State Rep Cory Mason, D-Racine, joined the call for an audit of the Wisconsin Shares childcare program, in testimony today to the Joint Committee on Audit.
Mason said he has heard from several constituents concerned about reports of alleged fraud in the program. "I share their concerns.”
The Wisconsin Shares child care tuition program is designed to provide assistance to hard-working, low-income families who need childcare for their young children. In a typical month, more than 60,000 children are served by Wisconsin Shares. However, the program has come under scrutiny in recent weeks after the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel uncovered possible provider fraud and inappropriate use of funds.
“The Wisconsin Shares program should be a program worthy of integrity,” Mason continued. “But the program has been wrought with problems, not the least of which appears to be abhorrent abuse of taxpayer dollars by some providers who are under investigation by the District Attorney’s office.”
Mason encouraged the Committee to conduct an audit before the budget is finished, and provide a review of the proposals to modify Wisconsin Shares in the state stimulus bill and the Governor’s proposed 2009-11 budget. Proposed changes to the program include: a tracking system to reduce errant or inaccurate reporting; a program integrity unit to investigate concerns about fraud, and a quality rating system to assess each providers’ quality of care.
“I know that investing in quality early childhood care is good for our community because I’ve seen the difference the Early Childhood Lab at Gateway Technical College and Next Generation Now in Racine have made in the lives of children who live in my district,” Mason said. “Conducting a swift and thorough audit of the Wisconsin Shares program is the first step toward ensuring taxpayer dollars support programs that provide high-quality care to children of honest, hardworking parents.”