March 28, 2023

Dawson County Journal

Dawson County, Nebraska

Lawmaker: Kansas should cut ties with foster care contractor

Mission, Kan. — The head of a Kansas legislative panel wants to end the state’s contract with its largest foster care contractor, after two former executives were accused of scheming to defraud the organization out of at least $4.7 million.

The federal indictments this month against the Rev. Robert Smith, the former CEO of Saint Francis Ministries, and William Whymark, its former chief information officer, capped a string of problems with the group including children being forced to sleep in offices and workers falsifying documents to show family visits that never happened.

State Rep. Susan Concannon, a Beloit Republican who chairs the Joint Committee on Child Welfare System Oversight, said Wednesday that the group doesn’t deserve to continue partnering with the state.

Late last year, Nebraska did what Concannon proposed and announced that it was terminating its contract with Saint Francis to oversee the care of abused and neglected children in two Omaha-area counties.

Saint Francis had been exceeding Nebraska’s caseload requirements and ultimately conceded that it had underbid its contract with the state. It had to ask for more money. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement that it was a mutual decision to transition those management duties back to the state.

Source: Nebraska Regional News