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August 19, 2010


DiNapoli: State OCFS Paid for Care of Deceased Children



The State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) made $214,593 in inappropriate payments to adoptive parents of hard-to-place and handicapped children, according to an audit being released today by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.  This included $180,783 to support 25 children who were listed as deceased.  

A subsequent check of records found that one child, who accounted for $2,613 of the inappropriate payments cited in the audit, had been incorrectly identified as deceased due to a data entry error by the Erie County social services district.  

“Taking care of children - especially orphaned and disabled children - should be at the top of everyone’s agenda,” DiNapoli said. “But taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for the care of children who have passed away.  There’s too little money and too many needy children; we can’t let taxpayer dollars be wasted.”

Of the 24 deceased children, 21 were adopted from the NYC area, and one each from the Albany, Syracuse, and Long Island areas.  DiNapoli’s audit covered the period January 2007 through January 2009.  OCFS is seeking to recover all inappropriate payments.
 
In the course of the audit, OCFS stopped the inappropriate payments for 21 of the deceased children. DiNapoli’s auditors recommended that inappropriate payments be stopped for the remaining children.  If the payments continued for the deceased children until age 21, the state will have made an additional $423,880 in inappropriate payments.

Other inappropriate payments included $33,360 paid after the adopted person had turned 21 years old; the payment resulted from an incorrect birth date in OCFS records.  If payments continue to this household, the parents would receive an additional $55,041 based on the incorrect date of birth.  

DiNapoli’s auditors recommended that OCFS:
  • Investigate all overpayments identified in the audit report and make appropriate recoveries.
  • Periodically verify the accuracy of key eligibility data used to support subsidy payments.

OCFS officials for the most part agreed with the audit’s recommendations and indicated they are implementing corrective action. A copy of the full audit, including the OCFS’s response, can be found here: http://osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093010/08s106.htm.

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