Professor Douglas J. Besharov
In Spring 2009, students worked with clients at the Montgomery
County Department of Health and Human Services, the Montgomery
County Council, Montgomery and Fairfax Public Schools and IMPACT
The following are the final projects prepared by the students.
They are listed in order of clients and the names of the authors
have been removed by request.
The course is required for all 48-credit (MPP) Social Policy
students. Work must be completed by graduation.
IMPACT Silver Spring
1. Improving the Sustainability of IMPACT Silver
Spring's Renter Development Program. This paper addresses
the weaknesses of IMPACT Silver Spring's Renter Development
Program, which was implemented to increase the capacity of renters
to participate in decision-making affecting their community. The
author finds that the Program's major weaknesses are its lack of
sustainability and lack of participation by property managers, who
play a key role in community-building. The Program's training
programs are effective, but IMPACT does not follow up with the
participants once they leave the program, minimizing the long-term
effects of the program.
The author recommends that IMPACT Silver Spring expand outreach
to create stronger ties between Program graduates and property
managers and outlines a course of action including an open
luncheon and a one-time training program for property managers.
Montgomery County Council
2. Including Family Day Care Providers in Maryland's
Preschool for All: Options and Recommendations. This paper
analyzes the Montgomery County Council's recommendation to include
family day care providers in the implementation of the State of
Maryland's universal pre-k program, Preschool for All. The author
examines potential models for implementation of such a policy,
including an analysis of school readiness data and strategies to
reach children who do not qualify for pre-k programs.
Upon discovering the majority of Montgomery County children at
this age receive informal care at home, the author recommends and
describes the implementation of a model that would allow the
inclusion of family care providers in the Preschool for All
program, but would also cater to children who do not participate
in licensed family care through a Community Connections model.
Montgomery County Department of
Health and Human Services
3. Analysis and Recommendations for Client Information
Confidentiality Issues Related to Montgomery County Department
of Health and Human Services' Service Integration Initiative.
This paper assesses the Montgomery County Department of Health and
Human Services' (DHHS) new service integration initiative, which
is meant to increase interaction between the DHHS and the
community's most vulnerable populations. The author finds that
service integration has been restricted by federal and state
confidentiality laws and proposes legal options for overcoming the
limitations they place on DHHS employees.
Following an analysis of each option, the author recommends to
the County a combination of these options, including a
reevaluation of state and federal confidentiality law
interpretation and informed consent agreements in DHHS services,
lobbying the State to include confidentiality exceptions and
exploring new technology to protect confidentiality.
4. A Cultural and Linguistic Competency Assessment Tool for
Montgomery County's Health and Human Services Department.
This paper responds to the problem of Montgomery County Health and
Human Services Department delivering disproportional services to
different ethnic and racial groups. The author reviews this
evidence and argues that the Department must develop an assessment
tool which identifies its strengths and weaknesses in delivering
culturally and linguistically competent care.
The author evaluates six existing cultural and linguistic
competency assessment tools and recommends that the strengths from
all six tools be combined into a new model that includes questions
such as the staff's biases and attitudes toward minorities, the
agency's policies toward cultural and linguistic competency, the
data collected by the agency regarding its clients, and the
agency's use of translators.
Montgomery County Public Schools
5. George B. Thomas Academy and Parent Involvement.
This paper presents policy options to the George B. Thomas
Learning Academy (GBTLA) for improving the academic achievement of
its at-risk students. GBTLA is one of many Montgomery County
Public Schools (MCPS) that suffer from a severe achievement gap
between the highest and lowest performing racial and
socio-economic groups. Since increasing parent involvement in
education is a key contribution to improving academic success,
MCPS has implemented initiatives to promote parent interaction in
the learning process. The author evaluates the initiatives and
finds they fail to directly engage parents of at-risk students.
Responding to GBTLA's desire for a policy improving parent
involvement with the express goal of reducing the achievement gap
in student success, the author then evaluates the strengths and
weaknesses of the GBTLA curriculum and administration and
recommends strategies to help meet its goals. Suggested strategies
include staff support, parent workshops, motivational sessions,
and home communications.
6. Universal Breakfast Programs in Montgomery County.
This paper, directed to the Montgomery County Public Schools
(MCPS) Director of Food and Nutrition Services, addresses the
MCPS's options for replacing its Maryland Meals for Achievement
universal breakfast program with a more cost-effective solution.
The author reviews research demonstrating mixed conclusions
concerning the effectiveness of universal breakfast programs, but
finds that nutritionally at-risk students benefit significantly.
The author presents four options, which are evaluated for cost,
implementation challenges, and potential impact on the achievement
gap, and recommends adapting existing programs to overcome
barriers to access and attempting to obtain additional federal
reimbursement by individually reviewing schools to determine if
the number of free and reduced price eligible students triggers
assistance for universal coverage.
Montgomery County Public Schools
and Fairfax County Public Schools
7. The Cost of Excellence. This paper, directed to
Montgomery and Fairfax County Public Schools (MCPS and FCPS),
analyzes data showing that FCPS spends less per pupil than MCPS.
Spending data is used to determine where FCPS saves money compared
to MCPS and whether the savings are significant. District
organization, school characteristics, and district and subgroup
achievement trends are analyzed to determine which district has
had higher overall achievement and which was making bigger gains
in subgroup level achievement. Specific attention is given to
differences in the districts' scale and demographic landscapes
that affect both the cost of providing education as well as
The author finds that spending and achievement in MCPS is not
significantly higher than FCPS' spending once accounting for scale
Back to top