If you are not part of a low-income family with small children, you may not have heard of the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). Similar to the Medicaid program, CCDF is a joint program between the federal government and the states that provides child care subsidies to eligible low-income families so the parent(s) or legal guardian can work or attend school.
In 2015, under the CCDF program, the federal government paid $5.4 billion and the states contributed a combined $2.2 billion to provide child care to 1.5 million children per month. Of those monies, Florida received nearly $274 million in federal funding and provided child care subsidies to 213,000 eligible children.
As with any government program, there is a potential for fraud. A report recently issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General estimates that in 2015, $311 million in false claims were submitted to the CCDF program. The potential for fraud includes false claims made by both clients receiving the subsidies and child care providers.
In order to be eligible for child care assistance under the CCDF, the child must be under the age of 13 (or 19 if the child is disabled), reside with a family whose total income is less than 85% of the state’s median income, and reside with a parent or a legal guardian who is working, attending school, or a job training program. Once a child is deemed eligible to receive a CCDF subsidy, the child’s parent or legal guardian receives a voucher which is used towards the payment of care provided by an authorized CCDF child care provider.
What kinds of fraud are committed against the CCDF program?
- Providers paying illegal kickbacks to recruit clients;
- Clients who do not meet the criteria falsifying information on eligibility applications in order to qualify for the subsidy;
- Providers falsifying documentation in order to be approved as a CCDF provider;
- Providers submitting claims for child care services that were not rendered; and
- Providers falsifying attendance and enrollment records in order to increase their payments from the CCDF program.
Fraud on the CCDF program not only hurts the government, it hurts families. The money paid to fraudsters could have been used to help additional qualified families obtain child care so that the parents or legal guardians could work or attend school.
With help from whistleblowers, these fraudsters can be stopped. The False Claims Act permits whistleblowers to bring lawsuits for fraud committed against the government. As a reward, whistleblowers who report government fraud may be entitled to a percentage of the government’s recovery.
If you have firsthand knowledge of fraud against the CCDF or any government program, contact us for a free and confidential consultation to see if you may have a valid whistleblower claim.