To the editor:
Members of the Kansas Legislature are considering an important and far-reaching vote. They will approve or reject Gov. Brownback’s Executive Order No. 1, which proposes to combine the Kansas Department of Aging with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services. Currently, the Department on Aging directly oversees programs specifically for older Kansans. SRS oversees programs for all adults over the age of 18 with disabilities. The needs of these very distinct populations are not the same and cannot be administrated in the same manner with success.
Currently, Kansas has fallen short in meeting the needs of both of these groups, with a three-year waiting list for over 3,200 older Kansans and a five-year waiting list for over 4,800 adults with disabilities. What will happen when the two departments combine and the methods for addressing the unique needs are no longer specific to the department? As proposed, rapid changes will occur without discussions on how the changes will affect those now receiving services or the effect on future programs.
The Douglas County Coalition on Aging recommends the rejection of this proposal. The importance of having a separate Department of Aging cannot be emphasized too strongly. It is important to directly engage the people who use the services, their families and those who work professionally with them in solving their long-term needs. Combining departments will unnecessarily disrupt services and extend wait time for those most in need.
Laura Bennetts and Pattie