New State Agencies Are Part of 'Largest' Reorganization In KS History

By: Giang Nguyen Email
By: Giang Nguyen Email

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Touting it as the largest government reorganization in state history, Governor Sam Brownback and his cabinet launched a couple newly re-tooled agencies

Brownback had announced this massive government reorganization three months ago and it went into effect Sunday, July 1.

"Under this historic reorganization, SRS [the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services] becomes the Department of Children and Families. Congratulations!," Brownback said.

He also announced the new Department for Aging and Disability Services, merged from the Department on Aging, the Disability and Behavioral Health Services at SRS and parts of the Health Occupations Credentialing Division

The new agencies were launched with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Statehouse Monday, in front of a couple hundred state legislators, Brownback's cabinet members and agency employees.

Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said she was honored to head DCF, the Department for Children and Families, and she hoped to leave a legacy for years to come.

"In this century, not many people are able to start a new agency," she said.

"I think we will have more opportunity to focus. We've been fragmented and as anyone knows, when we can focus on the specifics of our core mission, we willl naturally be able to give better thought, better time, better emphasis to all of those.

She said DCF's core mission is "to protect children, promote healthier families and encourage personal responsibility."

DCF will operate on a $600 million budget with a staff of 2,500 - a little less than half the number employed by the old SRS. SRS had 5,500 employees.

Heading the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, or KDADS, Secretary Shawn Sullivan overseas a budget of $1.7 billion dollars and 2,650 employees. The defunct Department on Aging employed 163 people prior to the merge. Many came over from the SRS.

"There are differences between the older adults and persons with disabilities whom we will serve under the new agency, but they also reprsent many common challenges," Sullivan said. His agency's goal is to promote the dignity and security of people with disabilities, he told the crowd outside the Statehouse.

Service providers in attendance say the changes were much needed.

"We've been in business for 35 years and this is a historic day because what happens is there are so many funding silos and disjointed services for families," Mike Strouse, CEO of Community Living Opportunities, said. The organization provides services for children and adults with disabilities.

"What this really does is, it pulls all of the infrastructure together and makes it a bit more seamless for families and our job is to make it easier for them," he said.

"I've been doing this for 30 years and there's been nothing but falling through the cracks for all those years. I think that will continue to some degree, but you gotta put hope out there and good planning to fill in some of the holes."

"We hope that happens and we'll be right there to help," he said optimistically.

The reorganization is key to the Brownback administration's Medicaid reform. Medicaid will now be overseen by KDADS, though financial oversight will still be maintained by the Department of Health and Environment.

More information on the Department for Aging and Disability Services can be found on www.kdads.ks.gov.

Information on the Department for Children and Families can be found on www.dcf.ks.gov.


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