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Monday, March 1, 2021

DCF Takes Immediate Action to Address Allegations of Document Falsification by St. Francis Ministries Employees

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids, and graduated from Valley Heights High School in May of 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications.After stops at KFRM and KCLY radio in Clay Center, he joined KNDY in 2002 as a board operator and play by play announcer. Derek is now responsible for the digital content of Dierking Communications, Inc. six radio stations.In 2005 Derek joined the staff of KCFX radio in Kansas City as a production coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, which airs on over 94 radio stations across 12 Midwest states and growing. In 2018 he became the Studio Coordinator at the Cumulus Kansas City broadcast center for Kansas City Chiefs Football.

Topeka – Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Laura Howard took swift action to address allegations of document falsification by employees of St. Francis Ministries (SFM), one of the agency’s foster care case management providers.

“In mid-November, my agency was made aware of instances where an SFM employee falsified documents to show they had visited with families when they had in fact not made those visits,” Howard said. “Given the seriousness of these allegations I instructed my deputy secretary to immediately begin an investigation.”

After engaging with SFM, DCF learned that SFM was already aware of the allegations and had begun an inquiry at its Salina office. SFM supervisors immediately began contacting foster care providers to confirm visits were being conducted. During the investigation, SFM discovered that one employee did not visit 28 children who were living with 11 different foster care providers. This worker had documented 165 contacts with those children between February and October of 2020 that did not occur. The worker was fired by SFM.

SFM also discovered during its inquiry another case of an employee failing to meet with foster care providers. The employee was fired from the agency in August.

SFM continues its work in Saline County to review each case file to reconcile information from providers with dates of contacts by SFM employees in the case file documentation. The inquiry has so far not turned up any additional instances of document falsification. The case review has shown:

  • 69% of placements interviewed expressed seeing a member of the Saint Francis case team on a monthly basis.
  • 78% of fathers interviewed expressed seeing a member of the Saint Francis case team on a monthly basis.
  • 86% of mothers interviewed expressed seeing a member of the Saint Francis case team on a monthly basis.

DCF has taken additional steps including:

  • Requesting information related to methods, sampling figures and findings of St. Francis’ case reviews.
  • DCF’s Audit Services Child Welfare Compliance Team and Quality Assurance Team will serve as peer reviewers assisting in contacting providers as part of the case review process.

Financial Mismanagement Investigation

Additionally, Secretary Howard has communicated with St. Francis Ministries interim president/CEO William Clark and Board President Dr. Greg Meissen insisting the agency provide full access to all SFM internal reports and investigation findings pertaining to the expenditure of any monies received by SFM pursuant to its grant with DCF and SFM’s financial stability.

“My agency will not rest until we are assured that Kansas taxpayer funds have been properly spent by SFM,” Howard said. “We know SFM to be good partners and we look forward to full transparency as it relates to both their fiscal affairs and documentation issues.”

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