HeadQuarters Kansas is eligible for state funding next year

Share this post or save for later

HeadQuarters Kansas, the state’s primary suicide prevention hotline, will be eligible for funding from the state for the next fiscal year, the organization has learned.

More than a month after staff concerns and conflict with the board hit a public breaking point, the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services has determined that HeadQuarters will be eligible for state funding for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Ruby Johnson, interim executive director of the nonprofit, said receiving the decision from KDADS on Friday was “an unspeakably large relief.”

“No matter where one stood in this larger conversation that played out — in part in the press and the public eye — the uncertainty was hitting a real point of strain,” Johnson said.

Ruby Johnson

“Everybody working in the best interest of our organization was just waiting one more day, waiting one more day, and waiting one more day. Knowing that we have that resolved and can move forward — it is an enormous weight gone.”

HQ announced the news in a release Monday afternoon.

“This decision reflects the ongoing collaboration between HQ and KDADS to ensure the organization’s stability, transparency, and compliance with all grant requirements,” according to the release. “HQ remains committed to providing critical suicide prevention services and support to Kansans in need.”

Turmoil came into the public view when a majority of the organization’s staff members published a letter calling for personnel changes — including for the entire board of directors and Johnson to step down. Staff members said the board’s actions were threatening the organization’s funding from the state.

The board, meanwhile, alleged possible mishandling of grant funds and defended becoming much more hands-on in the organization’s management, stating that they’re “in emergency mode.”

Because the board identified some funds that they believe may not have been used in compliance with grant requirements, the agency will be reaudited. However, the state had asked that HQ not repay the funds until after the audits were done.

Read much more on the background of the conflict and funding issues at this link.

HeadQuarters will still undergo an audit of its financial practices, though Johnson said that was going to happen whether or not the organization was eligible for continued funding.

“HQ will cooperate fully with the audit and implement all corrective actions recommended by KDADS upon its completion,” according to the release. “HQ welcomes the opportunity to strengthen its financial management and oversight to better serve its mission.”

Future funding agreements between the organization and the state could include additional monitoring and compliance requirements “as deemed necessary by the state agency,” according to the release. “HQ is dedicated to meeting these requirements and maintaining transparency and accountability.”

HeadQuarters also receives funding from Douglas County. The county has budgeted $353,020 for HQ for 2024 but does not yet have an executed contract with HQ. Johnson said she wants to meet with the county administration soon to move forward with that.

Johnson and the board also sent KDADS a management plan in early April. Johnson said the plan included increasing internal communication, providing necessary tools and information for people who are doing their jobs, and bringing in an outside party to facilitate the larger, ongoing conversation with staff.

Johnson said she’s been holding a lot of energy in abeyance waiting for confirmation of HQ’s funding eligibility, and the organization has continued its work in the meantime, but now she’s excited to do organization-level work and showcase the importance of HQ’s work to the community at large.

She said important internal conversations will be ongoing.

If our local journalism matters to you, please help us keep doing this work.
Don’t miss a beat … Click here to sign up for our email newsletters

Click here to learn more about our newsletters first

Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

More coverage: HeadQuarters Kansas


Latest Lawrence news:


Previous Article

Lawrence, Douglas County commissions to hear presentations on draft climate action plan; county to consider adopting it

Next Article

Lawrence outdoor pool to open early this year, hopefully stay open longer