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'We’re all fed up': Employees say they were fired after protesting caseloads at Saint Francis

Posted at 8:04 AM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 09:04:54-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Last week, case managers with Saint Francis Ministries, the foster agency currently being investigated by state leaders, were speaking out about high caseloads. Now they say they were fired.

Aron Sanders is one of four case managers who decided to share their frustrations with their work outside the offices of Saint Francis last week.

“We’re all fed up; we’re all tired," Sanders said. "They had close to 30 [cases] and they were overworked."

He said on Wednesday he was locked out of his work phone and laptop and his keycard was disabled. When he went to find out why, he was given a letter, notifying him that he would no longer be working for the foster care agency.

The letter states:
"Thank you for meeting with us. During the last eight days, you intentionally missed court appearances and failed to do necessary work during time you were scheduled. These tasks are essential functions of your job to keep children and families safe. Your employment is being terminated."

Sanders said his fellow protesters also were terminated.

“It was very unprofessional, there was no name at the bottom here, very unorthodox," Sanders said.

Saint Francis ministries would not confirm to 3 News Now that these employees were fired, saying it was an HR matter, but said in part:

“When you are employed at Saint Francis Ministries, it is understood that you will show up to perform the essential functions of your job duties. When that does not occur and other employees must step in to ensure the safety of the children in our care, we will take action. Our focus is on caring for the children and families we serve and on providing full support to our employees who are doing this challenging and rewarding work.”

Sanders said he missed one court date because of tech issues, but that he was continuing to work while protesting.

“In between breaks we were checking emails, we were calling foster parents, we’re making referrals for each of these children, so we were actually doing work," Sanders said.

Saint Francis Ministries is currently being investigated by state leaders, with many witnesses testifying that case managers are overworked and undertrained in a hearing last Tuesday.

Sanders said he and the other caseworkers were not aware of this investigation when they began their demonstration.

Nebraska’s contract with Saint Francis will be up in 17 months, and some who testified at the hearing last Tuesday said it's time for the state to start looking at other options.