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Paper Finds Scams In Child-Care Program

Some actual honest to goodness investigative reporting from Milwaukee’s Journal-Sentinel:

Torneshia Simmons sits with three of her children in her Racine home on Dec. 18. Simmons first became an approved provider and received Wisconsin Shares money in 2002. Her sister Shanta McKinney first received child-care subsidies in 2003.

Officials vow action on loosely regulated child-care payments

By Raquel Rutledge of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: Jan. 27, 2009

Lawmakers, county officials and state regulators agreed on Monday: The state’s taxpayer-funded child-care assistance program needs serious fixing.

Responding to a four-month Journal Sentinel investigation that uncovered fraud, deceit and loopholes within the $340 million program, officials who oversee the system vowed to take action, while pointing fingers at one another…

The Journal Sentinel’s investigation – which focused on the five counties with the most subsidy cases – found that county workers don’t adequately verify parents’ employment and sometimes approve child-funding based on bogus jobs. That enables parents and providers to easily con the system.

Regulators, meanwhile, seldom revoke a provider’s license, and no parents have been charged criminally with fraud.

Loose rules allow siblings to stay home and take care of each other’s children, netting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars. Other rules have allowed parents to call just about anything work. Payments were provided after moms claimed to have ironed a man’s shirts or sold their own amateur artwork

The program, which now provides taxpayer-supported childcare for about 34,000 families, last underwent a full audit in 2001.

County officials in Racine and Milwaukee criticized the state for not adequately funding fraud investigations or providing clear guidelines on how to run the program.

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker said it boils down to bodies: There just aren’t enough of them to police the system…

Racine County Executive William McReynolds said county workers are reviewing several cases detailed in the Journal Sentinel’s investigation, including a mom who claimed to work 236 out of 238 days to earn taxpayer-funded child care. The woman reportedly worked on the day she gave birth to her seventh child – and every day for a full week after the birth, records show.

McReynolds wouldn’t elaborate on the internal investigations but said the county hadn’t determined whether anyone committed fraud. He added that his caseworkers "have an explanation for each one of these cases." …

Granted, on some level $340 million seems like small potatoes. But something similar is probably going on in most of the states in the union.

Heck, even Mr. Obama’s ‘spiritual mentor,’ the Reverend Wright and Trinity Church is in on the child-care boondoggle.

And keep this emblematic report in mind when you read about the billions (even trillions) of dollars being spent on old and new government programs. Even those “for the children.”

And try to fathom the amount of corruption and waste.

  Update!

The Journal-Sentinel’s original article(s) on the scams are even more or a revelation.

Sisters get $540,000 from state mostly for watching each other’s kids, and it’s perfectly legal

By Raquel Rutledge of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: Jan. 25, 2009

The two-story house on 17th St. looks typical of the working-class homes on Racine’s west side. Three bedrooms, one bath. Assessed by the city at $122,000.

Yet inside, a young woman has tapped into a home-based money-making operation that netted her and her three sisters more than half a million in taxpayer dollars since 2006.

And they did it with the blessing of the state.

All four had been in-home child-care providers. Collectively they have 17 children. For years, the government has paid them to stay home and care for each other’s children…

• Sisters or other relatives can stay home, swap kids and receive taxpayer dollars. The four Racine sisters took in as much as $540,000 in taxpayer dollars in less than three years, mostly to watch each other’s kids.

• Rules allow parents to be employed by child-care providers and enroll their children at the same place. At some centers, children of employees make up the majority of kids in day care. In one Milwaukee location, an employer and parents are accused of teaming up to bilk the system out of more than $360,000…

• The government pays for child care while parents sleep. Counties have no way to monitor whether parents are actually sleeping while their kids are in day care…

Go to the JS link to read more, if you can stand it.

(Thanks to BillK for the heads up and Curvyred for the update.)

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

23 Responses to “Paper Finds Scams In Child-Care Program”

  1. BillK says:

    The fun in Wisconsin continues.

    From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

    Officials vow action on loosely regulated child-care payments

    By Raquel Rutledge

    Lawmakers, county officials and state regulators agreed on Monday: The state’s taxpayer-funded child-care assistance program needs serious fixing.

    Responding to a four-month Journal Sentinel investigation that uncovered fraud, deceit and loopholes within the $340 million program, officials who oversee the system vowed to take action, while pointing fingers at one another …

    http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/watchdogreports/38436454.html

    Mere peanuts compared to the fraud that will be rampant under SCHIP…

    • JohnMG says:

      And to think Wisconsin shares a border with that bastion of notoriously honest elections, Minnesota.

      Sven, do ya t’ink somtin’s rotten in ar’ guberment?
      Ja, ta be shur, Ole. Der’s enuf crooks ta make me yumpin’ mad!

  2. proreason says:

    This is what the Depression Stimulus package is all about.

    There may be some criminals who aren’t Democrats, but there aren’t any Democrats who aren’t criminals.

  3. curvyred says:

    You missed the orginial article that finally spurred a response from the Democrats:

    http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/watchdogreports/38309864.html

    Some highlights:

    child -care center signed up moms to take part in the program – not actually watch the kids just signed up (criminal charges filed – after millions went to day care center)

    worksites not verified – and some women claimed to “iron shirts or deydrate fruit” were approved for funding.

    • Sisters or other relatives can stay home, swap kids and receive taxpayer dollars. The four Racine sisters took in as much as $540,000 in taxpayer dollars in less than three years, mostly to watch each other’s kids.

    • Rules allow parents to be employed by child-care providers and enroll their children at the same place. At some centers, children of employees make up the majority of kids in day care. In one Milwaukee location, an employer and parents are accused of teaming up to bilk the system out of more than $360,000.

    • Child-care subsidy recipients have been allowed to work for almost any type of business. Payments were made when moms claimed to work ironing a man’s shirts, drying fruit and selling artwork they made during art class.

    THIS WAS SYSTEMIC – NOT ISOLATED.

    • BillK says:

      I love this bit from the article mentioned above:

      We’re not being good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said state Rep. Robin Vos (R-Racine) who introduced legislation in 2007 to try to crack down on child-care related fraud. “We have a system where there’s a whole lot of finger-pointing going on and in between, a whole lot of fraud happens.” …

      Gee, you think?

    • proreason says:

      All government programs are systematically fraudelent. I’ve seen some estimates that 30% of the costs of Medicaire are due to fraud. It’s probably a low estimate.

      And why shouldn’t it be so?
      – Government administrators can’t be fired
      – They have no incentive to seek out fraud since they will never be rewarded for it (in fact, they are more likely to be punished for it than rewarded)
      – Since every government workforce must “reflect society”, the workers, by definition, must be as stupid as Obamy voters
      – There are no free market checks and balance. The government never goes out of business.
      – Beaurocrats succeed by increasing budgets and building little empires. Fraud is just another way to do it.
      – Beaurocrats can’t get rich on their salaries, so there are inevitably some who choose to take an “alternate” road to riches
      – The only oversight is government regulators who have the same kinds of incentives, and the Barney Fife’s of the world who are either bent on punishing humanity for not honoring their depravities, or bent on joining the non-tax-paying American Aristocracy.

      Government programs are a playground for con men. And of course, the people who create them are con-men themselves.

      (I exclude the military, fire fighters and EMTs from the above, and some police, teachers and national security personnel. For the infinitesmal fraction of the remainder who are actually honorable people, you are excluded, but I suggest you get into another line of business ASAP, because you will inevitably fall into the above-listed behaviours)

  4. NotStuckOnStupid says:

    Has anybody seen this on Drudge?

    http://www.drudgereport.com/flashsb.htm

    335 million for STD prevention is in this bill!

  5. Man, am I stupid!

    My mom has watched my son for nearly 2 years now. We should have gotten in on this scam and made some money. You know, she collects childcare payments, splits it with me 50/50 and we’re both better off.

    Oh, wait…we didn’t because it’s WRONG and IMMORAL and just plain greedy!

    Why is it law-abiding taxpayers always end up getting punished for their good behavior?

  6. Gila Monster says:

    McReynolds wouldn’t elaborate on the internal investigations but said the county hadn’t determined whether anyone committed fraud. He added that his caseworkers “have an explanation for each one of these cases.”

    Indeed Mr. McFraudnold, I’m sure they do, being the diligent state workers they are and such. No fraud here, just move along now.
    Is this guy a certifiable moron or what?

    I would like to see WI state statistics on how many children this program is supposedly helping or more importantly, the actual spending per child versus overall program cost. I dare say the majority of us here would fall out of our chairs in amazement, or anger, given those numbers.

  7. Colonel1961 says:

    4 people with 17 kids. Huh. Glad I’m paying for mine and theirs. Reason number 2,399,402 that socialism is a failure.

  8. polemos says:

    I was a single parent for 4 years. I don’t wish that life on my worst enemy it was a rough patch in my development as a man and father. I used hundreds of hours of my vacation to stay with my 2 boys when no other option was available. I was on bended knee repeatedly in my manager’s office explaining the childcare issues I was having. To his credit he was sympathic to my plight (being a garbage truck driver single parent oh and MALE helped).

    That said I never considered it ANY other persons responsibility to care, feed, clothe and watch my boys other than myself. Feeding at the public teat was never an option. I guess it was pride on my part.

    • 1sttofight says:

      That is not pride, That is just being a Dad. That is what we do.

    • Colonel1961 says:

      Fine work. Glad to see some great people out there…

    • Liberals Demise says:

      I am a single parent of 3 (was 6) teens and the ONLY thing I ever got or asked for was unemployment. Yes….we struggled but it made us closer and stronger as a family. Why do I get the feeling that a ACORN type thing is behind all of this? Call me a racist if need be but the facts will bear me out!!

      OH…..I’m sorry………damn the facts!

  9. Media_man says:

    Jeff Allen (the unemployed lathe operator on the Comet while Dagny Taggert is rushing out to Utah):

    “What was it we were supposed to want to work for? For the love of our brothers? What brothers? For the bums, the loafers, the moochers we saw all around us? And whether they were cheating or plain incompetent, whether they were unwilling or unable-what difference did that make to us?”

    “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand (Part II, Chapter 10)

  10. clifcrds says:

    Three thoughts on this scam . . .

    1 I respect the Sentinal Journal, they were the ones to break the “Urban Psychosis” defense that a black teenager from Milwaukee and her bleeding heart lawyer tried to use when the teenager claimed she felt that it was OK to kill a white teenage girl over her leather coat because society was always diss’n her and because she had a rough life.

    2 How much waste and corruption would be stopped if all big city newspapers did investigative reporting?

    3 Why does a city newspaper have to police the government anyway?

    • UndercoverInLA says:

      Once upon a time, newspapers large and small considered it one of their prime directives to expose govt. Fraud and waste…

  11. BK says:

    I have a friend as social services in KC and she said that this was the number one fraud. Sadly this case is not an exception. They do not have enough investigators to look into fraud either.

    • curvyred says:

      I think due diligence should be applied BEFORE THEY ARE APPROVED, for example the social worker should verify the place of employement PRIOR to approval, problem resolved, and I think at the end of each calender year the recepients of the program should have to turn in w-2’s and they would have to be matched (very easy to calculate the total numbers of hours worked) and if they don’t match then the person is cut off from the program and turned over for fraud investigation.

      Look at this case and see if that would have made a different outcome in the end:

      “But when asked for details about her work, the answers got fuzzy.

      The Journal Sentinel could find no record of a clothing store called Family Owned. The Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce and the state Department of Financial Institutions couldn’t either. Simmons didn’t list an address or phone number on documents filed with Racine County. Nor did the documents contain a federal tax identification number – all facts that should have raised the suspicion of Racine county workers.

      Yet workers approved funding for Simmons’ kids to be in her sisters’ care 75 hours per week, costing taxpayers a weekly total of $1,283.”


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