Archive for Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Local agencies say people will lose services, costs shifted if SRS office is closed by Brownback

July 19, 2011, 12:21 p.m. Updated July 19, 2011, 4:58 p.m.


Related document

Agency responses to SRS closing ( .PDF )

More crime, more misery, and really no savings. That would be the end result of closing the Lawrence office of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, according to numerous local agency and governmental entities.

The local representatives testified to Douglas County commissioners on Tuesday to help put together an appeal requesting that Gov. Sam Brownback reverse the decision to shut down the office, which deals with thousands of people each week.

“We think that the children and vulnerable adults in Douglas County could face harm and loss, and I cannot put dollars and cents to that," said Sky Westerlund, executive director of the Kansas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Brownback and SRS Secretary Robert Siedlecki Jr. have said the Lawrence office and eight others must be closed as a cost-cutting move.

Siedlecki has said eliminating the Lawrence office — the largest of the planned closures — will save the state $413,000; most of that is in rent that the state pays.

But representatives of nearly 20 local agencies at the meeting said the savings would be transferred as costs to them.

Most said if the Lawrence office is closed, many vulnerable residents would be unable to access services and would eventually require more expensive medical care.

They also rejected the notion by Brownback and Siedlecki that people could access services by traveling to offices in other cities, such as Topeka, Overland Park and Ottawa, or use the Internet or telephone.

Other agencies said they would see their travel costs and travel time skyrocket because they would have to take people to other cities. This would subtract from the time they have for helping others, they said. And many said they would have to hire more caseworkers and other support employees.

“It is almost going to double the amount of time it will take to work with some of these clients,” said Loring Henderson, director of the Lawrence Community Shelter.

He said the SRS office closure seemed like an insurmountable challenge.

“It's almost like trying to deal with inconsistencies in the Bible,” he said. “You just kind of rub them together, and rub them together, and you deal with them.”

Laura Bennetts, co-chair of the Douglas County Commission on Aging, said the loss of the SRS office and social workers, would “be a crisis like losing emergency services at a hospital. We are so reliant on social workers. You cannot replace them.”

Several voiced concern that cases of child abuse would increase without the Lawrence SRS office.

Judy Culley, executive director of Shelter Inc., described how currently, SRS, the Douglas County district attorney’s office, law offices and various other agencies, work together on child abuse cases. Without a local SRS office with knowledgeable employees, she said, “time is lost.”

But state Rep. TerriLois Gregory, R-Baldwin City, said that in her conversations with administration officials, it was her understanding that SRS will continue to have child protection caseworkers in Lawrence “and have the ability to immediately respond.” SRS officials have also made this statement to the Lawrence Journal-World.

Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson, however, said in his talks with SRS officials, they haven't provided any details on how this would work.

“I will tell the commission, I am not optimistic.” Branson said.

He said that in talking with SRS officials, “When pressed, how many workers, where would they be housed, assigned -- they said to each one of those questions: ‘We don’t know.’ It stunned me,” he said.

He said even if a contingent of SRS employees are based in Lawrence, that won't make up for the loss of numerous social workers currently here who are able to work with families to prevent emergency situations.

“We would just be picking up the pieces once abuse and neglect occurs,” if the office is closed, he said.


Paul R Getto 6 years, 11 months ago

They have been closing SRS down for years, particularly in rural Kansas. They now promote the following for school personnel, who are designated reporters: "Employees may file a report of suspected abuse anonymously to either the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) by phoning 1-800-922-5330 or to local law enforcement officials." If it's really nasty, I suppose you call the cops. Otherwise, it's "Press one if hubby is beating the kid; press 2 if the child is being abused by the neighbor, press 3 if.........." The real problem will be people who need nonemergency help and don't have a car or friends to drive them to another town.

Synjyn Smythe 6 years, 11 months ago

Branson's alleged fears are unfounded. SRS is required by law to provide certain services, and shall continue to do so. All Branson is doing now is parroting the nonsense espoused by his sugar daddy, Paul Davis.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

According to posts on various stories about this, services in Florida, where the new director comes from, are pretty bad.

madameX 6 years, 11 months ago

How? If they're shutting down all the practical avenues to providing these services why should Branson or anyone else just trust that these services will magically be provided just because there are some words in a book somewhere that say that these services have to be provided?

OldEnuf2BYurDad 6 years, 11 months ago

"a crisis like losing emergency services at a hospital"

A perfect analogy. Like LMH closing down their ER.

"SRS is required by law to provide certain services, and shall continue to do so"

Depends on your definition of "provide". The services will be available... to anyone with a computer, computer skills, an internet connect, a reliable car and the money to buy gas. BTW: I just described the opposite of the typical SRS client. Uneducated, poor, no resources, no transportation: THIS is the typical SRS client.

Lana Christie-Hayes 6 years, 11 months ago

I agree with your sentiment, OldEnuf..but I must say that there really is no TYPICAL SRS client anymore. Many are educated and hardworking folks who have been dealt a hard blow during this economic bust. What makes it difficult about this brand of the needy is that they really don't even know WHERE to turn. It is the local agencies/advocates that try to help them find the help they need. Which all comes back to the same problem. Without an SRS office in close proximity to these agencies, it further burdens the agency which is trying to help them to find the manpower and hours to educate the educated on how to obtain the services which may or may not be available to them.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 11 months ago

"we've got to compromise during these tough economic times. "

Translation: The rich say we're broke, so the poor must pay.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 11 months ago

Yes, prole. I thought you were all for the T. This seems like another good idea you have rejected out of hand. Why do you hate SRS clients?

somedude20 6 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

Unless a lot of people come together and sue the state for negligence and obtain a court injunction to prevent the SRS from closing I do not see Brownback changing his mind.

I find it difficult to believe that the State of Kansas can simply walk away from a lease contract for no apparent reason. Certainly there must be legal grounds for a lawsuit.

And I also question the legality of secret meetings by a group that is designing legislation for states across the USA. I firmly believe this group of neoconservatives christian fundamentalists and the corporate backers want to over throw the USA government.

Is this legal?

ALEC Exposed: State Legislative Bills Drafted by Secretive Corporate-Lawmaker Coalition

This week the Center for Media and Democracy released 800 model bills, legislation that is straight out of the corporate playbook and drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

The group’s membership includes both state lawmakers and corporate executives who gather behind closed doors to discuss and vote on draft legislation.

ALEC has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months for its role in crafting bills to attack worker rights, to roll back environmental regulations, privatize education, deregulate major industries, and pass voter ID laws.

Thanks to ALEC, at least a dozen states have recently adopted a nearly identical resolution asking Congress to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop regulating carbon emissions. We are joined by Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media Democracy.

Koch Brothers, ALEC and Their Corporate Allies Plan to Privatize Government

Flap Doodle 6 years, 11 months ago

Is ALEC your new designated font of all evil, merrill? You've posted this same text at least four times in the past three days.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

Any comment on the substance - eg. ALEC?

gudpoynt 6 years, 11 months ago

dubious perhaps, Merrill, but not illegal. It's not like they're actually passing laws, they're just organizing a way to draft proposals. Freedom of speech, assembly, petition, etc. Anybody (with lots of support and resources) can do it, and do it legally.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

Yes, it's almost certainly legal.

But, it's pretty shady nevertheless - having written the laws, the corporate folks then disappear and are never mentioned in public when the laws are promoted.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

Who funds the above back door groups? I say:

If anyone noticed the so called Tea Party is funded by the same sources that fund the extreme right wing thinkers like the Brownback administration:

  1. Koch Industry money

  2. Wal-Mart family money

  3. The Erik Prinz family money which are most noted for the Blackwater Mercenary Money

  4. The DeVoss family who made their fortune from a pyramid scheme known as Amway Products

  5. Pete Peterson foundation people who want to kill Social Security Insurance and Medicare Insurance

  6. Bush Family = quite famous not only for their bank robberies but oil and weapons dealings as well

  7. The many other families and corporations who do not pay taxes BUT love the tax dollar handouts funded by middle class tax dollars :

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 11 months ago

Merrill is obsessed with back doors. lulz

lunacydetector 6 years, 11 months ago

sorry folks, but the s.r.s. recipients will most likely move closer to the other towns with offices. i am sure there will be child protective and adult protective services still in lawrence. the t bus will have zero riders, the panhandler kiosks the city will be installing downtown will be a complete waste of money, and the people that work for some of these agencies that rely on s.r.s. clientele will be out of work.

on the bright side, lawrence will look more like boulder, colorado, since they ran the poor out of town years ago judging by their average incomes. boulder is what lawrence has tried to emulate for years.

notanota 6 years, 11 months ago

Moving? If they could move that easily, I bet there wouldn't be a problem with just driving to the next city for services.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 11 months ago

Sure. They'll pack up all their belongings in their Welfare Cadillacs and move to a new community and, with no effort whatsoever, find new places that take Section 8 and easily come up with new rent and utility deposits because, of course, losers on SRS know where all the sucker organizations are.

Do me a favor? Bend over and grab your shoes...and try to lift yourself off the ground. How well did that work for you???

lunacydetector 6 years, 11 months ago

when ottawa closed their office, those folks moved to lawrence.

notanota 6 years, 11 months ago

Ottawa SRS Service Center 2231 South Elm, Ottawa KS 66067 Phone: (785) 229-8600 TDD: 1-800-766-3777 Fax: (785) 229-8643

That office?

Doug Fisher 6 years, 11 months ago

Lawrence doesn't even begin to compare with Boulder. Larryville is lacking in topographic features and Boulder people are generally outdoorsy folks unlike the increasingly obese folks in KS.

Motivation 6 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, and Boulder has a higher crime rate than most suburbs....child abuse will go uninvestigated, domestic abuse will be a reactive investigation. i.e. once the spouse DIES, we'll do something.

I no longer live in Lawrence for just this reason. It made me sick to my stomach to watch abused children be shuffled back into violent and abusive homes. Foster homes abusing the children even worse, and then children reissued to the same home. Privately owned foster care systems that don't care about the children, our future. I don't think shutting the SRS down is what Lawrence needs. I believe a complete overhaul of the entire family court system is what Lawrence needs. Oh, but I bet that's not in the budget either, huh?

Guess more children (our future) to be abused, more seniors (our past) to be neglected...I've never understood the political agenda of Lawrence. That's why I moved.

lunacydetector 6 years, 11 months ago

Lawrence is safer than 9% of the cities in the US.

Boulder is safer than 15% of the cities in the US.

i'd think crime would drop once the s.r.s. people will move closer to their check. when ottawa closed their office, those folks moved to lawrence.

notanota 6 years, 11 months ago

Privately owned but publicly financed foster care systems are one of the worst ideas ever to happen to children.

LHS56 6 years, 11 months ago

Wow.....can't believe how everyone seems to be picking on Branson. He is simply trying to do the job he was elected to do. And I think he has been doing a great job. Back off or we'll loss another good person and probably end up with another expert from Florida. (I know this is an elected position....just had to put my dig in...g)

Godot 6 years, 11 months ago

Too bad the taxpayers are already being hit with tax increases to cover that $18,000,000 community center called a library. Just too many "wants" to take care of the "needs."

kernal 6 years, 11 months ago

I put my dead horse in the ground on that one, Godot. I think most people in town have pulled their heads out of the clouds now. Except for that stupid rec center proposal.

Maybe we should rename Lawrence as Lalaville.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 11 months ago

But. But. But. Aren't the poor in Lawrence supposed to do all their SRS stuff online now? And isn't the public library where they all go to use free computers with Internet access?

Perhaps this is all part of a Big Plan and we mere mortals just haven't been able to see it?

Or not :-)

madameX 6 years, 11 months ago

Honestly, if people had had any idea that this was coming they might have voted differently. But we didn't, becuase the governor and the SRS director didn't feel the need to tell us. Which is part of the problem. If the people in the know can't be bothered to tell you that a need exists then how are you supposed to choose between "need" and "want"

However, I feel like I shouldn't even have to point out that the library tax was local ballot issue that was specifically passed by the community that is to be affected. Obviously not everyone was in favor of it, but at least the method by which it was passed is about the most direct form of representation that there is. Whereas, the decision to close the Lawrence SRS office was made by the director of an adminstrative agency, who was not elected by anyone, and the official line is that said decision was made due to budget cuts, voted on by the legislature, who also were not told what they likely consequences of these budge cuts would be. So to compare the library funding tax to the SRS office is kind of apples and oranges.

Ceee 6 years, 11 months ago

I'll sign your petition for better and more proximate vet care. Our military personnel deserve better than they have been receiving. But I wonder if any protest about SRS will change the decision made by a government that seeks no input from its citizens. The welfare of our people is not a prime concern of the State of Kansas administration.

Also, I don't see how closing the Lawrence SRS office is a precursor to initiating reform. The rent money (if the lease can be broken without cost) obtained by eliminating our office will not flow to bring about reform. Most likely it will go to pay for the out of state consultants who made the choice to close the local office in the first place. Or perhaps the state will use it to cover the legal bills for their Planned Parenthood lawsuit.

Besides I don't buy the idea that closing the office will save money. Office space and utitilty costs will be increased at other facilities. Travel costs will expand. Computer and phone costs will grow. And our people will suffer so that some out of state bean counters can justify their consultancy. Dumb decision.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 11 months ago

Maybe it will go for the salaries of those new folk in the "Office of Faith Based Initiatives"

Lana Christie-Hayes 6 years, 11 months ago

Believe ME!.. SRS recipients HAVE to come up with some very creative ways to survive! So what do you do when the beans start costing too much.. eat earthworms and grasshoppers?

Lana Christie-Hayes 6 years, 11 months ago

or maybe just pick up some road kill and take it home and cook it up! ??

earline james 6 years, 11 months ago

That "road kill" suggestion is not that far off.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

If the money has been spent, and replaced with bonds, it's not available to pay retirement benefits.

In fact, bonds are debt obligations, which means that we'll have to pay that money back with interest.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

It's not just bookkeeping.

That money has to come from somewhere - we're currently running large deficits each year. Where will it come from?

So, instead of having an asset, which we had before the fund was spent on other governmental expenses, we now have a liability.

Governmental insanity at it's best.

bradh 6 years, 11 months ago

If they close the SRS office we're being told that the poor will go without medical services, etc. I don't believe SRS provides medical services and I doubt they drive their clients to the clinics, etc. I don't know, but I'm guessing SRS personnel mostly help fill out paperwork and make determinations on complaints they've received. They can make complaint determinations from any office, so what we seem to be missing is help filling out paperwork. We have so many interested parties here, most with cars, why don't we set up a bunch of volunteers to pick up the people needing services and take them to the library to fill out forms and then take them to the medical sevices. The poor get better service and everyone is happy.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

"I don't know, but I'm guessing"

Why not find out first and then form your opinion?

bradh 6 years, 11 months ago

Like the other people on here who don't have the foggiest idea what options were even presented to save the state money? They just want all the services to continue as is, never mind the money isn't there.

Madame X at least seems to have some detailed information and makes the best case I've heard for not closing the site. I still think volunteers could help alleviate some of the pain.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

We seem to have plenty of money for massive and exorbitant state house renovations, big new road projects, and hiring outside counsel for lawsuits.

It's a matter of priorities.

But why would you want to form an opinion without knowing the facts first? What's the point?

madameX 6 years, 11 months ago

SRS doesn't directly provide medical services, but it is through SRS that people can apply for healthwave (and I'm told you can't do that online, you actually have to go to an office to taking them to the library isn't going to cut it) So the reasoning is that fewer poor people can access healthwave, therefore fewer of said poor people will be able to access medical care.

Also, you and plenty of others says "set up a bunch of volunteers" like there are just crowds of people hanging around with money, time and cars on their hands at the exact moment they are needed. Sorry, but it doesn't work like that. It's ridiculous to think that everyone who objects to the closing of the SRS office could realisticly drop everything and devote all their time to driving people around and helping with paperwork in order to accomodate the State of Kansas's bad decision. Nor should they have to.

Kontum1972 6 years, 11 months ago

i heard the SRS office was going to be converted to a quik mart....

Centerville 6 years, 11 months ago

I liked the print headline " CRIME AND MISERY!!!! " Very dramatic!

Don Whiteley 6 years, 11 months ago

Let's oppose the closing of the SRS office in Lawrence. In fact, lets protest and oppose every budget reduction currently being discussed or future budget cut proposed. Oh, wait a minute, that's already happening. And while we're at it, lets continue our opposition to any form of tax increase, except of course, for building a parking garage and a drive-up window at the Lawrence Public Library. Let's take every step we can devise to absolutely insure that our State and Federal governments' debt continues to skyrocket into the stratosphere, insuring that instead of spending tax money to help our citizens, we pay it instead to bankers and creditors as interest on our debt. Let's continue this path until our debt exceeds any ability the State has to pay and creditors cut us off. That way, we get to close ALL the SRS offices, stop all support to our State's needy, and get a real lesson in what it means when our governments go bankrupt.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

Where is the SRS money going?

Is the Brownback admin reducing spending of merely reducing services?

Brownback is offering a lot of tax dollar give aways to new residents?

The question goes like this: What makes anyone think neoconservatives reduce spending?

81% of the national debt was accomplished by Reagan,Bush and Bush yet they were always screaming less spending and smaller government. None of which ever happened.

Is duped the word of the day?

Where is the money going?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

A purge is the removal of people who are considered undesirable by those in power from a government, ...

Think the Kansas legislature can get no worse? Bad news of the day.

Brownback and his big money backers are fixing to purge all republicans who do not blindly support Brownback. Brownback and his big buck supporters are not republicans. But they know running libertarian,christian fundamentalist or nazi would never get them elected.

This is not a new concept for these thinkers. It's been done before in a big way. That is why there is no republican party per se any longer. Washington D.C. was purged of republicans in congress. Jerry Falwell was boastful and soooooo proud. Lots and lots of facist corporate and christian fundamentalist money did the trick.

This is why my conservative republican father in law no longer supports the former repub party. It is dead. In a rather stunning move he has gone to work for the democratic party which in my view has become more like moderate republican.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

In fact, by the time the second Bush left office, the national debt had grown to $12.1 trillion:

  • Over half of that amount had been created by Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy.

  • Another 30% of the national debt had been created by the tax cuts for the wealthy under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

• Fully 81% of the national debt was created by just these three Republican Presidents.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

Yesterday, in the first Wisconsin recall general election, Democratic state Senator Dave Hansen crushed his Republican opponent by a massive 66%-34% margin. Thump!! :)

Now it's time to move on to the main event—the six recalls against Republican state Senators on August 9. Democrats need to win three of those six in order to take control of the state Senate.

The latest polling shows Democrats way ahead in one and narrowly ahead in three more. We're winning, but it's super close.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 11 months ago

WASHINGTON — A month ago, the most important issues in New York's 26th Congressional District were the budget deficit, jobs, health care and taxes. If Medicare was an issue, pollsters didn't ask about it.

By the time Democrat Kathy Hochul declared an upset victory over Republican Jane Corwin in the special election Tuesday night in the western New York district, Medicare was the defining issue.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 11 months ago

How many times today did you spam this award-winning website with the same copy/paste drivel, merrill? You are also forgetting that attribution thing again. Plagiarism is killing the planet. Doing that is dumb and irresponsible !!!

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