A four-month investigation of the $340 million taxpayer-funded "Wisconsin Shares" welfare childcare program found the program rife with abuse and loopholes.
In one instance, research conducted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found that four sisters with 17 children bagged $540,000.00 in taxpayer monies since 2006 by simply staying home and babysitting for each other. The most shocking part: it's perfectly legal.
"It's a loophole," said Laurice Lincoln, administrative coordinator for child care with the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services. "Do we have concerns about it? Yes, it can be a problem. But if it's allowed, it's allowed. We really can't dispute it."There's more.
The Wisconsin Shares program also allows parents to work at childcare facilities where their kids attend. In one instance, the newspaper found an employer and parent team accused of bilking taxpayers for over $360,000.
Part of the problem is that the Wisconsin Shares childcare subsidy program has wide parameters for what the state considers "work." For example, the investigation found that mothers who "claimed to work ironing a man's shirts, drying fruit and selling artwork they made during art class" all received taxpayer-funded checks.
The program is so lax, it even pays parents to sleep. As the Wisconsin Journal Sentinel points out, "Counties have no way to monitor whether parents are actually sleeping while their kids are in day care."
An estimated 34,000 Wisconsin families presently take advantage of the $340 million taxpayer-funded Wisconsin Shares program.