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Town hall scheduled Wednesday concerning transition from Saint Francis Ministries

By: - September 6, 2022 5:47 pm

Saint Francis Ministries, a Salina, Kansas-based foster care provider, accused its former leaders of misspending millions of dollars and is suing to recover the money. But in response to reporting by Kansas Reflector, the organization says “there are no unaccounted dollars.” (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

LINCOLN — State officials on Wednesday will provide an update, and take feedback, on the transition of child welfare case management in eastern Nebraska from Saint Francis Ministries to the state.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services cancelled its contract with Saint Francis in December of 2021 after the Kansas-based social services provider failed to live up to its contract requirements, even after an extra infusion of $110 million to keep the operation afloat.

Saint Francis won the contract to oversee about 2,500 state wards in the Omaha area and eastern Nebraska despite severely underbidding the contract. The debacle has the Nebraska Legislature studying how to improve the state’s system of awarding contracts.

DHHS has scheduled a town hall meeting in Omaha at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at the Goodwill/Apex Training Center, at 4805 N 72nd St., to provide an update on the transition, take feedback and answer questions.

State officials have deemed the transition a success. Among those attending the town hall will be Dannette Smith, the CEO of DHHS.

The event can be viewed remotely on the DHHS Facebook page.

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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. He started his career reporting for the Omaha Sun and later, editing the Papillion Times group in suburban Omaha. He joined the Lincoln Journal-Star as a sports enterprise reporter, and then a roving reporter covering southeast Nebraska. In 1990, he was hired by the Omaha World-Herald as a legislative reporter. Later, for 15 years, he roamed the state covering all kinds of news and feature stories. In the past decade, he served as chief of the Lincoln Bureau and enterprise reporter. Paul has won awards for reporting from Great Plains Journalism, the Associated Press, Nebraska Newspaper Association and Suburban Newspapers of America. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.

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