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Youthville loses state contract but will continue to provide foster homes

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, at 5:32 p.m.

Youthville has lost a contract with the state worth $20 million, but its president and CEO says the nonprofit agency still will provide foster care homes for Kansas children.

The Department for Children and Families announced recently it had signed eight new contracts for reintegration, foster care and adoption services and for family preservation services. The new contracts start July 1.

Youthville had held the contract for Sedgwick County since the state privatized child welfare services in 1996. The state awarded the contract for this part of the state, now referred to as the Wichita Region, to St. Francis Community Services in Salina.

The state’s proposed 2014 fiscal year budget for foster care, reintegration and adoption services is $138 million, and the proposed budget for family preservation services is about $10.2 million. The state estimates that 175 more families will be served by the new contractors.

“We hope it will be seamless,” DCF spokeswoman Angela de Rocha said of the transition to new contractors. “We’ll continue to provide the same services. We believe the services will be better. We’re not reducing any services.”

The contracts are for four years with the possibility of two two-year extensions.

Youthville president and CEO Shelley Duncan said the loss of the contract will affect “150 employees that are employed for or through that contract with us. That doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be absorbed by the new contractor.”

Those employees also may have internal opportunities for different jobs at Youthville, she said.

Layoffs are a possibility, but “I can’t tell you how many,” Duncan said.

She emphasized that Youthville isn’t going anywhere.

“We’re expanding some existing program areas and moving into some new program areas,” she said. “We also have expanded into the state of Washington.

“We absolutely still will be alive and well in Wichita.”

Youthville intends to continue to offer foster homes to children in need.

“We have over 400 foster homes throughout the state of Kansas, over half of which are in Wichita,” Duncan said. “We expect to be subcontracting with the new contractor. We really want foster homes and parents to know that we will still be here. We just opened another office in Winfield and are planning to grow that service.”

Duncan said the state told Youthville that the decision to contract with St. Francis was based on cost. St. Francis had the lowest bid, Duncan said the state told her.

Bid documents were not available Tuesday, an employee of the Kansas Department of Administration said.

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com.

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