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In-depth look at Human Services needed

January 25, 2011
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald
The Iowa Department of Human Services is troubled. Their charge to provide for those in need is admittedly challenging and seemingly ever-present.

Steps taken last year which, for most purposes, ended the presence of a Human Services office in Tama and a lot of other counties remains questionable.

Charles J. Krogmeier, Human Services director, admitted openly the closing of the offices “wouldn’t save any money” when the move was made in July, 2010.

Instead, there was some ballyhoo this would allow for better services later.

Well, later is here and the Department of Human Services needs to reassess the office closing.

It’s a good bet the office space provided for Human Services free of charge by Tama County and the others could be staffed and put to better use than the appointments-only policy and the trips for Tama County residents to Vinton where the office is now located.

In his waning days in the post, Krogmeier warned beds and staff needed to be cut at the Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls in Toledo and at mental health institutions across the state.

For what it was worth, Governor Chet Culver said he was sticking by his 10 percent across-the-board spending reduction plan. This translated into a $27 million reduction needed at Human Services.

(At the same time, Culver was widely proclaiming a state budget surplus of $800 million -or more, which frankly didn’t quite make sense.)

Human Services has a new head, Charles Palmer.

Palmer has run the department before and has already told the legislature beds and staff at the Iowa Juvenile Home-State Training school for Girls in Toledo and at the mental health facilities will not be cut during the rest of this fiscal year.

For the well-being of those in need, to provide them with the services expected of a government and society, an intensive review of the program is necessary.

Whether Palmer will ride in on the ‘white horse to the rescue’ remains to be seen. Hopefully his experience will lead to an evaluation and structuring of services to provide effectively for Iowans.

-J. Speer


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