An audit by the Office of the State Comptroller released last week found several problems with the state-funded childcare program, including overpayments and ineligible participants. State Comptroller Matthew Boxer sat down with NJToday Managing Editor Mike Schneider to discuss the issues and what his office is doing going forward.
Boxer said his office was surprised with the extent of problems found, including that one out of every seven participants in the state-funded childcare program were ineligible. Many families were earning too much to qualify and Boxer said truly eligible families were waiting for slots to open.
One of the major problems Boxer said they found was that state employees who were vetting candidates for the program had entered a series of nines for some of the applicants’ Social Security numbers. The program requires a Social Security number to establish residency or citizenship.
Overpayments came because the state was paying for childcare for some children who had not attended the facility for months. Other applicants claimed an income of $18,000 when the family actually earned $90,000 or more. Boxer said his office will be working with the state agency that administers the program to determine whether there has been criminal activity.
Boxer also talked about increasing the transparency of government, which he said is difficult because there are so many at the local level that it’s difficult to monitor. He said consolidating some local entities, not exclusively municipalities, would help with transparency as well as the economic and financial situations.