Head Start rife with enrollment fraud

May 19, 2010 04:43

In testimony presented to the House panel Tuesday, GAO special investigations official Gregory D. Kutz said that in at least eight cases, Head Start employees “manipulated” information to admit ineligible children. Enrollment rules were so lax, he warned, that Head Start workers could easily “doctor” enrollment applications, and families could enter the program with “bogus” documents created at home.

By Cheryl Wetzstein at Washington Times

An undercover investigation into the federal government’s Head Start program has found enough enrollment abuses to generate a report to President Obama and a major damage-control effort by the agency that runs the program.

At a hearing Tuesday, members of the House Education and Labor Committee heard dramatic audio clips of fraud being taken by Government Accountability Office (GAO) agents. In one clip, a New Jersey Head Start worker handed back a $23,000 pay stub to two agents who were pretending to enroll their children in the preschool program.

“Now you see it, now you don’t,” the Head Start worker said.

The worker’s decision to ignore the $23,000 in income meant that the agents’ fictitious children, who otherwise would not have counted as “poor” under government rules, were enrolled in the program, possibly to the detriment of needy children who would have been put on a waiting list.

Fraudulent enrollment is “a blatant violation of Head Start’s rules. … Our administration will not stand for it,” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a letter Monday to Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, California Democrat.

Mr. Obama “has been briefed on GAO’s investigation,” she noted in her letter.


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