Sunday, January 25, 2009

JS Child Care Investigation Hits Grand Slam

The JSOnline reports that State of Wisconsin taxpayers are getting ripped off. AND the Federal taxpayers are in the same boat.

Nice work!

On paper Angela Hale is a child-care provider.

She reported taking care of the same five kids seven days a week while their mom supposedly worked at a lawn-care service, even in the winter months.

The government paid Hale more than $30,000 last year for her child-care business.
It appears the government got duped. Hale didn't care for the kids at times she said she did, nor did the mom legitimately work, the Journal Sentinel found

There's a long story. As usual, the good stuff is near the end.

While state and county regulators have authority to revoke licenses and certifications, they seldom do. From 2003 to 2007, state regulators revoked fewer than 10 licenses for suspected fraud. Counties, meanwhile, shut down two providers based on fraudulent billing to Wisconsin Shares.

...Some officials familiar with Wisconsin Shares say there's not much incentive to police the program. Much of the funding comes from federal block grants.

The federal government spends more than $5 billion on child-care development grants every year. That doesn't include other assistance that goes toward child-care subsidies.

An annual audit is mandated by the federal government but requires only a listing of how money was spent. It does not examine program integrity.

The state hasn't completed a full-program audit since 2001. And as for Milwaukee County's oversight: "We typically wouldn't go in and audit what's essentially a state program," said Doug Jenkins of the county Department of Audit.

In 2007, state representative Robin Vos (R-Racine) co-sponsored legislation giving counties incentives to crack down on fraud. Neither the state nor officials with Milwaukee County could say how the incentive program has worked.

"I think they're being incredibly generous when they say someone filled out a time sheet for 20 kids and they were never there," Vos said. "Is that error or is that fraud?"

We can all concede that people make mistakes. But I have a hard time accepting $200++K in "mistakes," as the JS reports for a few instances.

Of course, there is the "negative incentive," too: if the program shrinks, there's less need for County and State workers, right?

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