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Probe: Kansas foster care provider falsified visit documents

December 11, 2020 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Employees of one of the largest foster care management providers in Kansas falsified documents to show visits with families that never took place, the state’s child welfare agency said Friday.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families said in a news release that it has taken action to address the allegations about St. Francis Ministries and requested additional information related to fiscal mismanagement at the Salina-based organization.

Secretary Laura Howard said her agency was made aware in mid-November of instances where an employee of the organization falsified documents to show they had visited with families when they had in fact not made those visits.

“Given the seriousness of these allegations I instructed my deputy secretary to immediately begin an investigation,” she said.

St. Francis Ministries did not immediately respond to phone and email messages seeking comment.

St. Francis has 2,432 foster youths in their care in Kansas, the state said. It also provides services in parts of Nebraska.

Kansas first learned about the allegations when it was contacted by a former employee of St. Francis, said Mike Deines, the department’s spokesman.

When the state reached out to St. Francis it found that the organization had already begun its own internal inquiry and was in the process of contacting foster care providers to confirm visits were being conducted.

St. Francis found that one employee did not visit 28 children who were living with 11 different foster care providers. That worker falsely documented 165 contacts with those children between February and October that did not occur. The worker was fired.

St. Francis also discovered another case of an employee, who was fired in August, who had failed to meet with foster care providers.

The investigation so far has not turned up any other cases of document falsification.

The state said it will assist in the case review process. It has also demanded St. Francis provide full access to all internal reports pertaining to expenditures of state grant monies received as well as financial stability.

“My agency will not rest until we are assured that Kansas taxpayer funds have been properly spent by SFM,” Howard said. “We know SFM to be good partners and we look forward to full transparency as it relates to both their fiscal affairs and documentation issues.”