December 17, 2009

Child care audit points to Racine County deficiencies

The latest state audit of the Wisconsin Shares program -- released Thursday by the Legislative Audit Bureau -- points a finger directly at Racine County, and not in a favorable way.

The report noted that more than 600 child care centers throughout the state were overdue for inspections this year. At the same time, the caseload of Racine County's certification staff is the largest in the state: Each of the 1.75 workers tasked with that job in the county has 170 facilities to keep track of... more than any of the 11 counties the audit staff inspected.

In those counties visited, caseloads ranged from 110 to 170. The low was 23 facilities per caseload staff person in Crawford County. A national agency recommends not more than 75 facilities per certification staff person.

There are 11,120 regulated child care facilities in Wisconsin; Racine County has 298. Elsewhere in the report it lists the county as having 100 licensed family facilities, 39 licensed group facilities and 413 certified facilities -- a total of 552.

Racine also stood out among the eight cases auditors found in which a felon or child abuser was living or working in a child care facility. Of the eight, two were in Racine County:
  • A household member residing at a certified facility in Racine County was convicted of felony battery in January 2004. Racine County conducted a criminal background check of the household member in March 2009, but no action was taken. After we notified DCF of our finding, the county revoked the facility’s certification on October 9, 2009. In 2009, the facility received $6,200 in Wisconsin Shares subsidy payments
  • An employee of a licensed family facility in Racine County had a substantiated finding of child abuse in July 2004. When notified of the match, DCF indicated that the employee did not report it on her background disclosure form. Because facilities are not able to obtain information on substantiated findings of child abuse and neglect when they conduct background checks, the facility operator was not aware of the finding. DCF reported that, effective October 23, 2009, the facility is no longer licensed. In 2009, the facility received $19,500 in Wisconsin Shares subsidy payments.
Racine County child care administration expenses in 2008 were listed as $471,219, lower only than Milwaukee, Dane and Kenosha counties.

The complete audit report is HERE. This audit follows a series of investigations by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel into abuses in the $350 million Wisconsin Shares child care program. Its report on this latest audit is HERE.


  1. Alas, our local leaders don't value children--particularly the children of low-income parents. Racine's atrocious minority infant mortality rate and its reputation as a paradise for pedophiles are no accidents.

  2. Racine spent $417,000 for administration of the shares program and Mac could not find dollars for fraud investigation? Mason was right, Racine County has not shown an interest in proper administration of the program.

    Either MAC is blowing "hot air" to cover his butt or HSD staff have not given him all the information on how the funds can be spent. Much of the fraud could have been prevented if the available state funds were allocated more appropriately. Heads should roll !

  3. The article and blogs to this point are too quick to put all the blame on the county. This is another example of the State creating unfunded mandates or underfunding old partial funded mandates. There is enough blame for everyone in this and other similar issues that involve the State. The State historically unfunds or underfunds mandates then when the wheels fall off one of their programs they push all the blame on the counties.

    Child care center monitoring is critical but the State put requirements on the counties to monitor the centers but didn't send enough money to take on the task.

    For all the demands for the county to step up, there will be just as much complaining in the blogs about how high our property taxes are this year. RUSD went up so much this year it will likely change the dialog about the proposed referendums.

    So remember there are many causes for the child care issues and the State is one of them. The State owns a big part of the issue and Mason is trying to shove it all on the county.

  4. So...what are the addresses?

  5. And Cory Mason voted against getting Racine the resources it needs to combat this problem.

    Of course that never comes up when the author's daughter works for him.

  6. Cory Mason I hope gets removed from office. His next job should be in Cuba

  7. Am I wrong that it should be the responsibility of each director of each center to run background checks on every new employee that is hired? If so, why is funding needed at all? Should it not be a standard hiring practice with the state providing this information to the centers at no cost? This appears to be just one more example of a lack of common sense being used in our system and the government making things more difficult than they should be. If the internal monitoring of these centers was properly done, then the state inspectors would have a much easier job. So, when a state inspector does identify a center that is not properly policing itself, immediately fire that center’s director and the felonious employee(s), hire new ones and move on. Eventually, the remaining center directors will get the message and clean up their acts.

    The second thing that needs to be addressed, but seems to be overlooked, is getting to the root of why the caseload in Racine County is the highest in the state. Once again, it appears that this state government thinks that just throwing money at the problem is the answer, as opposed to addressing the cause and attempting to correct it. Maybe if Wisconsin were to stop with so many handouts then those who have come here from other states for them would go back to the states they left (primarily Illinois, Indiana and Michigan). Wisconsin, draw a line in the sand and tell the rest of the country, “If you’re on welfare of any type, don’t come here expecting to get it.” Let’s take care of our existing population and not allow any more outsiders to come in and drain our resources even further.