ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A state audit has found daycare centers around Missouri have fraudulently claimed more than $300,000 in federal funds but thus far, there is no hint federal officials are going after them.
State Auditor Tom Schweich, who uncovered the mess, says no federal investigators have asked him for documents to dig into fraud at daycare centers but he hopes somebody gets it right.
“The problem is that we found $300,000 in costs where children had left the program completely and yet the daycare provider was still acting for the two or three days of absence a month,” he explained. “That sounds fraudulent to me.
“I think that they are going to do something about it because there’s a lot of public concern about it and we will be looking at this again. We do a single audit every single year,” he added. The annual audit, spanning over 160 pages this year, outlines how Missouri spent $68 million in federal funds.
The Missouri Department of Social Services, which administered the federal funds in question, will not comment on whether there will be an investigation but said last week that it agreed with Schweich’s findings. Locally, half a dozen daycare centers received a total of $40,000 in questionable claims.
“Whether those people who did it should be punished depends if they understood the program, if they deliberately or fraudulently billed those amounts of money that they should not have. Then it would be a crime,” Schweich said.