Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced Wednesday that she plans to merge state agencies providing services to poor and troubled families, the elderly, the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled into a single large department.
Kelly said she believes Kansas residents served by the Department for Children and Families and the Department for Aging and Disability Services will benefit from having a single "point of entry" into state government. Her plan also would move juvenile justice programs from the Department of Corrections into her new Department of Human Services.
The Democratic governor and her top social services administrator, Laura Howard, stressed that they're not merging the departments to save money or cut employees. Howard, the secretary for both DCF and KDADS since Kelly took office, said the merger would create a "modern" human services agency.
The two agencies and juvenile justice programs have a combined annual budget of about $3 billion a year and more than 5,000 employees. They oversee four state hospitals and a juvenile correctional complex.
The Democratic governor said she will submit an executive reorganization order to the Republican-controlled Legislature after it convenes Monday. The order will take effect unless one house votes to reject it within 60 days.