The state Office of Children and Family Services recently awarded a $1 million contract for a technology-based initiative that will assist local districts in cracking down further on child-care subsidy fraud and waste, the agency announced. The state loses millions of dollars each year to parents and providers that submit false or inaccurate claims and receive undeserved, publicly funded subsidies, according to OCFS.
Such fraud takes a toll on state and local governments, OCFS said in a statement. National estimates of losses range from 10 percent to 40 percent of each dollar allocated. The agency oversees the licensing and registration of more than 19,000 child care providers and nearly 47,000 legally exempt providers, which together serve more than 234,000 children who receive child care subsidies.
The five-year contract is with California-based Controltec Inc. and IBM, which will develop an automated technical solution to identify potential fraud cases and rank them based on risk indicators. That will allow county department of social services officials and Office of Children and Family Services staff to prioritize potential cases.
“OCFS is continuing its work to stop child care subsidy fraud before it starts,” Gladys Carrión, who was commissioner at the time the contract was awarded, said in a statement to The Journal News/lohud.com. She recently joined the administration of New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio. “Those committing this type of fraud are stealing from taxpayers and reducing funds available for eligible families who rely on subsidies to pay for child care.”
In March 2012, the agency gave more than $1 million in Child Care Fraud Prevention and Detection Incentive grants to 20 departments of social services. Some of the counties used the money to create detection and prevention programs, and others expanded on their progress by establishing task forces or educating members of the public about how they could help. In just one year, Nassau County protected taxpayers from $1 million in welfare fraud thanks to a $100,000 grant.
Rockland and Westchester counties received funding in 2012 and 2013. Rockland received $60,000 in 2012 and $48,000 in 2013. Westchester got a $98,810 in 2012 and $52,698 in 2013. Putnam County did not apply for the grant, a spokeswoman for the Office of Children and Family Services said. At the end of the first year of the grant, Rockland County recovered $12,663 and saved $72,000 by closing ineligible cases, she said.
Previous anti-fraud measures implemented by the Office of Children and Family Services include strengthening anti-fraud regulations; creating a statewide automated Child Care Time and Attendance System; giving local social services district more authority to stop child-care payments when appropriate and initiate enforcement actions against providers found to be engaging in fraud.