Gov. Tim Walz wants staffers involved in Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) to undergo “cultural sensitivity and implicit bias” training after a recent report confirmed widespread fraud in the program.
As The Minnesota Sun has reported, the Office of the Legislative Auditor’s long-awaited report confirmed that millions of dollars in government payments have gone to fraudulent child care centers, and described a “serious rift” among CCAP officials.
The report suggested that some “child care center owners have recruited CCAP eligible mothers by offering to pay kickbacks to entice the mothers to advise county CCAP staff that their children are attending a particular center.”
Walz decided to intervene this week, and had Deputy Department of Human Services Commissioner Chuck Johnson deliver a set of recommendations to the Minnesota House Early Childhood Committee. Among them was a proposal to require staffers to “undergo training on cultural sensitivity and implicit bias,” Fox 9 reports.
The recommendations are now included in a bill introduced by House Democrats this week.
“The commissioner of human services shall develop equity and implicit bias training for state and county licensors and require all licensors to receive this training within 30 days of initial hiring and once every two years thereafter,” House File 2651 states.
House Republicans, however, strongly rebuked the sensitivity training requirement, and some even introduced a bill this week to repeal CCAP altogether.
“There is a competency problem in this government in taking fraud seriously. Fraud does not see skin color. Fraud is fraud. It doesn’t matter who is committing fraud,” Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) said.
State Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes) suggested freezing CCAP until “Minnesotans are satisfied they are not being ripped off.”
In light of last week's audit, Senator @rcchamberlain1 suggests freezing the child care assistance program until we get answers and Minnesotans are satisfied they are not being ripped off.#mnleg pic.twitter.com/KHpKnNAa1k
— Minnesota Senate Republicans (@mnsrc) March 20, 2019
“Minnesotans are being asked to bear the brunt of this, and the previous governor took little action to address it,” he said. “I think we have more work to do, and it’s not much to ask that we should not be funding these programs—we should freeze funding of the programs until we have all the answers.”
Walz also recommended introducing “attendance reports” that child care centers would be required to provide to inspectors without warning, and requested $5.3 million in funding to create a fraud tracking system and hire additional inspectors.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Tim Walz” by Tim Walz.