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Local lawmakers react to child care report

Ingebrigtsen1 / 2
Mary Franson2 / 2

Local Republican legislators were quick to react to a report that looked into fraud in Minnesota's Child Care Assistance Program.

State Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, said that although the report confirmed fraud, the Minnesota Department of Human Services is doing almost nothing to stop it.

"According to DHS records, one couple took in $3 million in CCAP funds in only 10 months," said Franson in a news release. "The OLA (Office of the Legislative Auditor) found that having the Office of the Inspector General housed within DHS creates a significant conflict, where the OIG is operating within the same department that administers the programs it investigates. In no other industry would you find the watchdog housed within the entity it is meant to investigate. We need an independent office to investigate these programs, rather than one that reports to the agency it is tasked with overseeing."

State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said that the report shows that fraud continues to "run rampant" within CCAP without any checks or reforms to bring it to an end.

"This is deeply disappointing as we move into a new administration that continues to aggressively deny the scope of this fraud," Ingebrigtsen said in a news release.

Ingebrigtsen added that it's "outrageous" to waste taxpayer dollars when there are more than 2,000 children who are waiting for access to the assistance program.

"Rather than conceal or deny fraud, this new administration must work to be transparent and forthright about the shortcomings within their departments," Ingebrigtsen said. "Together, we can work on solutions to solve the combined issues that we face to make Minnesota a better place to live."

The nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor released the report on March 13. It showed some level of fraud exists in the program aimed at helping low-income people afford childcare, but the office couldn't substantiate a claim that that fraud came out to $100 million.

Based on the fraud cases that prosecutors have been able to prove, that number is closer to $5 million or $6 million. But there could be additional abuse of the program, auditors said, as prosecutors face challenges in proving fraud in CCAP. They weren't able to pin down a clear figure on how much the state has lost to CCAP fraud.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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