By: Ryan Lee Hall
A four-month investigation of the $340 million taxpayer-funded "Wisconsin Shares" program of childcare welfare found that the program is riddled with abuses and loopholes.
In one case, the investigation carried out by the news media found that four sisters with 17 children between them racked in $540,000 in taxpayer dollars since 2006, just by staying home and babysitting each other’s children. The most impressive of this all is that it is perfectly legal.
"It's a loophole," said Laurice Lincoln, administrative coordinator for child care in Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services. "We are not worried about that? Yes, it can be a problem. But if allowed, it is permitted. There is really not much we can do."
The Wisconsin Shares program also allows parents to work in child care centers where their children attend. In one case, the newspaper found an employer and a team of parents accused of defrauding taxpayers more than $360,000.
Part of the problem is that the care of children in Wisconsin Shares subsidy program has wide parameters of what the state considers "work". For example, the research found that mothers who "claimed to work for a man ironing shirts, drying fruit and selling works of art made during art class," all received checks funded by taxpayers.
The program is so lax that it even pays for parents to sleep. As a report said, "counties have no way of verifying if parents are truly sleeping while their children are in kindergarten."
An estimated 34,000 families in Wisconsin today take advantage of the $340 million program funded by the taxpayers of Wisconsin.