Friday, November 13, 2009

Governor Doyle Signs Four Bills that Build on Efforts to Protect Children, Prevent Fraud

[We have received the following press release and are pleased to publish it on behalf of Governor Doyle's office.]

MILWAUKEE – Governor Jim Doyle today signed into law Senate Bills 280, 299, 331 and 347, which build on his work to protect kids, ensure every child has a chance to succeed, and prevent fraud.

“As Governor, my number one priority has always been putting our kids first,” Governor Doyle said. “We have come a long way to help kids have the best education, best health care and best family support system possible. These bills signed into law today build on our efforts to protect our kids and ensure they can get a great start to life.”

Legislation signed by the Governor also builds on efforts to detect and prevent fraud in Wisconsin Shares, the state’s child care program for over 60,000 low-income working families.

“The recent fraud uncovered in our state’s child care program is simply intolerable – and we will not stand for it,” Governor Doyle said. “Wisconsin Shares is a vitally important program that provides affordable care for children from low income families, so their parents can go back to work. We cannot allow bad actors to undermine such a critical program, and today we are taking important steps to further crack down on fraud.”

While these bills represent significant steps forward, the Governor said there is still a lot more work to do to ensure families have access to high quality child care. In the past, Governor Doyle has proposed a quality rating system that would, for the first time, rate the quality of child care providers and use these ratings to determine state reimbursement under Wisconsin Shares. The recent budget signed by the Governor directs the Department of Children and Families to create a Wisconsin Quality Rating and Improvement System.

The Governor said his Administration will present a plan to the Legislature in the coming weeks to improve child care quality.

“I’ve never understood why we pay a poor child care provider the same rate as those who provide top quality care,” Governor Doyle said. “For years, I have been trying to improve the quality of child care in this state. We will come forward with a plan soon to do just that, and I hope lawmakers will act just as quickly to address the issue.”

The bills signed into law today build on Governor Doyle’s record of putting kids first, from expanding four-year-old kindergarten and school breakfast, to ensuring every child has access to health insurance, to strengthening our foster care system, to creating a new Department of Children and Families to protect children, strengthen families, and build communities.

The four bills are:

Senate Bill 280 dramatically improves the way the state can collect money owed to Wisconsin Shares when an incorporated or limited liability corporation (LLC) provider goes out of business.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Bob Jauch and Kathleen Vinehout, and Representatives Tamara Grigsby and Andy Jorgensen for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 299 strengthens requirements for publicly sharing information related to child abuse or neglect that leads to serious injury or death. This law makes the Department of Children and Families more transparent, while also protecting the best interests of the children.

Governor Doyle thanked the Senate Committee on Children and Families and Workforce Development for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 331 ensures all children are safe by increasing the scope of criminal acts that permanently bar persons from becoming child care providers. The bill also requires more frequent background checks and mandates cross-checking potential child care providers with the sex offender registry and other agency registries. Finally, the bill strengthens requirements of state, county and tribal staff to report suspected abuse and fraud to their supervisors.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Bob Jauch and Kathleen Vinehout, and Representatives Tamara Grigsby and Peter Barca for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 347 makes important changes to align the state with federal standards, from improving efforts to place foster children with relatives and keep siblings together, to strengthening foster parent rights at hearings.

Governor Doyle thanked Senator Bob Jauch and Representative Kristen Dexter for their work on the bill.


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