A Lawrence man who earlier this month was appointed to a statewide citizens committee on substance abuse says it's time for the state to quit shuffling all "people problems" to one agency.
Bruce Beale, executive director of DCCCA Inc. and a member of the Kansas Citizens Committee on Alcohol and other Drug Abuse, said he believes the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services has become so large that its Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services division is suffering. DCCCA is a local drug and alcohol treatment and counseling agency.
"In my mind, ADAS is lost in the bureaucracy," he said, adding that ADAS receives only $12 million of the SRS' $700 million budget even though most Kansans see substance abuse as a key problem. "SRS is just too big."
BEALE SAID the citizens committee may suggest breaking ADAS away from SRS and either making it into its own department or combining it with other smaller SRS divisions such as mental health and retardation.
"That would certainly cut down SRS and make it more manageable," Beale said. "And it would make ADAS more visible."
So far, Beale said, it's unclear whether the 24-member committee will make the recommendation. And even if it does, he said, that doesn't mean the SRS will adopt the suggestion.
"We're just an advisory committee," he said. "We don't have any teeth."
This isn't the first time Beale has served on the committee, which meets four times a year and advises the secretary of SRS on alcohol and drug issues. He was the chairman of the group in 1984 and also served during the next two years.
OVER THE years, Beale said, the state has given SRS more and more responsibility.
"Typically, when you centralize, it's cost-effective," he said. "But today, every people problem in the state goes to the SRS. And that's not effective."
Beale said ADAS awards, monitors and evaluates most state substance abuse programs. ADAS doesn't provide any treatment, education or prevention services, but identifies what programs are needed, takes bids and awards funding. ADAS also monitors and licenses programs.
The committee's recommendations are not aimed at specific funding proposals or programs. Rather, the committee makes more general suggestions.
ONE OF Beale's continuing recommendations, for instance, has been for more substance abuse programs for youths.
Although DCCCA Inc. routinely bids for SRS funding, Beale said his appointment does not give DCCCA a better chance of obtaining state assistance.
"It helps that they know who I am," Beale said. "But if anything, it acts in reverse. You don't get any real brownie points. If anything, they're extra careful about showing any favoritism."