Nebraska Department of Human Services officials have been given 30 days to repay nearly $22 million to the federal government because of the state's troubled effort to privatize child welfare services.

On Wednesday Kerry Winterer, CEO of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the notification from the federal government regarding concerns with the way Nebraska documented use of federal foster care funds several years ago was expected. 

He says DHHS resolved those issues beginning in 2012 and a disallowance should not occur again.  “Children and Family Services Director Thomas Pristow, who was not involved in the decision to privatize child welfare services, has been working closely with federal officials for the past 12 to 18 months to fix this issue,” Winterer says. 

“That hard work has been recognized by federal officials and their confidence in us has, in part, resulted in the recent IV-E waiver that Nebraska was awarded.” 

Winterer says “We will decide in the near future our course of action and we believe we can provide information that will change the amount owed and we believe it will be considerably less.”