The Kansas Department for Children and Families and Saint Francis Ministries have agreed to amend their case management provider agreement.
According to the DCF, ST. Francis will repay to the state more than $9 million in unspent grant funds.
“I want to thank Saint Francis leadership for working closely with my DCF team to guarantee that unspent taxpayer money is returned to the state,” DCF Secretary Laura Howard said. “I am confident that we have come to an equitable agreement that allows Saint Francis to continue its important work with children and families while also ensuring DCF continues to be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars.”
“We appreciate Sec. Howard and the DCF team, and their willingness to partner with Saint Francis as we determined the best way to reinvest the unspent funds or repay any unspent dollars to the state of Kansas,” said SFM Interim CEO William Clark. “Our goal is always to do what is best for children and families, while also being good stewards of the resources entrusted to us.”
Under the current grant agreement, case management providers are required to provide DCF a plan to reinvest unspent funds into their child welfare programming. During the time period between November 2019 and January 2021 SFM provided a preliminary plan but it was never finalized and sent to DCF for approval. After several conversations between the two agencies, Saint Francis decided to return the money.
The grant amendment calls for SFM to repay approximately $9.4 million. SFM currently manages three foster care catchment areas including all of western and north central Kansas and Sedgwick County. The repayment for each catchment area is as follows:
- Area 1 – Western Kansas – $3,277,446
- Area 2 – North central Kansas – $3,880,122
- Area 7 – Sedgwick Co. – $2,271,960
The full payment is due to DCF by April 1. The returned funds will be used to cover expected foster care costs in Fiscal Years 2021 and 2022. Remaining funds from the $9.4 million will be returned to the state treasury during the consensus caseload estimating process.
Any additional repayment amount determined to be due to DCF or Saint Francis, based on updated cost reports and additional analysis for the months under review, will be due by June 15. Once Saint Francis and DCF agree on a final amount to be repaid and payment has been received, cleared and corroborated by DCF, DCF will release Saint Francis from any grant obligation or requirement to repay or reinvest these unspent funds incurred during the time period covered in the amendment.
Earlier this year, DCF and SFM agreed to another grant amendment that addresses the unspent fund issue moving forward. Beginning Feb. 1, monthly payments made to Saint Francis by DCF were adjusted by the amount of the prior month’s unspent payment as reflected in the cost report and other documentation submitted to DCF. The amendment will prevent SFM from accumulating unspent grant funds.
Additionally, SFM will add positions later this year to support initiatives like Team Decision Making using existing grant dollars not surplus funds.
Team Decision Making is a foster care practice approach launching this summer bringing family voice into best decisions for safety and placement stability. The approach strengthens placement stability by reducing moves and short-term placements for children in care and supporting youth to prevent episodes of running from a placement while in foster care.
In the past year, these efforts to work alongside families and youth have produced positive results. The rate of moves for children entering in care has reduced from 6.8 to 5.0, which is closer to the desired national rate of 4.4.
“It is imperative that DCF and its partners are all working in unison in order to improve outcomes for children and families in Kansas,” Howard said. “I am confident these grant amendments are positive steps in our efforts to continuously improve the Kansas foster care system.”