Kansas foster care agency Saint Francis Ministries agrees to repay $9.4 million in unspent grant funds

By The Associated Press
Former CEO Robert Smith speaks in 2018 after announcing the rebranding of St. Francis Community Services to Saint Francis Ministries.

A troubled Kansas foster care management provider has reached an agreement with the state to repay $9.4 million in unspent grant funds.

The deal that the Kansas Department for Children and Families announced it had reached Tuesday with Saint Francis Ministries comes on the heels of earlier controversies.

In January, Nebraska agreed to pay millions more to Saint Francis after it significantly underbid the company that used to provide child welfare services in the Omaha area. And Kansas officials announced in December that Saint Francis employees had falsified documents to show visits with families that never took place.

DCF spokesman Mike Deines said the grant repayment agreement is unrelated to the falsified document claims. A state audit is pending.

The agency said in a news release that the repayment stems from a requirement that case management providers come up with a plan to reinvest unspent funds into their child welfare programming. The release said Saint Francis provided a preliminary plan, but it was never finalized and sent to DCF for approval.

Saint Francis Interim CEO William Clark said in a statement that the goal is "always to do what is best for children and families, while also being good stewards of the resources entrusted to us."