/Feds Mississippi must replace all misspent or stolen welfare money with state funds

Feds Mississippi must replace all misspent or stolen welfare money with state funds

An audit of state spending by the Mississippi Department of Human Services was published in May. It focused on $94 million of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs. The auditor also found many purchases to be absurd. While other purchases could have been beneficial to needy families, the auditor was unable to obtain documentation to determine if they were legal expenses. The audit focused on spending for fiscal year 2019, but did not include any previous purchases that the auditor may have found during the audit. For example, a contract that spans multiple years. Officials are yet to determine the amount of dollars that were misappropriated or stolen. Six people were arrested by the auditor’s bureau in connection to the scheme. They allege that former employees of the agency and officers of an educational services nonprofit stole more than $4.15million. The FBI is also involved in the investigation. The FBI is also being investigated. It will take a while to make a decision. However, we are keen to reach a final penalty resolution. This would allow the state to replace any federal TANF funds that were misused with its own funds. The state will have to allocate its own money to the welfare program, as it is one of the most dependent on federal dollars for providing services to its citizens. The TANF block grant program provides $86.5 million in federal funding to Mississippi each year. This funding has not increased since 1996. To draw down these funds, states must spend a minimum amount of state dollars. In Mississippi in 2018, that was $21.7 million. Mississippi has never used separate state funds to match grant matches for TANF-specific programs. Instead, it reports the amount of its investment in college scholarships (which are more frequently given to middle class families) as a TANF expense. The Mississippi Department of Human Services ordered a more detailed forensic audit in order to find out where every dollar was misplaced. The department will issue demand letters in order to recover the property and funds from the wrong recipients. This includes the Mississippi Community Education Center and the Family Resource Center of North Mississippi, which were at the heart of the scheme. Human Services spokesperson Danny Blanton stated in an email that “if we are still not able recoup at this time, we will pursue every legal option available to us.” Below is the complete statement of the U.S. Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families communication office to Mississippi Today. We are aware that extensive fraud was committed by programs meant to protect its most vulnerable citizens. It is crucial that federal TANF funds only be used to cover allowable program costs for services to disadvantaged families. The Department of Health and Human Services will next determine the amount of federal funds that were fraudulently or inappropriately used by the state program. HHS will then be able to proceed with the next step, which is to impose a penalty on the state of Mississippi in regard to its misuse of TANF money. We are currently undergoing several federal and state investigations. This will likely lead to a long process before we can make our decision. However, we are eager for a final penalty resolution to ensure that any federal TANF funds are replaced with state funds. The audit focused on 2019 findings, but any misuse of funds from prior years will be subject to penalty action. We will work with the Mississippi Department of Human Services in order to improve its oversight and monitoring of its program. We use both the audit process and technical assistance to make sure that any changes are made to prevent such a problem in the future. If necessary, additional monitoring may be required. You can find all our coverage of Mississippi welfare here.