Government
4:08 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Kan. Head Of Social Services Steps Down

Rob Siedlecki, the Kansas Social and Rehabilitation Services Secretary, is stepping down December 31, Governor Sam Brownback announced Thursday. Siedlecki's time in office, which began in January 2011, was marked by controversy.

The Associated Press reports:

Some legislators, particularly Democrats, began criticizing Siedlecki even before he was confirmed in late March 2011. One issue was his reorganization of the top SRS management and another was the administration's pursuit of faith-based social service initiatives.

Siedlecki will be returning to Florida, according to a prepared statement, where he was formerly a Department of Health official.

State Senator David Haley, a Kansas City, Kan., Democrat, disagreed with Siedlecki on multiple policy issues yet said he always found him open to discussion and voted for his appointment. To Haley, Siedlecki was only carrying out Brownback's policies and, in his words, "Kansans should choose not to shoot the messenger."

Haley said Siedlecki's changes to SRS are so fresh, many have not been fully implemented and "no harm has yet been done."

The senator said Siedlecki may not have understood that programs and policies that might work in his native state of Florida are not acceptable in the Sunflower State. Haley said the outgoing secretary was "not fully understanding that Kansans may be pro-marriage, but it's not necessarily an answer to poverty," referring to a recommendation that the cycle of poverty could be broken if more people marry.

6 News Lawrence has more about the public reaction to Siedlecki's decision in July to close the Lawrence SRS office and about the questioning Siedlecki faced from the legislature about his policies.

Stay tuned for more from KCUR.

Story updated  5:20 a.m., Fri 12-16-11