Office of the State Auditor of Missouri
Report No. 2004-90
December 8, 2004
Improvements are needed in the management and oversight of the Parents' Fair Share Program
The program's goal is to help non-custodial parents (NCPs) obtain jobs and become involved in their children's lives, including paying child support. In order to meet eligibility requirements, the NCP must have a current child support obligation and be unemployed or under-employed. A NCP's current child support monthly payment is temporarily lowered to an amount the NCP can pay while participating in the program. Participants may receive financial assistance from the program for three activities: training, transportation-related expenses, and work-related expenses. Training costs will be paid for up to a year.
Impediments exist in referring eligible NCPs to the program
In April 2003, the Department of Social Services (DSS) had caseworkers stop referring NCPs to the program during the transfer of program management from DSS to the Department of Economic Development - Division of Workforce Development (division). DSS restarted the referral process in July 2003; however, program referrals have not rebounded to the levels prior to the transfer for several reasons. DSS staff said high caseloads prevented caseworkers from having time to identify and refer NCPs to the program. Additionally, the DSS program coordinator said caseworkers may not refer NCPs to the program because many of the NCPs referred chose not to participate once they understood the program's requirements and that the child support order is not eliminated. Also, child support caseworkers are no longer required to refer NCPs to the program before referring them to the Attorney General's office or prosecuting attorneys for prosecution. (See page 4)
Key provisions of agreement not met
The division has not complied with key provisions of the division's cooperative agreement with DSS for management of the program. The division did not prepare any of the required reports because the computer software used to manage the program does not maintain the information necessary or the reports were not available in it. DSS staff has been compiling this information from manual records. In addition, program officials lacked data on job related training by participants because of software limitations. Division program officials said software revisions expected to be operational by spring 2005 will address these problems.
Access to program information in the division's computer tracking program was not limited to individuals associated with the program as required by the cooperative agreement. As a result, about 1,800 system users had access to confidential data on program participants. Only 24 of these users should have had access to PFS program information, according to division staff. Division officials were unaware of this problem and corrected it once we reported it to them. (See page 5)
Expenditure review process is needed
Transportation related expenses and work-related expenses nearly tripled from $59,000 in fiscal year 2003 to $169,000 in fiscal year 2004. Division program supervisors performed limited or no review of transportation-related expenses and work-related expenses during fiscal year 2004 because division procedures did not require it. Our analysis of transportation-related expenses disclosed one program workforce specialist approved 25 percent of all transportation-related expenditures during fiscal year 2004. Review of some of this employee's cases identified questionable expenditures. After discussing identified expenditure weaknesses with division officials in May 2004, they said review procedures would be established. (See page 8)
Success of participants not sufficiently tracked by the division
To successfully complete the program, a participant must hold a job and make a full child support payment plus an amount towards a past due balance for three consecutive months. Division officials have not tracked or determined whether the program has improved NCPs' ability to pay child support, as the division's computer software did not include a field to track the participant's success status when completing the program. DSS staff has compiled this information from alternative sources. (See page 5)