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Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

Audit finds matching addresses of sex offenders and child care providers

Audits


As a member of the Joint legislative Audit Committee, I received a letter from State Auditor Janice Mueller about the ongoing review of Wisconsin Shares, the state child care program. Here is an excerpt from the letter:

“Our evaluation of the overall effectiveness of child care regulation is ongoing, but we are writing at this time to disclose a serious problem we discovered during the course of our work.

In July 2009, we began to compare the addresses of registered sex offenders to addresses for the sites at which all licensed and certified child care providers care for children. We subsequently found four matches. DCF (Department of Children and Families)  and the Department of Corrections (DOC), which maintains
Wisconsin’s Sex Offender Registry, were notified immediately and have confirmed the accuracy of the matches we found in electronic records. They are continuing to follow up and at this point believe that no child was harmed as a result of the situations we identified. However, we could not independently determine whether registered sex offenders had ever been present while care was being provided, and unless procedures are implemented to ensure similar situations do not occur in the future, such a potential will exist.”



The Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) reports the following about the four matches it found:


  • The child care site address of a licensed family provider in Milwaukee County, which is her home address, matched the address of an adult convicted of third-degree sexual assault. DOC indicated to us that the provider and the offender had resided in the same building but in different units, and the offender’s whereabouts are now unknown. Milwaukee County currently authorizes the provider to care for 22 children in the Wisconsin Shares program, and she received $165,600 in program subsidy payments in 2008.

  • The child care site address of another licensed family provider in Milwaukee County, which is not her home address, matched the address of an offender adjudicated as a juvenile for second-degree sexual assault of a child. DOC has reported that the whereabouts of this offender are unknown. Milwaukee County currently authorizes the provider to care for 20 children in the Wisconsin Shares program, and she received $163,500 in program subsidy payments in 2008.

 

  • The child care site address of a certified provider in Racine County, which is her home address, matched the address of her adult son who was convicted of second-degree sexual assault of a child. The county suspended the provider’s certification until it determined that the offender did not reside in the home, and DOC verified that the offender currently resides elsewhere. The provider is currently authorized to care for three children in the Wisconsin Shares program, and she received $23,600 in program subsidy payments in 2008.

 

  • The child care site address of another certified provider in Racine County matched the address of the provider’s adult brother who was convicted of third-degree sexual assault. The county suspended the provider’s certification until it determined that the offender did not reside in the home, and DOC verified that the offender currently resides elsewhere. The provider remains certified but currently is not providing care for children in the Wisconsin Shares program. In 2008, she received $7,400 in program subsidy payments.

 

 

The LAB did not identify any child care providers that were registered sex offenders. However, the LAB reports that the two licensed family providers might be exceeding their license capacity. That could mean fraud is occurring.

Normally, an individual that applies to work as or for a child care provider who has been convicted of a felony, including sexual offenses against adults or children is prohibited from becoming a child care provider or from working for a provider. However, the LAB reports state statutes “permit the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and county or tribal regulatory agencies to allow such an individual to provide care, to be employed by a provider, or to reside in the home if he or she has been rehabilitated.”


Where does the review stand?

In a disturbing note, the LAB reports the four matching sex offender addresses were not discovered before the time of the LAB’s analysis. The LAB reports, “It is possible that the providers did not collect complete and accurate background information disclosure forms from the offenders, that DCF or the county agency with regulatory responsibility did not complete the required background checks, or that the offenders falsely listed the child care site addresses as their places of residence.”


Reacting to the LAB’s findings, the DCF has established a policy requiring that the child care site addresses of applicants for child care licensure or certification be compared with the addresses of registered sex offenders. However, state laws prohibit DOC from publishing information concerning juvenile offenders.

The LAB is continuing to review the new DCF policy and is also finishing its comprehensive review of child care regulation in Wisconsin. The LAB writes, “Currently, we are comparing information on licensed and certified child care providers, their employees, and members of their households with criminal records maintained by DOJ and with records of substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect maintained by DCF.”


It is becoming clearer that as the LAB finds more problems with Wisconsin Shares, serious and swift changes need to be made for the benefit of needy families and state taxpayers.

You can read the LAB report here. 


I commend the LAB for another outstanding review.

UPDATE: The Badger Herald

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