The Mississippi Department of Human Services is facing serious criticism from the State Auditor’s Office following their 2018 Single Audit Report. In many findings the state agency failed to meet or provide proof of following legal requirements for services.
It ranges from not monitoring health and safety standards at childcare centers, to making what the Auditor study called “unallowable payments” to daycares. Even allowing people on assistant food and housing programs who may not have been eligible in the first place.
As federal money and programs come to assist those struggling in the magnolia state, Auditor Shad White is noticing flaws with how it’s managed.
“You hope that people around the state will take notice and they will hold their state agencies accountable,” White told us. “And ask them to make the changes that we have identified.”
In a 300 page report Auditor Shad Whites office found the state Department of Human Services violated federal requirements “not certifying all childcare centers receiving federal grants in the state met health and safety standards. In one review they saw 68% of providers did not incorporate all required health and safety elements as outlined by policy.”
“The law requires that agency DHS to monitor those conditions,” White continued. “We could not find paperwork to confirm that they had done that.”
But it doesn’t stop there, in other areas Whites team found the DHS not monitoring tax payer money they sent to childcare organizations and programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF).
“They were not adequately monitoring those grantees,” White explained. “The people who receive money to make sure those folks were spending money in the right way. They did not make sure students that were being counted for subsidies were being counted accurately.”
Those helped by the Child Care Development Fund, and food assistance like SNAP, were not all ensured to be eligible for those programs. A problem brought up in every audit for the last four years.
“If changes don’t get made this could jeopardize some of our federal money,” White stated. “It really just depends on what the federal government wants to do, you’re running the risk of them coming down and saying we’re not going to tolerate our money being spent this way.”
In response the Department of Human Services pointed out to us in the report they do agree taking notice with the Auditors office in all areas. And creating corrective action plans with the department of health and retraining all employees to monitor programs closely.
We received word the Mississippi DHS Executive Director John Davis will retire at the end of this month after being the department head since 2016. Leaving Auditor Shad White optimistic for the right change to come.
To view the full 300 page report and see the specific sections of the Department of Human Service findings from page 127-155 click here.