A Kansas-based private agency went into debt to pay foster parents in 2019 while it spent $80,000 on Chicago Cubs baseball tickets while managing all Omaha-area child welfare cases, according to a report.
The whistleblower report detailed in the Omaha World-Herald said that St. Francis Ministries, a Salina, Kansas, based nonprofit, was struggling to pay its weekly expenses while making spending decisions that called into question the agency’s judgment.
According to the report, the cash shortages forced St. Francis on “multiple occasions” to prioritize its spending. The agency had a bank line of credit, but failed to meet the requirements for the line of credit with the bank for that year.
The report also stated that it borrowed money from a private individual to make its payments.
Meanwhile, the whistleblower pointed out that St. Francis management spent $80,000 on Cubs tickets in 2019, including $65,000 on playoff tickets. The agency expected to get a $65,000 refund because the Cubs did not make the playoffs.
At the same time, St. Francis Ministries holds a $197 million five-year contract from the state of Nebraska to oversee the care of neglected and abused children in two of the state’s counties.
Nebraska’s Health and Human Services awarded the contract to the agency in early June 2019, and the agency began taking cases from an Omaha-based contractor in October 2019.
The St. Francis board launched an internal investigation once it learned of the whistleblower’s report. The investigation ended in November when two of the agency’s top officials stepped down — the president and CEO and the chief operating officer.