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Four sisters rake in more than $500,000 through loophole in welfare law

In Racine, four sisters take care of each other's 17 children, and you're paying for it.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says the four are in-home child care providers under the Wisconsin Shares program.

And mainly by swapping kids, they took advantage of a loophole which paid them more than a $0.5 million in state child care funds in three years.

The Journal-Sentinel has spent the last two days exposing fraud and abuse in the state's child care assistance program that's part of the W-2 Welfare-to-Work effort.

Wisconsin Shares helps poor parents pay for child care while they become productive workers.

But the paper reported Sunday that an unknown number of parents bilk the system by having fake employers write forms they need to submit - sometimes with no letterheads and lots of spelling errors - and everyone in the scheme gets state aid.

In that article, a Racine County official defended the program, saying it's given lots of needy parents a big boost.

But Rep. Robin Vos, R-Racine, says the system is rife with finger-pointing by bureaucrats who never catch the fraud happening under their noses.

"We're not being very good stewards of tax dollars," said Vos.

The paper also said the state put out new rules for the program in November, after its reporters started asking questions.

But officials in Dane, Kenosha and Brown counties said they were still not aware of those changes a month later.