DHHS Selects Child Welfare Contractor for Eastern Service Area

News Release
For Immediate Release: 6/4/2019

Lee Rettig, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-8287; lee.rettig@nebraska.gov


Lincoln – After executing an extensive review process, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced today it has selected a proposal from Saint Francis Ministries, which currently provides child welfare services to youth and families in parts of Nebraska, to provide ongoing case management services in the Eastern Service Area (ESA), comprised of Douglas and Sarpy counties. The announcement comes as an intent to award was filed, Monday, resulting from a request for proposal (RFP) process that began in January.

The five-year proposal is for approximately $196 million and includes the option of two additional years.

“We have posted our 'intent to award' Saint Francis a contract to provide ongoing case management services focused on supporting youth and families in the Omaha area," said DHHS CEO Dannette R. Smith. “Based on their proposal, we are confident Saint Francis will deliver high quality case management and child protection services that strengthen families and build protective factors for Douglas and Sarpy County children."

The Eastern Service Area has nearly 40 percent of the child welfare cases in Nebraska and is the only area in the state where child welfare services are provided by a private contractor.

Under the contract, DHHS will continue to provide initial assessment and community support services in the area.

“Our request for proposal included provisions to encourage greater collaboration, communication and innovation with our ESA private partner," said Matt Wallen, CFS Director. “We developed a strong RFP that produced a well-qualified subaward that has a history of providing quality services for children and families."

Saint Francis Ministries is a child and family services non-profit agency currently serving over 31,000 people with welfare services, including family preservation, adoption, foster care, residential programs, independent living and behavioral health, in Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, El Salvador and Honduras.

Saint Francis Ministries' CEO, Reverend Robert N. Smith, said at a press conference announcing the intent to award today that his team is very excited to be able expand the work they do in Nebraska.

“Our mission is to provide healing and hope to children and families," said Reverend Smith. “We are excited about the possibilities encompassed by the Families First Prevention Services Act and look forward to collaborating with Nebraska's leaders, businesses and organizations on the best way to use child welfare knowledge and dollars at the beginning of a child's contact with the system, where we can change their future."

Saint Francis currently provides kinship/foster care homes, adoption homes, family support programs, Intensive Family Preservation, Intensive Family Reunification and Family–Centered treatment services to youth in central and western Nebraska.

DHHS contracted with a New Hampshire-based business and government consulting agency specializing in child welfare management assessment to analyze the effectiveness of current ESA services and operations and to assist in the development of the RFP.

“The Stephen Group helped us identify successes and areas for improvement so we could shape our RFP to better serve children and families in the Omaha area," said Wallen. “We also considered the option of bringing ESA child welfare services back to DHHS.  The Stephen Group recommended continuing with privatized services.  Both Saint Francis Ministries and PromiseShip offered quality proposals."

PromiseShip, formerly known as Nebraska Family Collaborative, was the only other organization to submit a proposal in response to the RFP.  The Omaha-based PromiseShip has been the child welfare case management contractor in the ESA since 2009 and is currently under contract to provide services through December 31 of this year.

“We look forward to working with both Saint Francis and PromiseShip to enact a smooth and seamless transition," said Wallen. “Maintaining support and protection for the Douglas and Sarpy county children and families who rely on each of us will need to remain the top priority during this time of change. Continuity of services is our number one priority.""

The RFP process was conducted by the Nebraska Department of Administrative Services and both applicants were given an opportunity to provide supplemental presentations.  The RFP process assigns points to submitted proposals based on fidelity to the requested information.  The proposals were awarded scaled points based on their corporate overview, technical approach, financial requirements, cost and an oral interview.  Both proposals conformed to the requirements established in the RFP and both were deemed appropriate in scope to fulfill the needed services identified in the contract.

Saint Francis Ministries' proposal scored higher than the PromiseShip proposal.

A subaward finalization period runs through June 30th. The contract for services will be officially awarded July 1.

Once a contract agreement is finalized and a readiness review is completed, Saint Francis Ministries will begin transitioning services.  The transition is scheduled to be completed by January 1, 2020.

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