The Nov. 22 editorial "Maryland's Duty to the Poor" gave an unbalanced depiction of Maryland's support for the poor.

Caseloads have decreased dramatically since 1995. More people are in jobs, and with our new flexibility in funding and regulation, we have designed programs that meet the needs of families so they avoid welfare in the first place.

We have no "obscure accounting devices" to hide Maryland's welfare savings in other programs. To the contrary, the state plans to expand its goals to include support for low-income working families who may never have resorted to welfare. Additionally, the suggestion that Maryland might use its welfare savings on programs not designed to support needy families is untrue.

Under welfare reform, Maryland still allows families to receive assistance for as long as five years. Maryland is also one of the few states that provides an income tax credit to people who have moved from welfare to work.

The Maryland Department of Human Resources subsidizes programs that provide emergency food to needy families and financial assistance to low-income families having difficulty paying utility bills or at risk of eviction. Our programs also assist homeless low-income families in locating housing.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening recently announced plans to spend much of Maryland's federal welfare block grant surplus on programs that assist the working poor. Under his proposal, a family of three with an income of up to $25,140 will be eligible for assistance with child care. Another $56 million is being set aside for use in an economic downturn; we estimate $78.7 million will be needed to support families in the event of a mild economic recession lasting only 12 months.

LYNDA G. FOX

Secretary

Maryland Department of Human Resources

Baltimore