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Kansas DCF Heightens Financial Oversight of St. Francis Ministries

Lauren FitzgeraldFebruary 3, 2021

The State of Kansas is heightening its scrutiny over a Salina-based foster care provider. This extra oversight comes after St. Francis Ministries was forced to remove its top two leaders due to allegations of mismanagement that came to light at the end of 2020.

Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Laura Howard Wednesday announced additional financial oversight provisions in the agency’s grant agreement with Saint Francis Ministries (SFM).

“I remain concerned about Saint Francis Ministries prior lack of transparency regarding their financial health,” Howard said. “These new oversight provisions guarantee DCF receives information it previously requested from former SFM leadership and additional information moving forward in order to fully understand the depth of SFM’s financial difficulties and to take steps to assist in rectifying identified issues.”

This amendment is the latest action taken by DCF related to St. Francis’ financial management and viability.  In early 2020, DCF initiated an independent management review in response to concerns raised regarding the agency’s financial viability and a large data loss.  After leadership changes at St. Francis Ministries and allegations against the former executive, the management review is currently focused on ensuring that Kansas taxpayer dollars are being spent appropriately.  The management review should be completed within the next month.

The amendment was signed by both parties Feb.1 and goes into effect immediately. Provisions of the amendment include:

  • Requiring SFM to submit its FY 2109 audit to DCF upon signing of the agreement (completed)
  • Requiring SFM to submit its FY 2020 audit to DCF no later than July 1
  • Requiring SFM to submit a board approved three-year business plan by March 1.
  • Requiring SFM to defer any unspent funds as unearned revenue for grants awarded by DCF and isolate those funds in a separate liability account identified as DCF unspent funds beginning Oct. 1, 2019
  • SFM must also submit a general plan on how it plans to reinvest the surplus of funds back into Kansas child welfare programs on signing of the agreement (completed)
  • In addition, SFM must submit both an implementation plan detailing operations and financial details for reinvestment and a plan for repayment of any amount determined necessary by DCF by March 1
  • Requiring SFM to pay back any misallocation of funds associated with the Kansas grant as determined by findings from the independent audit
  • Requiring SFM to provide DCF income statements and other financial statements on a monthly basis starting with the cost report due to DCF on Jan. 25, 2021.
  • Requiring SFM to provide DCF a fiscal year to date balance sheet on a monthly basis beginning with the cost report due by March 25, 2021.
  • Requiring SFM management to participate in monthly phone calls with DCF to review progress on data recovery and other conditions set forth in the amendment
  • Requiring SFM to continue its participation in and provide all documentation requested by DCF for a designated period between July 1, 2018 and Sept. 30, 2019 and agrees to provide all requested documentation for an extended period through the end of Fiscal Year 2021, to June 30, 2021.
  • SFM agreeing that beginning Feb. 1, all future monthly payments made to SFM by DCF will be adjusted by the amount of the prior months unspent payment as reflected in the cost report and supporting documentation submitted to DCF by SFM
  • SFM agreeing that failure to meet any of requirements and associated deadlines included in the amendment may result in a penalty consisting of up to a five percent reduction of administrative payments per month under the grant.

The amendment to SFM’s grant award is in effect through Oct. 2021 with the understanding that SFM complies with the conditions laid out in the amendment.

“DCF values its partnership with Saint Francis Ministries and appreciates the work it does with children and families in Kansas,” Howard said. “I look forward to moving forward, in good faith with the new leadership, to resolve these issues.”

St. Francis Ministries is a faith-based child and family services provider headquartered in Salina, but also has affiliated sites in Kansas, Arkansas, Nebraska, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas.

Copyright © Meridian Media, 2021. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced without Meridian Media’s express consent.

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