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Archive for Thursday, August 17, 2000

Adoption provider vies for smooth transition

Lutheran Social Services’ canceled contract won’t harm children, officials say

August 17, 2000

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— Canceling Lutheran Social Services' contract to provide adoption services doesn't mean children in its care will be harmed as officials try to figure what to do next, a state contractor says.

"At this point, we can't say what the final outcome will be, other than the kids will be taken care of," Melissa Ness, chief operating officer for Kansas Children's Service League, said Wednesday.

KCSL, which contracted with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services to provide adoption services in the state, has exercised a 90-day termination clause in its one-year contract with LSS. The league plans to sign a new contract with a subcontractor after that time.

"Lutheran will be providing services as we look at the transition. Just because we sent the cancellation doesn't mean that kids will be sitting on the doorsteps," Ness said.

In a statement Wednesday, LSS said it "will continue to work to assure the safety of the children in its care and to overcome the obstacles to that mission."

Meanwhile, the Legislature's top two Democrats criticized Republican Gov. Bill Graves for the situation. But they offered no specific alternatives.

In response, Graves said in a statement, "Comments made today by Democrat legislators only belittle the efforts made by these and other social services providers in support of Kansas children."

Ness said the KCSL board made its decision for a variety of reasons, including Lutheran's financial problems. An audit last month of Lutheran showed it had debts of $9 million and access only to about $5 million.

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