LINCOLN — The agency that currently manages Omaha-area child welfare cases will amend its lawsuit challenging the state’s decision to award a new case management contract to a Kansas nonprofit.

Lancaster County District Judge Kevin McManaman said in an order Monday that he would dismiss the suit if the winning bidder, St. Francis Ministries of Salina, Kansas, was not added as a defendant in the case within 30 days.

In response, PromiseShip officials said in a statement Tuesday that they would add St. Francis to the lawsuit and would continue to pursue the case.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services signed the contract with St. Francis on July 3.

It calls for the Kansas agency to replace PromiseShip, an Omaha-based nonprofit, in overseeing the care of abused and neglected children in Douglas and Sarpy Counties. The five-year contract is for about $197 million, less than 60% of the amount bid by PromiseShip.

PromiseShip challenged the contract in court, alleging that St. Francis’ bid should have been disqualified for failing to meet the terms of the request for proposals or comply with state law. The suit named HHS, the State Department of Administrative Services and the heads of those two agencies as defendants.

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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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