The state Joint Audit Committee, co-chaired by state Rep. Samantha Kerkman, released the following statement today regarding improvements to DCF Oversight of Child-Placing Agencies:
Today, the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) released its audit of Child‑Placing Agencies (report 13-15). The Joint Legislative Audit Committee had approved the audit in February 2013 in response to concerns regarding excess salaries, personal expenses, and undocumented expenditures at child-placing agencies. Child-placing agencies are licensed by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to place and monitor children in foster homes. In December 2012, there were 24 licensed child-placing agencies in Wisconsin. LAB reviewed a selection of 1,844 transactions totaling $838,739 made by five child-placing agencies from 2010 through 2012 and questioned 558 transactions totaling $129,525. LAB recommends that DCF require the five child-placing agencies to either repay these questioned costs, provide adequate assurance that these costs were not funded with public funds, or provide additional justification for the expenditure of these funds. LAB also found that DCF could have received an estimated $470,000 in additional federal funds in 2012 that it did not claim. “This audit is a clear indication that improved oversight and financial tracking is needed at the Department of Children and Families. It’s critical that the department ensure that reporting requirements are met by child-placing agencies and make the appropriate enforcement actions when there are problems,” stated Senator Cowles (R-Green Bay). LAB made several recommendations for DCF to address issues related to the administrative policies and practices of child-placing agencies, including potential conflicts of interest for governing board members, employee bonuses, loans, cash advances, long-term debt, and the use and purchase of vehicles. “These audit findings give DCF clear direction to improve and clarify policies for child-placing agencies going forward,” said Rep. Kerkman (R-Randall) today. “These agencies must be accountable to taxpayers about how state funds are spent, and DCF must ensure that the unallowable expenses are properly accounted for.” To obtain a copy of report 13-15, please visit LAB’s website at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lab/ or call 608‑266-2818. To report fraud, waste, or mismanagement in state government, call LAB’s hotline at 1‑877-FRAUD-17.