Legislative Report Says Privatization Of Child Welfare Services A Failure


      A legislative report released Wednesday says Nebraska’s experiment in privatizing child welfare services, begun in 2009, has been a failure because of the lack of an appropriate cost analysis and contract structure that put all the risk on the contractors.

      The report came out a day after the state announced it was ending the contract for a financially-plagued Kansas non-profit to handle the care of neglected and abused children in the Omaha area.

      The privatization effort began with hiring private organizations in different regions of the state to coordinate and manage services, but Saint Francis Ministries was the last still operating. 

      All other areas reverted back to state management, as will happen in the Omaha area on January 3rd.

      The problems that plagued Saint Francis – including high worker turnover, inadequate funding and a lack of direction – were similar to those suffered by the other private child welfare contractors

      They were made worse by the initial 5-year contract awarded in 2019, which saw Saint Francis underbid the prior contractor by 40%. 

     Things got so bad that the state approved a new $66.7-million dollar contract in January to prevent Saint Francis from running out of money, but still needed to take over all new cases in October to keep the organization afloat.