.


Our Afternoon Plenary will be a panel of experts discussing the intersection of education, poverty, and public benefits, specifically focusing on some of the work of the Kirwan Commission, as well as discussing opportunities for advocacy in the next legislative session.

Founded over 40 years ago, Welfare Advocates is a statewide coalition of community-based organizations, advocacy groups, faith communities, and consumers, whose mission it is to educate ourselves and the wider community and to advocate for an adequate safety-net and public policies that support families moving to self-sufficiency. Welfare Advocates is chaired by Lisa Klingenmaier of Catholic Charities.

Through public education in the form of our annual conference and advocacy by participation in workgroups, hearings and other meetings, we continue to identify needs and recommend solutions for people who are moving from welfare towards self-sufficiency. We meet monthly, produce educational materials (Guide to Welfare in Maryland), initiate surveys regarding public thought on welfare and sponsor numerous forums. We are leaders in the advancement of just public policies.

Membership in Welfare Advocates is open to organizations and individuals committed to ensuring there is an adequate safety-net for all Marylanders. There is no cost to join.

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