Last week, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) published the first part of their audit of the Wisconsin Shares child-care subsidy program. Another report was published on child-care subsidy fraud in Milwaukee County alone. Overall, the LFB estimated that between $16.7 and $18.5 million of improper payments were sent out in 2008. They recommended that the Department of Children and Families (DCF) should improve eligibility verification procedures for families applying for Shares and better ensure that providers receiving Shares remain eligible and comply with child care laws and policies. Read DCF’s response to the audit’s findings here.
Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA) joins the many legislators, organizations, and taxpayers who are outraged by the fraud found in the Wisconsin Shares child-care subsidy program. However, we are concerned that recent stories featuring child care providers who are “scamming the system” have placed the entire child care field in a negative spotlight. We know that fraud is costing the state millions of taxpayer dollars, but we also know that 95% of child-care subsidies are going to providers who are following the rules. There is no one more committed to efforts to eliminate fraud than the thousands of high-quality providers around the state who serve children in the Wisconsin Shares program.
We are confident that the potential savings from fraud reduction can be used to improve the quality of early education in Wisconsin by creating a quality rating and improvement system that offers incentives to high-quality providers and resources to those who wish to improve.