Hundreds of convicts – including sexual predators, child abusers and even a murderer – were allowed to work as child day care providers in Michigan from October 2003 to March 2006, according to a report released in July by the state’s Office of the Auditor General.
A second audit report, also released in July, found that the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) spent an estimated $231 million during the same period for child care that wasn’t needed, requested, authorized or, in some cases, actually provided.
The audit of child care providers found that DHS authorized about 1,900 unsuitable workers – out of a total of 116,585 child day-care providers – to care for about 4,600 children under its Child Development and Care program. The program provides day care for children whose parents must work, attend school or get medical care.
Most of the 1,900 unsuitable providers were relatives, other adults living in the home with relatives or in-home aides providing day care. These providers must be registered with the state. Larger, out-of-home day care operators must be licensed. Among the licensed facilities, only those that received federal funds were included in the audit.
Many of the problems arose because the department did not screen applicants before accepting them, which resulted in 712 unsuitable providers being approved because they did not state on their applications that they had criminal records. In addition, the department did not perform mandated monthly criminal record checks to determine whether the providers had been charged with new crimes.
Until 2007, the DHS didn’t routinely check the state sex offender registry before hiring, which led to the hiring of 301 providers who had records of child abuse or neglect. Another 127 were accused of child abuse or neglect after they were approved.