Wisconsin Department of Children and Families is beefing up efforts to catch those who rip-off state taxpayers.
This week Secretary Reggie Bicha announced the hiring of 31 investigators who’ll work starting November first to expand the effort to reduce fraud in the Wisconsin Shares child care program. If you’re worried about another expense, don’t. Bicha says bringing on the additional staff will more than pay for itself. Those efforts will save $115-million in the current two-year budget period which ends next June.
Fraudsters have bilked the program out of millions of taxpayer dollars. The stealing was first discovered by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel almost two years ago. Providers were illegally getting around $20-million a year from Wisconsin Shares, according to a state audit. A fraud detection hotline allows folks in the community to call in to report abuse. Bicha says the new investigators will, among other things, follow up on those tips. They’ll get attendance records from child care providers, do inspections to see if there are actually kids at the centers.”
The hotline (1-877-302-3728 or 1-877-302-FRAUD) has been in place about a year and Bicha says it’s very popular. Bicha says over the past two years, his agency has launched sweeping reforms of the child care subsidy program resulting in 201 suspended providers and 13 criminal charges.