Most parents share a common need:  child care.  But while the need for the service may be the same, parents’ ability to pay for it may differ dramatically.  In fact, some parents are caught in a bind – they need to work, but they can’t afford child care, unless they have help.  That’s where government programs often enter the picture.  And, as we’ve seen with “Fraud of the Day,” if there is a government program involved, there also is the potential for fraud.

Today’s fraud from the Post-Tribune focuses on allegations of child care fraud by an Indiana daycare owner.  In 2005, the daycare owner reportedly began participating in the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration’s (FSSA) Child Care and Development Fund, a program that “provides child care to help low-income families.”  (So far, so good.)  Here’s how the benefit works:  “The program gives cards to the families they are supposed to swipe each time they take their child to a day care center.  The card keeps track of how many children with the program go to the day care and how often, then reimburses the day care provider.”

An indictment alleges that from 2007 to August 2011, she led a scheme to defraud the program of up to $120,000.  (Now, we have a problem.)  “Mothers would fill out an application for the program using false information about how much they worked.”  (That would take parent-teacher relationships to a whole new level.)  Once in the system, the mothers would then allegedly provide their cards to the defendant and she “could then swipe the cards for children she never actually watched.”  The defendant “pleaded not guilty” to the charge.

It is critical to keep in mind that the defendant, as in all cases, is innocent until proven guilty.  That said, agencies can learn from the allegations of fraud detailed in the article and the indictment.  So, here’s the question of the day:  what type of controls and oversight are in place in child care programs in your state to prevent fraud?

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