$100 Million of taxpayer money is being stolen from the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and sent in suitcases of cash to Somalia. I'm sure you've heard the headline by now and seen the Fox 9 story that broke nearly two years ago. Fraud at this level would certainly warrant shutting down a program...or at least, ensuring future taxpayer money is being properly accounted for by the Minnesota Dept of Human Services (DHS).
In fact, DHS is required by law to ensure our tax money is being utilized properly in the Child Care Assistance Program. According to State Statute 245H which regulates certified license-exempt child care centers (defined as centers that receive child care assistance payments), "the commissioner must conduct an on-site inspection of a certified license-exempt child care center at least annually". When pressed back in early December by Rep Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) how many of these inspections were conducted in the 90 days since Jodi Harpstead became Commissioner of DHS, she responded with "I don't know the current state of how often we visit every child care center in Minnesota, so I'll have to find that out and let you know".
We reached out to Rep Munson to see if his office had received an answer from the Commissioner. As of January 17th, Commissioner Harpstead has yet to respond. The statute also requires the Commissioner to "make publicly available on the department's website the results of inspection reports for all certified centers". We were unable to find this on the DHS website.
As the Governor and Republican Senate reveal their vision for the 2020 Legislative Session, absent from the conversation is what either side will do to combat the fraud. They appear to think this isn't even a problem anymore. But how can Minnesota taxpayers rest assured that our money isn't being ripped off if DHS isn't making these visits?
Of all the priorities for an incoming Commissioner to the state's largest, most bloated agency, how is this not priority #1? Imagine a CEO of a corporation who had a division under her watch that was bleeding money due to theft. How could anyone justify that CEO keep her job if she wasn't immediately focused on fixing the theft or ending that division?
Want results?! SIGN THE PETITION to End the Child Care Fraud!