Inadequate documentation, payments potentially made to ineligible people, and missing documents - those are just some of the problems discovered by the Missouri State Auditor's office regarding child care payments in Missouri.
In 2010 the federal government spent 151 million dollars to provide child care for Missouri children. In Missouri those payments were made to 9 thousand different providers on behalf of 81 thousand children.
The Missouri State Auditor randomly pulled 60 case files and found some big problems with the way the program is administered. According to the auditor the DSS-Family Support Division lacked adequate controls to ensure that payments were proper and benefiting only eligible clients. Of the cases reviewed 50 percent lacked adequate documentation or were not in compliance with DSS policies. In six of those cases the files were missing completely.
According to a Missouri Department of Social Services employee who wanted to remain anonymous, "I would say 50 percent at least of these child care cases need to be really looked at and really investigated." The employee told News 4 fraud is rampant, and it's hard for investigators to keep up with new cases.
The unnamed employee also said child care payments made to parents attending college has lead to fraud. She says the department doesn't require a paid receipt, and in many cases parents only bring a class schedule to prove they are attending class. The Missouri Department of Social Services says verification of college courses can be one of the following:
1.) Fee Receipt for courses enrolled
2,) Official Letter of enrollment from school.
3.) Official Class Schedule from school that confirms payment.
4.) Student Income Verification Form (IM-108)
The Department of Social Services also said through an email they are "always looking for ways to improve and enhance the way we serve the people of Missouri." According to the department they are currently working to improve documentation and have recently developed a new case review system.
DSS also makes it clear they take fraud seriously, and if you suspect fraud you can email the unit at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-770-8055.