Friday, May 4, 2012

This isn't the state I grew up in

I do not like much about government in Kansas right now. Honestly, a few moderate Republican Senators are all that is standing between us and the abyss, and they're all being hard-core targeted for ouster by the radical right wing of the party who thinks it should be getting its way in absolutely everything. Every day brings some fresh new story to remind me just how awful the executive branch and the House of Representatives are. I mean we're talking full-out assault on all things good, decent, rational, and generally in the best interests of the citizens of the state who aren't named Koch.

Today's tidbit is this:

Kansas' leading organization that advocates for victims of sexual and domestic violence has parted ways with the state welfare agency, saying that new requirements imposed by Gov. Sam Brownback's administration on an assistance program would put victims in greater danger.

The agency says they are unwilling to participate in new guidelines that call for all victims to undergo psychological evaluations. All victims. Also, 90% of those served would be required to find employment within 18 months. And confidential information would have to be divulged as the advocate helped draft a "corrective action plan."

The KCSDV has been working with victims for a long, long time and finds these requirements objectionable and unrealistic. Not all victims need or would benefit from a psych eval. Plus, the results of those psych evals could actually wind up hurting victims in court cases. I can personally promise you that a defense attorney representing a defendant in a domestic violence case would use any information possible out of that evaluation. We usually have to fight tooth and nail to get them in the cases where there really is a glaringly obvious psychological concern. In the vast majority of cases, we're met with hostility for even asking. But SRS of Kansas wants to order them for all, which means there's already a report out there for us to ask for just a copy of... That could get ugly is all I'm saying. And we're not even talking about family law cases.

Finding employment isn't feasible for all victims. And the term "corrective action plan" is obnoxious. It suggests that the victims need correcting, that they're the problem.

So KCSDV has decided to end its relationship with SRS rather than continue contracting. Of course, the SRS secretary is saying that the private organization failed to meet even minimum performance standards and had been struggling to meet accountability standards for months. But if the standards SRS is setting are offensive and potentially entirely harmful to domestic violence victims, can anyone blame a domestic violence advocacy group for failing to meet those standards? I sure can't.

I tell ya, it's hard to look at what's going on in this state and have anything remotely close to optimism.

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