Questioned Child Care Funding Within Department of Family Services Tops Millions

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COLUMBIA - Missing paperwork within the Department of Family Services has child care recipients concerned, and has led to the questioning of $64 million allocated for child care.

Amy Todd gets state aid to put her three children, ages four, two and one, all in daycare. She says on either two or three separate occasions, the department has lost paperwork containing her Social Security number.

"You write your Social Security number on a piece of paper, and slide it under the window to hand it to them. That made me nervous," Todd said. "That's a lot of Social Security numbers and lot of papers, a lot of little papers, floating around everywhere."

This is not the only paperwork the department has been accused of losing. A search of public documentation uncovered a 2011 audit of the Department of Social Services, for poor management of records. The audit cited "a lack of overall quality control for the Child Care Program."

The audit claims three factors contributed to the weakened control system.

1. No supervisory review of child care eligibility determinations. While there is a system for monthly reviews of eligibility determinations for other DSS programs, that system does not include the child care program.

2. The DSS does not perform on-site contract compliance reviews of the child care providers.

3. Also, the audit says, "Overall, management of the case records is poor." For fiscal year 2011, the DSS could not locate 6 out of 60 case files requested, and several other cases did not include proof to support the client's eligibility.

The question remains, how much money was involved?

According to similar errors noted in the most recent DSS Child Care program improper payment review, $64 million was improperly authorized, due largely to missing or inadequate documentation.

Upon showing Todd the documentation, her eyebrows raised and her jaw dropped in shock.

"This is wrong," Todd said, shaking her head. "Where is that money going? Just because I'm on welfare...I mean, I pay taxes too."

When asked, the media contact from the state auditor's office turned down an interview, claiming the information was "old" and he didn't have time. He later stated that all the information we needed was inside the audit.

In addition, the media contact spokesperson for the Department of Social Services did not return several calls, but eventually answered an email, saying she was unavailable for an interview.