Puerto Rico’s subsidized daycare program jeopardized $16.2 million in U.S. taxes to endanger poor children, according to a new Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General (IG) report.
Puerto Rico’s social work agency failed to properly vet daycare providers or families in 99 out of the 100 childcare vouchers the IG reviewed, risking $16.2 million out of the $16.3 million spent through the Child Care and Development Fund Program from October 2011 to March 2013, according to the IG.
Puerto Rico’s Department of the Family failed to comply with background check requirements for providers in 90 percent of reviewed cases, only required proper childcare licensing for 47 percent of reviewed providers, and failed to document family eligibility in 6 percent of reviewed cases.
“These deficiencies left the Child Care and Development Fund Program vulnerable to fraud, waste, and abuse, and deficiencies in the controls for background checks and provider forms place the health and safety of children at risk,” the IG said.
The tax-funded Child Care and Development Fund Program, intended to provide daycare for poor children while their parents work, is also available in U.S. states. But Puerto Ricans, who receive more than $20 billion annually in federal funds, do not pay federal income taxes. (RELATED: Here’s Your Guide To The Puerto Rico Debt Crisis)
The IG blamed some of the program’s problems on the Office of the Family’s failure to develop written policies and procedures to make sure daycare facilities receiving subsidies comply with background checks and licensing requirements.
The IG recommended the Office of the Family construct policies and procedures to make sure daycare facilities comply with background check and licensing requirements, and create written policies and procedures to keep documentation demonstrating that all families are financially eligible.
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