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Watchdog: End privatization of Nebraska child services

September 23, 2021 GMT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A public watchdog of Nebraska’s child welfare services recommended Thursday that state officials end their practice of having a private contractor manage cases in the Omaha area.

The Office of Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare made the suggestion in a special report focused on St. Francis Ministries, a provider that has faced major financial problems after winning a state contract in 2019. Nebraska officials negotiated a new contract with St. Francis in January to prevent the provider from running out of money.

The inspector general’s report says Nebraska should terminate its contract with St. Francis, arguing that the provider hasn’t met several of its contractual obligations over the last two years. It also recommends that Nebraska return to its practice of having the state manage cases in the Omaha area.

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The 12-year experiment “has provided the state with a significant amount of data, all of which suggests that the privatization of case management has not delivered the intended benefits,” Inspector General Jennifer A. Carter said in the report.

The report came as the Legislature’s Executive Board voted to subpoena St. Francis to force them to testify at a hearing and provide lawmakers with documents related to their management.