News and updates on Office of Inspector General activities.
In recognition of Gov. Mark Dayton proclaiming Nov. 16 to 22 Infant Safe Sleep Week (PDF) , DHS Inspector General Jerry Kerber, along with physicians from Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), participated in an event Tuesday, Nov. 18 that demonstrated a safe sleep environment for infants. A spike in infant deaths in family child care settings in, particularly in 2010 and 2011, led to new legislation passed in 2013 to add new training requirements (PDF) for licensed child care providers that addressed infant safe sleep practices.
Since the new law took place, infant deaths in child care settings have decreased significantly. This year there has been one death in a family child care setting due to an unsafe sleep environment, but even one death is too many, Kerber said.
A southern Minnesota county, in consultation with the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), successfully excluded a childcare center from receiving public funding for one year due to fraudulent billing. The county’s investigation showed that the center inflated its attendance records. On four different occasions, childcare personnel visited the center and observed fewer children than the center reported on its attendance records. The center billed the state for more children than were listed on daily attendance records, and more children than were observed. This case is important for several reasons. Because the appropriate standard of evidence was found to be a preponderance of evidence, and not the higher standard of clear and convincing evidence, it will make it easier for counties to clamp down on intentional program violations against childcare centers that defraud the state. This means counties need only establish that it is more likely than not that a provider engaged in the intentional program violation. Also, this case establishes that counties can successfully determine a center’s intent to defraud by using circumstantial evidence. In other words, if a county can show many circumstances consistent with the intent to defraud, the circumstances can be considered sufficient without having to introduce direct testimony or evidence of fraud. As such, this case should significantly benefit counties interested in pursuing childcare providers through the administrative disqualification hearing process. The OIG legal unit is available to answer any questions or concerns related to this case. Please contact the OIG at 651-431-4328 or James.Ortmann@state.mn.us.
Close to 1,200 people attended a series of information sessions throughout the state to learn about the background studies law passed in 2014. DHS Office of Inspector General staff hosted nine meetings from July through October in various locations throughout Minnesota. The meetings highlighted the new law that requires the department to collect fingerprints and a photograph of the background study subject. The law also requires new software implementation that supports a number of changes designed to improve the accuracy and completeness of background studies. Following the presentation at each session, stakeholders were able to ask questions.
Information on new laws passed in 2014 that affect licensed programs is now available. Included are highlights of the laws, the statute citation and the effective date. A fact sheet on a new background studies law aimed at improving protections for vulnerable adults and children (PDF) has been posted on the 2014 legislative fact sheets page.
Infant deaths in child care settings fell dramatically in 2013 from the two previous years, according to the recently published 2013 Licensing Division and Background Studies Division Year-end Report (PDF). The report features trends over previous years, a review of 2013 legislation and a look forward. The report notes that a number of factors may be contributing to this reduction in infant child care deaths, including increased public awareness of safe sleep practices, increased consistency in enforcement through the development of forms and tools for licensors, and enhanced provider information regarding standards and training requirements. More information is in a news release about the report.
Information on new and increased training requirements for licensed family child care providers as a result of 2013 legislation is now available. The information includes updates on requirements for pre-service training as well as annual in-service training. Providers can also reference the Guide (Scenarios) to New 2014 FCC Training Requirements (PDF), which provides several different scenarios for new family child care licensing applicants as well as current license holders.
The number of reports of maltreatment in Minnesota licensed programs in fiscal year 2013 increased by 7 percent while the number of substantiated reports rose by 10 percent. These are some of the findings in the Minnesota Department of Human Services FY 13 Maltreatment Report (PDF) to the Legislature. Also noteworthy is that from FY 12 to FY 13, the number of maltreatment investigations the department was able to complete in FY 13 increased 9 percent over the previous reporting period. More information is in a story about the report.