- Office of the State Auditor
Media Contact for After Alleged Fraud at South Shore Stars, Audit Provides Guidance to Improve Integrity of Childcare Assistance
Boston — In an audit released today, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump calls on South Shore Stars, Inc. (Stars) to take steps to ensure families that receive childcare financial assistance from the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) meet eligibility criteria and that eligibility data is properly recorded. The audit, which examined the period of July 1, 2017 through November 30, 2019, was initiated at the request of EEC after the discovery of alleged fraud committed by the organization’s former enrollment director. Bump’s office found issues related to eligibility determination and data-recording errors that occurred both during and after the former enrollment director’s time with the organization.
Bump’s audit found that due to omissions and inaccuracies in files, Stars did not always make proper determinations that families qualify for EEC financial assistance. Bump found authorizations that had errors related to verification of Massachusetts residency, income, financial need, and children’s citizenship. The audit also shows that Stars made additional errors when entering data in the Commonwealth’s Child Care Financial Assistance (CCFA) database. As a result of these errors, EEC made childcare payments to Stars for families that may not have been eligible; copayments might have been incorrectly calculated; and eligible families on EEC’s waitlist may have had their childcare needs delayed or unmet.
“The actions of the former enrollment director of South Shore Stars, Inc. have undermined public trust in the organization. Our audit provides guidance Stars can use to rebuild that trust by improving administration and oversight of childcare assistance, and perhaps more importantly, protecting itself from the actions of similar bad actors in the future,” Bump said. “Although Stars has already taken some steps to address these shortcomings, I urge it to fully implement our recommendations.”
To address these issues, Bump calls on Stars to use EEC’s Early Education Subsidy Authorization File Checklist to ensure the school collects all required information from families receiving financial assistance. She also calls on it to improve monitoring to ensure data is accurately recorded in the CCFA database.
Reviews conducted by EEC and Stars determined that actions of the former enrollment director, who pled guilty to charges of larceny, resulted in EEC paying for childcare assistance that was inappropriate and Stars not receiving some copayments to which it was entitled.
Founded in 1970, South Shore Day Care Services became South Shore Stars, Inc. in 2010. Stars is a not-for-profit organization licensed by EEC to provide early education childcare and youth development programs. Each year, Stars serves more than 1,200 children who live in communities south of Boston. During the audit period, Stars provided its services through 10 centers and 17 home care providers.