Gov. Wes Moore (D) announced Thursday the creation of a new office that he said will take the next step in efforts to combat childhood poverty in the state.
Moore signed two executive orders that cleave the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim’s Services — created in 2020 through an executive order signed by then Gov. Larry Hogan (R) — into two entities. One, the Governor’s Office for Children, will focus on issues of childhood poverty, education, and justice in Maryland.
“Together, we’re going to achieve big things for our children because that’s why the people of this state sent us here,” said Moore. “When our children receive the tools that they need to strengthen their minds and their hearts, they will grow up to lead. They will grow up to compete. They will grow up to build and they will grow up to dream. When our children have pathways to opportunity, they are more likely to contribute to our society.”
The other entity is the Governor’s Office for Crime Prevention and Policy and Dorothy Lennig will continue as its executive director after the division.
Speaking of the separation of the two offices, Moore said “language matters. The names we give speak not just to our work. They speak to our values. Lumping together the words crime, youth and victims is a statement of values. This administration refuses to see our children as deficits. They are not deficits that need to be managed. We see our children as assets that need to be unearthed.”
Moore signed the executive orders on the eve of a deadline for the governor to submit any reorganization of government to the General Assembly for review.
The legislature will have 50 days in which to voice an objection.
“As the governor reminds us, every child has unlimited potential and deserves our dedication and support,” said Carmel Martin, special secretary of the Governor’s Office for Children. “It is up to all of us to ensure that they have the capacity to reach that potential.”
Martin joins the administration with a deep background in federal education policy. She was an advisor to Joseph Biden’s first presidential campaign and Sen. Edward Kennedy. She also was an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education.
In addition to Martin’s role at the Office for Children, Martin will serve as senior advisor for economic mobility.
Historically, the Governor’s Office for Crime Prevention and Policy has functioned as a clearinghouse for federal aid including grants for criminal justice, juvenile justice, and victims’ services. The agency also worked with nonprofits and local government agencies to obtain grants for public safety.
Additionally, the agency will work on reducing juvenile crime, Moore said.
“We must hold our children accountable if they break or violate the law,” Moore said, adding that the agency must focus on providing the support “that they need to choose a better path than we’re doing wrong.”
“I want to see the office of crime prevention and policy work in collaboration with state leaders to bolster accountability, rehabilitation, and prevention,” said Moore. “We do not have to choose between having a safe Maryland and a just Maryland. We can and we will do both.”
Moore used a similar process a year ago to propose the creation of the Department of Service and Civic Innovation. The legislature codified the creation of the agency through legislation.