Co-Chairs Announce Hearing and Continued Scrutiny of Wisconsin Shares

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Dec 17, 2009 No Comments ›› admin
December 17, 2009          

MADISON – The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) released the second phase of a two-part audit of Wisconsin Shares, the state’s child care subsidy program for the children of low-income working parents.  The Joint Legislative Audit Committee, Co-Chaired by Representative Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) and Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma), instructed the Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct this audit in February and are calling for a follow up report from the Department of Children and Families in June.

“As a result of the audit, leaders at all levels of government are aware of the flaws in the program as it had been operating.  We have begun taking meaningful steps toward rooting out fraudulent providers, restoring public confidence, and ensuring that our children receive the top-notch care that they deserve in a safe environment,” Senator Vinehout said.  “But fixing this program will take continued scrutiny and cooperation from all stakeholders.”

 The Legislative Audit Bureau focused their evaluation on compliance with child care regulations.  Audit results showed evidence of poor record keeping, investigators with higher than recommended case loads, problems with timely investigations, and unsuccessful attempts to visit child care facilitates.  The audit identified problems with rating the severity of cases that make it difficult to target scarce resources to higher risk facilities. 

“This was the first audit the committee authorized under the leadership of Senator Vinehout and I, and the report has proven critical to understanding what has not worked within the Wisconsin Shares program,” Representative Barca said.  “I remain concerned and disappointed with the audit’s serious findings including the failure to conduct proper background checks to ensure day cares are safe from individuals with a criminal background or others who could be a threat to children.”

“The audit reveals the complexity of the child care regulatory framework and the need for good communication between state and county staff, effective management, and precise information about regulatory activities” Senator Vinehout explained.  “Unfortunately, as evidenced by this report, these have not always been adequate.  Further management recommendations are included in the report to remedy these breakdowns.” 

The co-chairs also announced today the Audit Committee will hold a public hearing on this report early next year.  Following this hearing the conversation surrounding the program will continue after the committee receives the report from the Department of Children and Families, which is due June 30, 2010. 

“The LAB report describes the strong legislative action taken during the budget and as stand alone legislation to provide the state and counties with all the tools we could identify to improve the detection and investigation of potential fraud,” Representative Barca said.  “This program is about making sure hard-working Wisconsin parents can stay off of welfare and go to work every day knowing their children are in a safe and caring environment.  Our intention, as Co-Chairs of the Legislative Audit Committee is to hold everyone’s feet to the fire as we continue to eliminate all fraud and abuse.” 

Copies of LAB’s report may be obtained from its Web site at www.legis.wisconsin.gov/lab or by calling (608) 266-2818.


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