The state auditor does not often give a state program a “poor” rating after looking at its finances. He has issued only his second “poor” rating to a state agency since taking office.
It’s been six years since the auditor looked at the Early Childhood Development, Education, and Care Fund. It’s a joint project of the Departments of Social Services and Elementary and Secondary Education. Auditor Tom Schweich has found an expensive and extensive lack of follow-up in an audit of the program. No fraud was found. But he says mismanagement and lack of oversight have been serious enough to merit the low rating.
Schweich’s staff is especially critical of the Start Up and Expansion program for child care facilities, which has given $171,500 to proposed child care facilities that never opened or never added promised services. He says the program should have tried to get the money back but hasn’t done it. Six years ago, the auditor criticized the program’s lack of oversight and monitoring. Failure to remedy those problems, he says, is one reason the agencies have gotten a “poor rating.”
The next audit won’t wait six more years. Schweich sends his staff back in three or four months anytime there’s a “poor” rating to see if promised improvements have been made.