LINCOLN — Changes in Douglas and Sarpy County child welfare services will be the focus of four town hall meetings set for Tuesday, July 30, and Wednesday, Aug. 7.

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services officials will give a presentation about their plans to switch from having child welfare cases managed by the Omaha-based PromiseShip to having them handled by St. Francis Ministries, based in Salina, Kansas.

“We want to be responsive and transparent as we move into a bright new era of supporting families, protecting children and improving outcomes,” said Matt Wallen, director of the department’s Division of Children and Family Services.

HHS signed a $197 million, five-year contract with St. Francis this month to take over case management responsibilities, including family preservation, service coordination, foster care, adoption and resource family recruitment. The contract starts Jan. 1. But PromiseShip has challenged the decision in court, and the case is pending.

St. Francis representatives will be at the town hall meetings, which are open to the public and will include time for questions and answers.

The first sessions are planned for 3 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. July 30, at Omaha North High School’s Viking Center at 4410 N. 36th St. The next sessions will be from 3 to 5 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center at 2825 Y St.

Correction: This story has been updated to fix the date of the meetings on Wednesday, Aug. 7. 

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Martha Stoddard keeps legislators honest from The World-Herald's Lincoln bureau, where she covers news from the State Capitol. Follow her on Twitter @StoddardOWH. Phone: 402-473-9583.

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