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St. Francis Ministries

A state contractor that places Omaha-area children in foster homes and checks on their welfare has been temporarily barred from taking any new cases because it’s struggling to fulfill the requirements of its contract. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services set the 60-day restriction, starting Friday, on Kansas-based St. Francis Ministries. State officials also granted the provider a probationary license as a child placing agency. The department says state child welfare workers will handle new cases in Douglas and Sarpy counties during the probationary period.

Omaha World Herald

The coronavirus has devastated many types of businesses, and a new study in Nebraska shows just how hard the pandemic has hit child care centers. The Scottsbluff Star-Herald cited a new legislative study that found 231 licensed child care providers in the state have closed permanently since the pandemic began. Hundreds more shuttered temporarily, and more than half of operators say they will close permanently without further government financial assistance. Nebraska ranks highest in the nation for households with children where both parents work. 

Step Up to Quality, Nebraska’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for child care and early childhood education providers, has reached a significant milestone: more than 500 programs across the state are participating, and have been rated.

Step Up to Quality Director, Lauri Cimino, spent some time with Mike Hogan of “Live & Local” recently to discuss the milestone and explain the multi-step program which helps improve the quality of childcare across the entire state.

If parents want information about what QRIS means for their children or if a childcare provider wants to know how to participate in the program, go to the website https://stepuptoquality.ne.gov

Saint Francis Ministries

A whistleblower says a cash-strapped Kansas foster care contractor spent $80,000 on tickets to see the Chicago Cubs, a club owned by the Nebraska governor's family, as it sought new business in that state. St. Francis Ministries bought the tickets in 2019. That same year, the agency was awarded a $197 million, five-year contract from the state of Nebraska to oversee the care of abused and neglected children in the Omaha area. The Omaha World-Herald reports that Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services says St. Francis won the contract because it presented the best bid. 

Nebraska is continuing to see an increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases.  State officials had reported 12-thousand-619 cases and 153 deaths as of yesterday.  There have been more than 33-hundred COVID-19 cases reported in Douglas County, while Dakota County has seen more than 16-hundred cases and Hall County has confirmed more than 14-hundred cases. A ninth COVID-19 related death is reported at the Life Care Center of Elkhorn.

Child Care Provider At Offut Tests Positive For Covid-19

Apr 30, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting Offutt Air Force Base. The base's 55th Wing has closed the Child Development Center near the Rising View housing area. The center was closed after a child care provider tested positive for the coronavirus.  Officials say the child care provider had been in contact with other employees and children at the facility.

Nebraska officials are growing concerned that the closure of schools, widespread job losses and social isolation could be driving an uptick in child abuse cases. Stephanie Beasley, the director of Nebraska’s Child and Family Services Division, says the new coronavirus pandemic is putting a major strain on the families her agency serves. Beasley says the pandemic is making it more difficult for children to get social services and for parents to get substance abuse treatment and counseling.

A new report says families who want access to high-quality child care in Nebraska may be out of luck depending on where they live or how much they make. The report by the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission says access to child care varies widely, with 11 of the state's 93 counties having no licensed child care facilities. The report also finds a high turnover rate among early childhood care providers, driven in part by low pay. The report says the median wage for early childhood professionals teaching in community-based child care centers was less than $19,000 in 2016.