By Farrah Fazal
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - The big yellow buses sitting outside, covered in snow aren't moving like they usually do. It's a snow day.
They usually bring the tiny tots to the big yellow building on Kingshighway daily. The bright building is on the Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich's dark list. He said the owners of that daycare and 679 others across Missouri are ripping off taxpayers for $300,000.
"We found the Department of Social Services paid $300,000 to child care providers when children were not in the program anymore," said Schweich.
The federal government gives the State of Missouri $172 million for childcare programs. The auditor said his staff found $300,000 of that money was misused. The government allows daycares to charge up to five days worth of absences. Schweich said the daycares kept charging the absences even when the children were no longer enrolled in their daycares.
"That's obviously fraud, they know the kid is not there. The kid is not coming back," said Schweich.
NewsChannel 5 asked the auditor's staff for daycares in the St. Louis area that were overcharging. They gave us the names of five businesses. We are not releasing their names because they haven't been charged with a crime.
We knocked at a daycare in north St. Louis. Nobody was there.
We tried the one on Kingshighway. Nobody answered.
Many daycares are closed for the snow day. The auditor wants the federal government to go after those businesses, and hold them accountable criminally. He said they both overcharged the government about $10,000.
"In a few cases, the amounts were small, and they made a mistake. But in other cases, the amounts were big: $8,000, $10,000, $12,000. It's hard for me to believe they didn't know they were charging illegally," said Schweich.
The auditor agreed the $300,000 is a small drop in the bucket when you consider the department delivered $172 million to parents in Missouri.
"Every dollar that goes to somebody who's not entitled to it, is a dollar that doesn't go to somebody who is entitled," said Schweich.
Schweich said the Department of Social Services agrees with his findings and his changing the way it does business.