MADISON (WSAU) The number of kids in the Wisconsin Shares child care program is the lowest in 14 months. And the cost-per-child has dropped, as the result of a new crackdown on fraud.
Wisconsin Shares gives tax-funded child care to poor parents so they can work – but the program has been rocked by fraud and false reimbursements to care providers who got millions from it. Last month, almost 57-thousand children were in the Wisconsin Shares program – down eight-percent from October, and six-percent from last November. State subsidies totaled 24-million dollars last month, down from just over 28-million the year before.
About 130 child care providers have lost their state funding since the fraud crackdown began. State children-and-families secretary Reggie Bicha said too many child care providers have criminal histories – and the state is being aggressive in holding them accountable. He said 28 providers had their licenses revoked, after background checks in July found that they were convicted criminals – or someone living with them was a criminal. Most of those cases were in Milwaukee. Also, Bicha said one provider tried to sell the names of 25 kids to another provider – so the second provider could enroll them in the Wisconsin Shares program and get state funding.