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Troubled foster care agency gets big boost from Nebraska

St. Francis Ministries will receive emergency funding from the state
St Francis Ministries
Posted at 9:08 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 22:28:05-05

LINCOLN NE — The financially troubled St. Francis Ministries, which won a contract last year to take over foster care and child welfare services for Douglas and Sarpy counties, will get a new emergency 25-month contract at a total cost of more than $147 million.

As 3 News Now first reported in August, 2019, the organization, which is based in Kansas, won the contract by underbidding PromiseShip, the company that had been providing the services for the past 10 years, by 60 per cent. At the time, PromiseShip executives and some state lawmakers questioned how St. Francis could do the job for that much less money. As it turned out, they couldn't.

St. Francis said it was in the hole by nearly $35 million over the time it took over services from PromiseShip. State officials say it needs to continue working with St. Francis to ensure continuity of services for the children, families and caseworkers involved in the two counties' foster care and child welfare system.

The yearly cost for services from St. Francis will now exceed what it would have cost if PromiseShip had been given a renewed contract last year.

Below is the full statement from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services regarding the emergency contract.

Lincoln – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has finalized an emergency contract agreement with Saint Francis Ministries to continue providing case management services in the Eastern Service Area (ESA), which is comprised of Douglas and Sarpy counties. This new agreement replaces their five year contract to provide services in the ESA signed in July of 2019, which Saint Francis Ministries was awarded following a request for proposal process.

The emergency contract is for approximately two years (25 months) and remains a reimbursement contract – all expenses have to be actual and allowable. DHHS has outlined enhanced deliverables for each year that address: caseload sizes, staffing requirements, recruitment of relative foster homes, and implementation of the Family First Federal Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) and outcome metrics for children and families. The contract estimate is $68,890,448 the first year and $78,362,884 the second (13 months). This new contract also reimburses Fiscal Year FY 2020 expenses of $10.5 mil and will last until February 2023. No additional funds from the Nebraska Legislature will be required.

DHHS CEO Dannette R. Smith said, “The Department has never wavered from doing what’s right for children and families in Nebraska. We remain steadfast in our obligation to ensure the best possible supports are in place for those we serve in the Eastern Service Area. We are working with Saint Francis and stand ready to assist in any way.”

“We are honored by the faith that our Nebraska partners have shown in Saint Francis Ministries, and we remain committed to caring for children and families in the Omaha area,” said William Clark, Saint Francis Interim CEO. “We move forward with the full intent of maintaining our close partnership with DHHS and continuing to bring an innovative, problem-solving approach to support those in our care. We also look forward to uniting with our community partners, who are an essential part of the team needed to change the future for vulnerable children and families.”

DHHS remains focused on helping people live better lives and continues to work collaboratively Saint Francis Ministries.