8.10.10

State of Kansas, blinded by saving money cuts closes services to state's blind.

While trying to look up those documents that told about my ex V.R. worker and the rehab center I cam across this aritcle by Phol Anderson of the Capatol Journal. What follows is the article and my comments. Tell me what you all think?

From CJonline
(Topeka Capitol Journal)
http://cjonline.com/news/local/2010-09-25/closure_deepens_the_darkness
Closing of Topeka facility leaves blind patrons searching, waiting for promised help elsewhere

by Phil Anderson
25 Sepber 2010



In the months before a state-run center for the blind closed earlier this year in Topeka, the Rev. Derrick Hall was receiving training there on how to cope with a sudden loss of sight that was brought on about two years ago by detached retinas.
Life skills, computer usage, learning to use a white cane while walking and reading in Braille were among areas in which he was receiving training.
But before he could complete his training, the Kansas Vocational Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, near S.W. 1st and MacVicar on the former grounds of Topeka State Hospital, was closed.
State officials said community-based services for the blind soon would be in place at locations across the state, allowing recipients to receive training closer to their homes — and not have to move to Topeka for several months or longer.

from me: Remember this bit about not having to travel to BFE to obtain needed services and training… You’ll read why later

on down the article.Nearly six months after the Topeka facility closed, the 52-year-old Hall is still in Topeka, waiting for community-based services.
"They said it would be better with the community-based services," the soft-spoken Hall said.

“"But so far, nothing has happened."

from me: …And this comes as an earth shattering shock? Nice to see the state of Kansas is as ass backwards and slow now as it was back when I first started receiving services through Voc. rehab over fifteen years ago.

Officials with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services said the agency is in the process of awarding bids to providers of services to the blind and visually impaired. SRS expects to announce the first providers in the next couple of weeks.
However, to date, no community-based services are in place.

from me: What? They’re still trying to get bids for services despite the RCB being closed? Really? Why in the bloody hell wasn’t this all a done deal prior to closing the center?

Hall said after the Topeka facility closed, he could have returned home to Leavenworth, where he was an associate minister at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church before he lost his sight.
Instead, he said, he opted to remain in the capital city after he began volunteering as a chaplain and front-desk worker at the Topeka Rescue Mission, 600 N. Kansas Ave. He also assists at St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church, 701 S.W. Topeka Blvd.
Each person with blindness or visual impairment receiving services from the state has a different story to tell. For Hall, his blindness developed over a short period — a matter of a couple of weeks.
"It did occur pretty rapidly," Hall said. "I knew I was having problems. I was getting ready to go to the doctor one morning and I couldn't see. I was unable to read. That was the first thing that went. Then the TV — I couldn't see it."
Hall had three surgeries for his detached retinas, "but none of them were successful," he said. All he can see now are "shadows."
He met with a vocational rehabilitation counselor in the Kansas City area regarding his options.
"He told me about the blind center in Topeka and asked me if I'd be interested," Hall said. "So, the following December of the same year — 2008 — I decided I'd go there."
Hall said he actually was at the center from March 2009 to March 2010 — "just shy of a year." The time was well spent, he said.
"It taught me a lot of things," Hall said. "It taught me to be independent. I was trying to do things on my own before I came, but I just didn't know how to do them. They were giving me those tools I needed."
In addition to learning mobility skills, Hall said he was being taught how to identify and select his clothes, how to cook and how to read Braille. He also was being trained in computer skills.
Then, around September 2009, rumblings started that the Topeka blind center was going to close. At first, he said, he and the others at the center were told the closure likely would take two years, and they would be long gone by then, with their training complete.


from me” Yeah right, don’t hold your breath

In short order, he said, he heard the facility would be closed in six months. Then three months. And finally, this past February, in 30 days.

from me: Funny how the state can be slow as hell when they have to put forth an effort to help people who are in dear need of services but can leap right into action when the outcome is to their , the state’s benefit.


It became obvious to Hall he would be out on his own before he mastered the skills he was learning.
"It closed before I reached the level I wanted to reach," he said.

from “me this is a sad story told many times. I know of several ex clients who complained of the same thing, leaving the program before they ever reached the level of skills they needed. Perhaps this is a reason there has been a history of revolving clients that come and go? I was one. They’d teach me enough to get by with the vision I had but not what to do, or having taught me what to do, not giving me enough self confidence to strike out on my own.

My plan was to move out of the residential program because I felt capable of doing the domestic tasks, but I still needed a lot of help with the computer and Braille."
He said five people were at the Topeka residential facility, which was open 24/7, at the time it shut down. About 15 employees at the center lost their jobs when the center closed, officials said.

from me: This is par for the corse… Clearly the state is more interested in their dear little budget that they can’t manage properly in the first place to give a fuck about who is going to be jobless or what people are meant to do in regards to being as independent as possible. It would seem to me that the state forgets that their actions impact… *gasp* real people!
for services…

Today, Hall said, he has $7,000 in computers that are gathering dust, waiting for him to be properly trained.

from me: Money management at it’s finest… Way to go Kansas! Thousands of dollars in equipment but neglect to properly train them on the use of same .

"They said, 'Don't worry, we're going to have more services set up in the community and you'll probably be better off,' "

from me: more bullshit from the state.Grab your rubber boots and grab a shovel… It’s about to get deep.

Hall said. "But since I've left, there's been nothing. No services whatsoever."


from me:here are a few words to watch out for if the state is telling youabout something that impacts your life. “don’t worry” reads worry yourself into an nervous break down. . “probily” reads “not bloody likely”. Also if the state is putting things in an “in the future” frame of mind it means they don’t have shit in place and are still in the brainstorming planning of whatever it is. As whatever services you were depending on will take ages and ages to resurface.


When the Kansas Vocational Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired opened in 1939, Helen Keller was the featured speaker.
For years, the center was located near S.W. 6th and MacVicar, on the extreme southeast portion of the former Topeka State Hospital grounds.

from me: Ah hah! that explains a hell of a lot. I wondered if there was ever a connection between RCB and TSH. .

It wasn't uncommon for passers-by to encounter blind and visually impaired people who were learning to walk with a white cane.
Then, in the late 1990s, Topeka State Hospital closed, signalling changes were in store for the rehab center for the blind, as well.
The Legislature required SRS to develop a new center that didn't include a workshop as a training center, as the previous facility had done.
A new training center was developed near S.W. 1st and MacVicar. The center included a dormitory where people receiving services could stay.


from me: Again money management at it’s finest. That newly built building that cost God knows how much, was in the process of being mostly finished. They were still building the dorm part when I was last there. That was in 02… meaning this building is not even ten years old yet. Now it’s just closed? Epic fail


.Changes continued, some having to do with funding restrictions. Only blind or visually impaired people who were interested in vocational and rehabilitation training would be eligible for services. That meant only those who planned to use their skills in the work force could receive services at the rehab center.


from me: Planing to work is good, however as anyone knows within the blindness community jobs are as hard to find as hin’s teeth. So what then? Even more money fartted away? And WTF cutting out a majority of the client population that could be served? The highest numbers of newly blinded are people who are at retirement age anyway. So if grandma needs to learn self care living skills, she’s got to be willing to work? Where? Mac Donnalds? And I bet the state would get grandma thousands of dollars of equipment but not help in finding her a job training in how to use it? Look. To my way of thinking this is very narrow minded. Not everyone wants to work, especially if they’ve retired. Grandma just wants to get about on her own, cook and clean and read.

There should be a choice. What are newly blinded older persons or those who, for whatever reason aren’t planning joining the workforce supposed to do? Sit around and collect social security, become locked in a back bedroom and forgotten about? Come on people this isn’t the day of warehousing our disabled family members just because we don’t want to deal with them. We have gone past that. This is a regression in the making.

community based services have been around for a number of disabled populations for years and years. Why o why RCB and the state of Kansas failed to see what these other community services were set up is beyond me..


”As a result, the number of people receiving services at the rehab center dropped from about 80 people per year to around 20.

from me: Uh. ya’think? That normally happens when you, o IDK cut out a majority of the population served! Wonder how many thousands of dollars the state spent hiring someone to figure that little tidbit out?

"The cost of the facility and serving that many people was pretty high," said Michael Donnelly, director of rehabilitation services for SRS. "It just got out of control."

from me: Yeah just like the insanity of not only cutting a majority of the population you serve? or closing down the center prior to getting every in place for community based services? Insanity is ramped. look out!

The cost to the state: about $20,000 per person per month.
The budget for the Topeka-based Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in fiscal year 2010, the last year of its operation, was $1,244,329.
Ultimately, the recommendation was made to shutter the rehab center for the blind in Topeka and have its services provided by private contractors in communities across the state.
The Facilities Closure and Realignment Commission Report, released in November 2009, projected that SRS would save $73,275 in state general funds and $344,015 in all funds by closing the Topeka blind center. The report further stated that "resources can be shifted to provide more services to a greater number of people without them having to travel great distances."


from me. This is stupid thinking at it’s finest. To save money you cut out a large portion of the clients who could use your help. Please tell me, how many of thousands of dollars will now be under even more strain when the blind who can’t access your services have to depend on AFDC, medicaid, food stamps, leap and other support services for poor people or those who are under employed. because of lack of timely and effective training. This is just like sweeping the ginormous pile of dog barf under the rug it’s out of sight, and thus becomes someone els’s problem.

The budget for new community-based services is $1.3 million over two years.

Donnelly said recently that SRS "wasn't at a place yet where we can announce who the successful bidders are" to provide services to the blind and visually impaired. "But we feel pretty good about the proposals we've got. It's going to increase our capacity and ability to serve people in their home community."


from me: again, this should go without saying… But I’m saying it anyway. WHY! Whty don’t they have the contracts in place? Why don’t they have the services in place? Feeling good about putting something off and off is grand, as long as it isn’t you who are depending on these services. Am I the only one here who thinks this is all kind of wrong?

The proposals being considered stipulate that bidders give SRS a plan that would serve people so they wouldn't have to travel more than one day to receive services, including going back home the same day. In essence, services would be offered within two hours of a person's hometown.
Such an arrangement, he said, would be "particularly helpful to those who are in the four corners of the state," Donnelly said.
Orientation and mobility training offered by the state could increase by 50 percent to 60 percent under the new arrangement, Donnelly said.
Vocational and rehabilitation training will target working-age people who want a job.
Donnelly said he believed those who were able to work should seek jobs. He said work is "important" and helps those who are employed feel as though they are "a full member of the community."
Rather than locking funds into the fixed costs of operating a training and residential facility that had "limited consumer demand," SRS officials said funds are being invested in developing and offering an enhanced scope of services at the community level.
The community-based model, SRS officials said, results in local access to services leading to competitive, integrated employment; assistive technology services; and independent living resources.


from me: I think I’m about to have a major break with reality and become quite insane. Let. me. say. this. as. best. i. can. What are people meant to do if they need and want services provided by your program but because of their wanting to work or not they may be turnd away? Working is good. If you can get it. You could have gobs and gobs and gobs of training, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get a job. The 70 to 75% une/under employment rate among working age blind tells me, lack of training on the blind person’s part, while playing a part in the job or no job. What counts more is the sighted people’s misconception of blindness and blind people. Yeah there is the ADA but the person not hiring you because of your blindness isn’t going to come straight out and say this. They’ll make up any reason, and you can bet there is no way to test if that reason is for real or just a ploy covering up the real reason.

Additionally, achieving a happy fulfilling life doesn’t always come as a perk once you join the work force. There are several other ways. more important than all that happy fuzzy Mr. Rogers, crap about feeling good is covering the most basic needs, food decent shelter, dependable transport. It is much much harder to get a job if you don’t have these basic things in place and if you try skipping over them and gr straight for the job, and meet with failure, that’s going to do a number on self worth and you’ll just stay stuck of state assistance thinking you are not worthy or able to work. Being rejected enough times does this to everyone I’d bet.
Officials stressed that vocational rehabilitation services for people who are blind or visually impaired continue to be provided statewide through local SRS service centers. These services haven't been affected by the closure of the blind center in Topeka. In fiscal 2010, 615 people who are blind or visually impaired received vocational and rehabilitation services at a cost of just over $1 million.
In addition, SRS officials said, "for the few consumers who may need access to intensive facility-based services, provider agreements have been negotiated with in-state and out-of-state organizations." SRS officials said such services may be funded through vocational rehabilitation dollars for eligible people.


from me: Wait! I think that they may of condricted themselves. On one hand you want to keep people in their home community but on the other hand you want to send some people out of state? What the fuck! Sending people out of state to places like the Colorado Center for the Blind cost more per person than instate residential training I would bet so WTF do you have to say about that?

Not everyone is excited about the proposed changes to a community based-only model for services for the blind and visually impaired.


from me: Preposed? give me a break. preposed means you haven’t taken any action on something yet and are trying to read how people react to an idea. This is past the preposed stage. They’ve already closed down the center so it is now in the action phase, right? Or am I just smoking too much crack?
Michael Byington, chief executive officer for the Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, 603 S.W. Topeka Blvd., said he believed there was a place for a residential facility, like the one that closed earlier this year

from me. Right on Mr Byington! We need a choice in how we learn to conduct our lives as blidnd people regardless if it was blind at birth or newly blinded. We need to have access to the training style that best fits our needs. Why must we have an either or sort of deal?in Topeka, as well as community-based services.
"I don't want to choose," Byington said. "I say we need both."
He said some blind or visually impaired people learning skills do so "more efficiently" when they are in a residential facility, where overly protective friends and family aren't around to do things for them.
For those who remain in their homes, he said, services may be offered only a few hours a week. Under such an arrangement, it likely will take far longer for them to learn skills,
:Byington said.


from meThis is why I’m not setting any sort of time line up for my receiving home based services and finding a job. I have no clue how long it is going to take, if this stuff isn’t even off the ground, I may be collecting old persons benefits before they get it all up nad going.
He said he and his organization have been "trying to do what we can to replace what's been lost."
Byington questioned the state and federal government focusing on those who want to go back to work, saying it leaves out others who also could be in dire need of services.
He gave an example of a mother in her 30s who lost her vision, with three young children at home.
"Her immediate need was rehabilitation so she could take care of her children," Byington said.
The woman was able to get some training, but only by virtue of saying she would be willing to seek work, he said.
Older adults who lose vision as a result of diabetes or people with eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, may not be eligible for services. Byington said he expects to see more people with serious vision problems because of a rise in medical conditions, such as diabetes, as well as an increase in the number of people who survive head injuries.
Byington said state officials formerly kept tabs on the number of people who were blind in Kansas. The highest number ever recorded was 6,000, he said. Yet, Byington said, the number should have been closer to 40,000 and 50,000.
The state stopped counting the blind in the late 1980s.
With current budget cuts, Byington said, information is difficult to come by for people who are blind or have visual impairment and are seeking services.
The state's referral and information line for the blind and visually impaired has been shut down, Byington said.

from me: Oh! shock! What? The state can’t count the number of blind people properly??? Wow who’d of thought? And bloody hell what are people supposed to do if they can’t get any services at all? There really should be some way to provide in-home programs or socializing programs for older blind persons, communities could have community centers. Take some of us unemployed younger folks and let us staff the community centers we could teach our own. So to speak. C’mon there has to be a way to make sure everyone regardless of wanting to work or not to get a way to get the help they need to live happyfullingl lives. His agency is left as the only toll-free phone number for people to call for information regarding blindness and visual impairment in Kansas, he said. The number is (800) 799-1499.
Ann Byington, wife of Michael and president of the Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, said the organization continues to seek services that will meet the needs of the state's blind and visually impaired population.
"We're going to move on, because we have to," she said. "We know in our own organization, we have to get the parents of young people involved, so they'll know who did the work to get things in place for them."


from me: Damn straight. You’re bang on. It just might come to a case of if the state refuses, for whatever reason,, refuses to provide services to a person just because they haven’t a job as their goal, that we’ll just have to do it ourselves, like I said up there. Staff neighborhoods with centers, who best to teach a blid person how to do something? Let another blind person teach them.

Move forward, don’t look back.

Phil Anderson can be reached at (785) 295-1195 or phil.anderson@cjonline.com

Closing thoughts.
I knew the state couldn’t manage things worth a tinkers damn. That rehab center just didn’t work for me. But for some it did. Despite my dislike of that feces place, I still think some services that would be dependable are better than nothing. I fear the state is blind to the needs of the blind and we’re going to be the ones to suffer for it.

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