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More child care providers lose state payments for alleged fraud

Thirty-five more child care providers have had their state payments cut off for allegedly defrauding the Wisconsin Shares program.

Their cases have been referred to law enforcement. And it brings to 69 the number of centers which lost their subsidies.

The vast majority are in Milwaukee, but the Wisconsin State Journal said one of the centers in Madison was repeatedly fined for numerous problems that go back 16 years.

Wisconsin Shares is the state-funded child care program for the working poor.

A recent audit uncovered almost $20 million in fraudulent or questionable payments made to providers in 2008.

Today, state Children and Families' secretary Reggie Bicha will appear before the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee to discuss the problems.

One Milwaukee provider who got $3 million from Wisconsin Shares kept being paid by the state, even after officials demanded that she pay back $103,000 in fraudulent subsidies. And last week, state auditors found that four sex offenders had the same addresses as licensed child care providers.

That spurred a call for Bicha to resign. But Gov. Jim Doyle said Bicha's the one heading up the reforms after years of problems.