In April, the Nebraska Legislature appointed nine Senators to the Eastern Service Area Child Child Welfare Contract Special Investigative and Oversight Committee to investigate the way in which DHHS signed a contract with St. Francis Ministries of Kansas to manage ongoing child welfare services in Douglas and Sarpy County.
St. Francis Ministries submitted a bid to provide child welfare case management services for five years for $197 million. This bid was 60% lower than the next highest bid. Instead of questioning that discrepancy, DHHS awarded the contract to St. Francis. Shortly thereafter, St. Francis Ministries warned that it would go bankrupt without additional funding. Meanwhile, a whistleblower reported that St. Francis Ministries purchased over $80,000 in tickets to Chicago Cubs games among other questionable expenditures. A new emergency two-year contract has been signed with St. Francis at a cost of an additional $2 million per month.
NAPE has been opposed to the outsourcing of child welfare to private entities for over a decade. The St. Francis debacle highlights why NAPE has repeatedly called on this work to be performed by DHHS employees, as it is done in the other ninety one counties. State employees are directly accountable to the taxpayers and have a vested interest in improving the lives of their neighbors in order to create strong communities. Private contractors have no such interest.
NAPE will continue to advocate for this work to be performed by qualified state employees. You can read the letter we sent to the Special Investigative Committee and the Health & Human Services Committee by clicking here.