Nebraska negotiates new contract with foster care contractor
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska is negotiating a new and costlier contractor with a troubled Kansas-based foster care contractor that is less than three weeks away from running out of money for operations.
William Clark, interim CEO of St. Francis Ministries, told Nebraska lawmakers Friday that the nonprofit needs another $25 million to cover its costs for this year and about $10 million to cover a shortfall for the fiscal year that ended June 30, the Omaha World-Herald reports.
St. Francis signed its current contract in July 2019 and started taking over the care of abused and neglected children several months later in Douglas and Sarpy Counties in the Omaha area.
Dannette Smith, the CEO of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, said the state is pursuing the new agreement to maintain continuity. She promised increased state oversight, saying, “I think we learned a bitter lesson.”
St. Francis won the Nebraska job by offering to do it for $197 million over five years, less than 60% of the bid from PromiseShip, the Omaha-based agency that held the previous contract.
Nebraska lawmakers and child advocates raised concerns at the time, but state officials gave reassurances.
Covering the $25 million shortfall for this year will put the contract cost at $66.7 million, Smith said. That compares with the $65.8 million that PromiseShip had proposed for the same year.