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Audit: Department overstated child care wait list

November 25, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — An audit has found that the state Department of Early Education and Care has overstated its child care waiting list by more than 21,000 entries.

Auditor Suzanne Bump said her audit found that the department had maintained a waiting list for child care that contained 21,561 outdated or duplicate entries, overstating the total demand by as much as 36 percent.

The audit also found that the department may not have sent eligibility confirmation letters to approximately 15 percent of families on the waiting list, calling into question the list’s reliability.

The department is the state’s lead agency for administering and providing early education and care programs and services to children and is responsible for the licensing of child care providers.

In response to the audit, Bump said, the department has reactivated two software features designed to automatically remove outdated names and check for duplicate entries. She said a more reliable waiting list will give lawmakers the information they need to better assess the funding requirements for the department.

The audit also found that the department failed to ensure that drivers and monitors underwent criminal record checks and had the required training and certification before transporting students.

It said the department also failed to make sure that transportation companies maintained travel logs and that vehicles transporting children passed all required inspections and maintained proper insurance coverage.

The department said it has hired a transportation compliance monitor, who has begun a monitoring plan, risk assessment and onsite monitoring of child care transportation services.

Bump also urged the department to consider banning 15-passenger vans for child care transportation. She pointed to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommendation that states prohibit use of the vans to transport students because of a high rollover risk.

Massachusetts is one of only eight states to use the 15-passenger vans.

The audit was performed at the request of state lawmakers.

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