Kansas tightens oversight of troubled foster care provider

The top child welfare official in Kansas said Wednesday her agency has tightened financial oversight of one of the state’s largest foster care management providers, saying she wants to fully understand the depth of its financial issues and take steps to assist in rectifying them.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families said in a news release that new provisions have been added to the grant agreement with Salina-based Saint Francis Ministries.

“I remain concerned about Saint Francis Ministries prior lack of transparency regarding their financial health,” said DCF Secretary Laura Howard, adding that the provisions guarantee that the state receives the information it had previously requested from the organization’s former leadership.

The state initiated an independent management review last year amid concerns about the organization’s financial viability and large data loss. That review should be completed by next month.

The grant amendments, which go into effect immediately, set out a litany of requirements such as reports, audits, and timetables.

“I look forward to moving forward, in good faith with the new leadership, to resolve these issues,” Howard said.

In December, the state’s child welfare agency said employees of Saint Francis Ministries falsified documents to show visits with families that never took place.