During a dire budget year in which the state has little money to spare, an audit released Tuesday raises concerns over how Missouri monitors which health care and child care providers are eligible for federal dollars.
In her review of how Missouri spent $8.4 billion in federal funding during fiscal year 2016, Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway said the state should do more to ensure tax dollars aren’t going toward ineligible recipients, especially as lawmakers struggle to plug a $500 million budget shortfall.
Problems persist in payments made through a child care subsidy program intended to provide care for more than 60,000 low-income children whose working parents can’t afford the market rate.
Galloway found “significant weaknesses” in how the Department of Social Services has administered more than $135 million in subsidies, noting that in 5 percent of reviewed cases, payments were made on behalf of children without a valid need. In 17 percent of cases, payments were made without adequate documentation, and didn’t comply with department policies.
The audit is the first in a series of reviews conducted by the state auditor examining what inappropriate spending has contributed to Missouri’s current budget crisis.