To the editor:
Many children will be hurt if Gov. Brownback closes the Lawrence office of the Kansas social service agency (SRS), as his administration has threatened. That’s because children, like people with disabilities, are core clients of these irreplaceable services.
Robert Siedlecki, the new SRS head, told the Journal-World that closing an office is like sacrificing a child. That couldn’t be more literally true — except that in this case many children will be sacrificed, not just one. Times are tough, especially for kids. Cases of child neglect and abuse have risen 11 percent in northeast Kansas in this fiscal year. And now Siedlecki, who lived in Florida until joining SRS in January, wants to close the service office!
In defense of his ill-advised decision, Siedlecki said that the child poverty rate in Douglas County (19 percent) is lower than in Shawnee and Wyandotte counties and that under 10 percent of the public in Douglas County is directly served by SRS. This shows two things: How much is at stake (one in five children, nearly one in 10 residents) and how little the Brownback administration seems to care.
But SRS remains open. The closure isn’t due until October. So we have time to resist. The city should file suit to overturn the decision. And we can rally again as we did on Monday at Plymouth Congregational Church, when 600 people stood up to be heard. The children of Lawrence will be defenseless only if we fail to defend them.