January 30, 2012

Maragos: Audit Recoups over $50,000 from Duplicate Payments Made for Children in Foster Care

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos released a Department of Social Services Foster Care Payments audit which found 76 duplicate or overlapping payments totaling $78,334 and led to the recovery of $52,475. The audit reviewed payments from January of 2008 through December of 2009 during which 15,000 claims were processed. In one case, a service provider reported a child as being present in two facilities for the same time period for the purposes of billing. As of the end of 2011, DSS had implemented many of the Comptroller’s recommendations and reduced the number of errors even further. 

"Even though only a small percentage of the overall claims were duplicates I am pleased DSS has taken many of our recommended steps to eliminate duplicate payments,” Comptroller Maragos said. “Recouping the misplaced funds is also a win for the taxpayers,” Comptroller Maragos said.

Nassau County currently has over 1,000 children (including 568 children in adoption subsidy) in foster care. When a child is moved from a foster care institution or boarding home to another service provider, a movement form is completed by the caseworker to ensure payment to the correct service provider. Untimely submissions of movement forms by caseworkers were found to be one of the major causes of duplicate foster care payments. The lack of written procedures detailing the foster care payment process contributed to employees processing payments without detecting and preventing duplicate and overlapping service period payments.

Audit recommendations were that DSS should:

  • implement a review process whereby required data entry is reviewed for duplicate or overlapping review periods and approved by a supervisor before payments are made; and
  • regularly consult with the Office of Children and Family Services regarding the new measures and the new WMS/BICS report.  WMS is the Welfare Management System which records where the foster child is placed and if he/she is eligible for financial assistance. BICS is the Benefits Issuance and Control System and processes payments to foster care service providers.

DSS’ preliminary review of the WMS/BICS report revealed duplicate payments were still occurring as of June 2011. DSS subsequently implemented the following:

  • A weekly follow-up procedure by a supervisor to insure caseworkers are preparing and submitting movement forms on a weekly basis.
  • DSS currently reviews the BICS File Maintenance Report on a daily basis and the Non-Reimbursable Report on a monthly basis for potential duplicates.

Additionally, the Comptroller’s office assigned auditors to DSS to perform an on-site desk audit before the claims are approved for payment. This has resulted in the detection of certain errors in foster care claims, such as computational errors and errors on attendance sheets, reducing the risk of incorrect payments.

 “The Comptroller’s office will continue to work with DSS to ensure payments are not duplicated and the service providers for the children in foster care receive the resources they need,” Comptroller Maragos concluded.

PDF File Limited Review of the Department of Social Services' Foster Care Payments for Duplicate Claims