Archive for Sunday, October 23, 2011

SRS says faith-based intiatives still around, just not getting as much attention

October 23, 2011


— When Robert Siedlecki Jr. took the reins of the state welfare agency, he vowed sweeping changes to establish faith-based initiatives to strengthen marriage and families.

And he certainly had the blessing of his boss, Gov. Sam Brownback.

But recently, Siedlecki’s comments indicate that effort may have changed direction.

In a meeting earlier this month with legislators, when asked about the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services’ faith-based initiative, Siedlecki said it didn’t exist.

He said SRS was doing what previous administrations had done, and that was ensuring that faith-based groups “have a seat at the table.”

He added, “They won’t be discriminated against; they won’t be discriminated for,” he said.

That seems a far cry from earlier statements.

In a pre-Memorial Day announcement, Siedlecki reorganized SRS, which included putting Anna Pilato in a new position called Deputy Secretary for Strategic Development and Faith-Based Community Initiatives.

Pilato had served for five years in the Bush administration, including as director of the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

But Pilato, who is making $97,500 per year, says that in her job she wears two hats — strategic development and faith-based initiatives — and that the strategic development part of her job, which includes overseeing the design and development of staff for SRS, is by far the larger of the two.

As far as the faith-based part of her job, she says she is developing a database of faith-based and secular community groups that could be used as a resource.

In his previous experience, Siedlecki also had been senior counsel with the U.S. Justice Department’s faith-based initiative task force under Bush.

In April, Siedlecki met behind closed doors with approximately 20 representatives of groups, many of them faith-based, that shared ideas on preserving marriages and lowering divorce rates. Siedlecki, a divorced father of two, has frequently spoken about the need to preserve families.

But some of those within that group that met with Siedlecki included controversial figures who have urged that poor women marry as a way to get out of poverty, that states repeal no-fault divorce and that polygamy was more in line with common values than same-sex marriage.

Recently, SRS applied for a $6.6 million grant to pay for either faith-based or secular counseling that encouraged unwed parents to marry. Under the proposal, if the couple completed counseling, the state would pay the $86.50 marriage license fee.

But the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rejected the grant.

Despite Siedlecki’s comments, which seem to be backing away from faith-based efforts, SRS spokeswoman Angela de Rocha said he has not changed strategy.

“There is no departure from what the secretary intended to do when he took office, which was bring more groups to the table to contribute to SRS’ mission, including faith-based organizations, such as churches,” she said.

She added, “There are no separate, free-standing faith-based initiatives. Rather, the object is to undergird SRS efforts already under way, for example, promoting adoption and working to help reduce childhood poverty. There are no new programs per se.”


Scott Morgan 6 years, 5 months ago

poor women marry as a way to get out of poverty...................not as dumb as it sounds. How about adding poor pregnant women make the father of the child pay his share, including the wellbeing of the mother.

Who cares if they get married. Pay for the child.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 5 months ago

Agreed. What do these people not get about "separation of church and state"? (And spare me the old trope of "those words aren't in the Constitution".)

Scott Morgan 6 years, 4 months ago

But when the state needs the church, watch out. AA is a prime example.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 4 months ago

Cait, it's a fact small cities, or even smaller towns do much better in keeping social problems in check when a large Catholic Church has a major influence. Not Catholic, but actually have picked a city to retire in which has a large Catholic shadow. Both Mz Wizz and I are professionals and looking forward to devoting our time to programs run by the church.

So many people are worked with through the church never hitting the harsh legal system. Yes, I know about the sexual stuff and the church, but this stuff happens in our government programs as well.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 4 months ago

Also knowing you cybererlee speaking cait, you most likely were going to hammer the abortion issue. Mz Wizz and I are both pro-choice. Like many aging conservatives, I was once so liberal it's thought I was so left, I ended up right.

When a street person is bottomed out, the church is often the last place who will listen.

Being a conservative is a freedom issue for me. If I am living my life without hurting others, leave me the he@@ alone. I could care less if you wear 35 seatbelts, leave me alone. Who cares if religion is involved solving our problems. The YMCA, Church sports leagues in the inner city have been gleaned when we most need them.

I see our movement growing too.

FlintHawk 6 years, 5 months ago

If it's not getting much attention, it's because the Bb Administration wants it that way. Secret planning sessions paid for by us. In camera meetings to which Kansans have no say; results announced, laws passed, and who cares if we like it.

tomatogrower 6 years, 5 months ago

"In a pre-Memorial Day announcement, Siedlecki reorganized SRS, which included putting Anna Pilato in a new position called Deputy Secretary for Strategic Development and Faith-Based Community Initiatives."

So they have created a high paying position to carry out initiatives that don't exist? Someone in her family must have donated a huge amount of money to Brownback's campaign. Disgusting.

LHS56 6 years, 5 months ago

It just seems to go on and on. Cutting SRS offices and then adding a "faith based " position. Can we say seperation of Church and State? Secret meeting on budget cuts. Open meeting Law? It is really frightening what Brownback's administration is doing to the people of Kansas. And yes....I voted for him. Shame on me.

thebigspoon 6 years, 5 months ago

I think your feelings of shame, LHS, are pretty much unfounded. Most of your posts reveal a person who has deep convictions, politically, and you are one of the millions in this state who find themselves hoodwinked by a lying, sneaky politician of the worst sort. The people of Kansas were sick of "business as usual" and, rightly, wanted a change for the better. What we got was underhanded, lying, everything-for-big-business. And, yes, it does seem to go on and on, and will, as long as the Republican side of the aisle does nothing to rebel against those who have heisted the party away from the control of the people. We, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, all have a choice to make, and the choice of doing nothing but bitching will not help or make things better. I don't care which party you support as long as you make it clear to your party that you will have no more truck with this administration's way of supporting itself and its financial supporters rather than the citizenry of the State Of Kansas.

thebigspoon 6 years, 5 months ago

(Bows deeply, blushes obviously) (makes no speech of victory) Thank you.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 5 months ago

"Faith-based" organizations certainly have a role to play.

The problem is, "faith based" often in practice is "conversion-based" or "proselytizing-based".

They try to convert as they try to help. This activity should not receive government funding.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 5 months ago

And Brownback likes it this way, flying under the radar.

He does not want light thrown on his activities. This much is clear.

pace 6 years, 5 months ago

Siedlecki and Anna Pilato are learning to tap dance.

asphhauler 6 years, 5 months ago

I can not believe this give someone a high paying job like that, that's funny because when you need the help from them SRS you get just enough to get by if your lucky. Then they get you down to where you have to rely on them and instead of letting you try to better your self they keep you down and if you have anything of value you have to get rid of it to get the help or you don't get the help.

thebigspoon 6 years, 5 months ago

I think he has already made himself a poor choice by hitching his wagon to Perry"s star.

lucky_guy 6 years, 5 months ago

My_life; Romney, serously. I doubt the Bd is in contact with Romney. Brownie has a direct line to the almighty through the ArcAngel Rick Perry. If Perry isn't the nominee then Bb is toast.

Confrontation 6 years, 5 months ago

Although I can't stand the idea of mixing religion with politics, don't lump all the faith-based programs together. Some of these agencies get federal or state grants that forbid them from preaching or mentioning religion. If they aren't following those guidelines, then report it. They have to compete for this money just like other agencies. Many of these agencies are also far more efficient and respectful towards clients than agencies like TFI or KCSL. Do I like that Brownback invites huge groups of Catholic priests to the Governor's mansion? No. Do I think that a religious, non-profit agency can benefit society? Sometimes.

iNoCSE 6 years, 4 months ago

Actually, experience in Ohio and some other states (Florida?) indicates that they specifically do NOT have to compete for the grants like others.

For a more dramatic example of this (and I believe I have an earlier, more detailed comment below), go to the Congressional Oversight Committee Hearings of 2008 as to how Flores (then head of the OJJDP) had been changing the grant requirements to favor abstinence- and faith-based applicants AFTER the RFP went out, how he also ignored his own staff's recommendations (i.e., scoring of the applications" and in general, how he got caught with his pants down in the matter. Even is own chief of staff, when questioned, pled the 5th amendment. This is why we have to get this entire "faith-based" operation out of government, which means getting an Executive Order repealed. There is too much thievery and crookedness among them.

Special Report: OJJDP Grant Making Scanda July 03, 2008 by Patrick Boyle (Includes related documents) Youth Today's ongoing coverage of questionable grant making by the U.S. Office of Juvenile Detention and Delinquency Prevention.

This very good investigative reporting apparently prompted the Congressional Hearings. We are going to need more on the same topic, only in the Faith-Based offices.

Kate Rogge 6 years, 5 months ago

They're not backtracking on anything. They just don't want to talk about it until it is a done deal. Lying sacks.

iNoCSE 6 years, 4 months ago

1994 "NFI" people that helped set up 1996 welfare reform were at this KS meeting, too. Bush's 2001 Faith-Based" Executive Orders sped up what 1996 enabled. Bush's Exec Order needs to be repealed. Obama won't, but it must go.

David Blankenhorn's 4/1/11 solicitation to the Gov. (79pp) : READ! It'll happen again:

I searched for any grantee with "faith-based" name -- OH, IA, St. Louis. So Siedlicki gets slick and puts "faith-based" underneath a state agency instead.

What FB-HM coalitions do: Take TANF $$ to peddle THEIR education courses for crony & FOR-profit corporations. And, of course, for God. HHS pays "Compassion Capital" startup costs, sometimes $50K, but sometimes $1.5 mil -- to set up the nonprofits which then sell FOR-profit curricula by the same sets of people! I've studied this -- it's an art form, getting the grants. I see how they do it.

Turns out, what they often don't do: Stay incorporated & file tax returns.

Hordes of pompous, religious-trained trainers running PR campaigns that GOOD=Married; BAD=Declined, or divorced, and pretend that lethal marriages meant, they just needed more of our classes, battered wives should just try harder next time. The public's horror show.

2003 Religion+Fatherhood (

One KS attendee also heads an HHS-promoted marriage-promo center at a reputable VA University; used to head up another -- but it got busted! Such cases of "Disappearing Healthy Marriage Coalition" (and $$) are on the rise, so they have to keep pushing for more of the same programs in new states, like KS.

"... worked with several healthy marriage projects including the [HHS/ACF] AAHMI as their research specialist; the Hampton Roads Healthy Marriage Coalition Board of Directors,* * the D.C. Healthy Marriage Coalition Exec Com'ttee, the Building Strong Families Research Project technical work group, the Next Generation Elites and Marriage Research Project, and an [unnamed] Annie E. Casey Foundation Initiative designed to strengthen marriages in low-income communities in the U.S."

Nonprofit Foundations+ Govt/HHS = Nonprofits selling Marriage Classes as deductible expense=who picks up the tax burden? More at (unlike these, I'm telling, not selling).

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