Jefferson City, MO (STL.News) – Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway released an audit that detailed an ongoing failure by the state to address concerns with providers of the Child Care Subsidy Program that are at a high risk of noncompliance. The report also found a continued failure by the state to properly account for federal dollars in several state programs.
The Child Care Subsidy Program helps pay child care expenses for approximately 60,000 Missouri children at 4,700 child care providers at an annual cost of approximately $150 million. For the third year in a row, the report identified concerns with the state’s procedures to ensure providers’ compliance with regulations related to billing practices, attendance records, staffing ratios and fire safety.
“The state receives this federal funding to provide assistance to thousands of parents in Missouri to help with the cost of child care,” Auditor Galloway said. “The state is then responsible for holding providers accountable for following the rules. If the state does not ensure there is follow-up and consequences for breaking those rules, then there can be no expectation that these providers will change.”
When concerns are identified, the state can recommend training or have the providers’ contract terminated. If required training is recommended and not completed, the providers’ contract can be terminated. However, the department did not have criteria or guidance for determining appropriate follow-up action. Auditors reviewed specific cases and found that in the majority of those cases, action to address noncompliance was not taken timely or efficiently.
The audit has previously highlighted other concerns with child care subsidies. For example, for the ninth year in a row, auditors questioned the department’s ability to prevent or detect improper payments to child care providers and found that some caregivers may have received inappropriate payments.
The Statewide Single Audit annually audits the state’s financial reporting and reviews the management and spending of $12 billion federal dollars. This year’s report audited 15 major federal programs and reported 15 findings related to nine programs at four state agencies.