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Wisconsin program implemented to prevent day-care fraud cut

A number of publicly funded Wisconsin day care providers have been criminally charged with fraud. In addition more than 200 providers have lost public funding after being suspected of trying to cheat the system of money.

The state planned to implement an electronic attendance system in an effort to prevent providers from defrauding the funding program. But after spending almost half a million dollars a pilot system, Wisconsin has abandoned the project and is looking for other ways to address the day care fraud.

Legislators first began proposing changes to the program's policies in 2009. According to reports at the time, some day care providers were allegedly falsifying their records and billing the state for children who were not actually attending their day care center.

Wisconsin administrators hoped that the electronic attendance system would be able to accurately record the number of children being cared for at publicly funded centers. However, they found that the chosen system, which would scan the fingers of the children as they entered and exited the childcare center, was not reliable when scanning children who are five years old or younger.

Though the project was nearly halfway completed, it was not being used in any day care centers when the program was terminated. But despite the termination, Wisconsin lawmakers agree that some type of automated system must be put in place. They hope to implement an effective system that can prevent fraud by the end of this year.

This project shows how serious the state is about preventing fraud. Any type of fraud charge is serious and prosecutors will often aggressively pursue punishing those who have been accused of the crime. The article does not state what sort of penalties the day care centers are facing, but it could mean lengthy imprisonment for those involved.

Source: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel online, "State cancels contract to combat day-care fraud," Raquel Rutledge, 20 March 2011

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