Agencies report to Douglas County Commission what impact closure of Lawrence SRS office would have

Representatives of nearly 20 local agencies testified Tuesday before Douglas County Commission about the impact of closing the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services office in Lawrence.

SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. has said closing the office will save the state $413,385 per year.

But representatives of local agencies said much of the savings to the state would be shifted as costs to their organizations.

Meanwhile, they said an unknown number of vulnerable Kansans would lose care because they wouldn’t be able to travel to other cities to access services. In the long run, the cost to Kansas will be greater because the loss of the SRS office will produce more emergency situations, local officials said.

Here are portions of some of their submissions:

Lawrence Community Shelter

Due to loss of efficiency, it is estimated that the SRS closing could double work time with guests needing SRS interaction. Hiring a new case manager, increased transportation costs, $52,400.

Independence Inc.

Adult Protective Services Reports: Investigation not feasible by phone or computer. Requires face-to-face visits by SRS employee.

The cost of increased staff time, transportation and other items to accompany consumers to SRS offices in other cities estimated at $800 per month.

It is unlikely that service interruptions can be avoided.

Visiting Nurses Association

Possible cost of $25,000 per year, including $16,000 in transportation costs for Medicaid clients when needing to go to the SRS office. Many of the 286 per year Medicaid patients do not have telephones and most do not have home computers. VNA would have to arrange for transportation to bring patients into VNA offices to work with VNA social workers to complete online forms. There is still a face-to-face requirement in the application process that would require patients being transported to the nearest SRS office or a case worker going to the patient’s home. Most patients are sick and frail and it is a hardship to leave their homes.

Success by 6

$33,400, much of which would be transportation costs.

Cottonwood Inc.

Community employment division, JobLink, would incur additional annual costs related to staff time and transportation of approximately $60,000.

Increase in the number of people in crisis forced to access Medicaid waiver would result in higher costs to the state of $30,000 per person.

Individuals with developmental disabilities who would have to be driven to different city to apply for Medicaid, food stamps, etc., $20,000.

Closing the SRS office would result in the loss of a critical local link in our community. There is no way to assess the value of the collaborative relationships built over the years with the local SRS office. Cost: Priceless.

Douglas County Senior Services

$38,400 to $39,000 for increased staff and travel time to assist seniors with various SRS services, such as food stamps.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

An inmate re-entry program would cost an estimated $8,351 more annually for transportation for SRS appointments. The immediate concern is the success of inmates upon their return to the community. Without access to basic transitioning benefits through food, housing and financial assistance, inmates may continue victimizing our community, eventually spilling over to the ever-increasing incarceration and costing our society even more.

Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority

In terms of additional costs per year, we estimate that an additional 600 hours of case management services at a cost of approximately $12,000; $3,000 in copies, scanning and faxing, and $8,000 in transportation.