Old meets new as Kathy Schey returns to her former workplace in Frederick County to launch its latest division.
Schey will begin her role as director of Frederick County’s new Division of Senior Services on Monday after her appointment was confirmed by the County Council on Tuesday. Senior service advocates and county leaders hailed the decision as a major step in long-awaited plans to better plan for and serve the county’s senior residents.
Replacing the county’s Department of Aging, which falls under the Division of Citizen Services, with a separate division for senior-specific services topped the list of recommendations in the Seniors First report. The report, published in 2016, offered a set of 33 recommended improvements in services based on a yearlong assessment of services and needs.
The report highlighted the need for a new division to address the needs of the county’s exploding senior population, which is expected to exceed the number of school-aged children in the county by 2020, according to Maryland Department of Planning projections. And not all of those adults 60 and older have the same needs: In addition to the oft-stereotyped frail and medically dependent seniors, there are also those retirees eager for recreation and service opportunities.
As division director, Schey will take responsibility for carrying out these expanded and improved services, including those currently offered through the Department of Aging, which will transfer over to the new division.
County Executive Jan Gardner, who appointed Schey to the role, also highlighted her experience and enthusiasm as reasons she was chosen from the pool of candidates.
Schey formerly served as the Maryland Access Point coordinator for the county’s Department of Aging, and has also provided senior services in roles with Howard County government and Catholic Charities. She received a master’s degree in management of aging services from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. In the last decade, she has also experienced the challenges of caregiving firsthand with her parents, who suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, Schey said.
Schey most recently worked for the Frederick Rescue Mission as its development director and leader of Faith House, a transitional shelter for homeless women and children that opened in 2017. Schey expressed sadness at leaving behind the Rescue Mission and the programs she had helped develop, but was excited about the opportunity to have a role in shaping the future of county senior services.
Asked what her goals for the new division are, Schey named reviewing the recommendations and data in the Seniors First report fostering partnerships with other community organizations as top priorities.
Melanie Cox, president of Advocates for the Aging of Frederick County and co-chairwomen of the Seniors First Committee, said she was thrilled at the news, crowning it a “key” and “critical important” step in understanding and serving the county’s aging residents.
Schey will oversee a division budget of $3.86 million and nearly 40 employees, a majority of whom are current Department of Aging workers, county spokeswoman. Schey’s position, as well as two of the three department heads who will serve under her, were created in the restructuring with funding included in the county’s fiscal 2019 budget, Laxton said.
Her annual salary will be $115,740.