UPDATE: Concerns with Middleton foster agency surfaced years ago - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Concerns with Middleton foster agency surfaced years ago

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MADISON (WKOW) -- State officials said several counties severed ties with a Middleton foster care agency years before a state audit flagged more than $6 million in questionable agency expenses, including state payments supporting the purchase of a luxury car and three boats.

Testifying Thursday before a state senate committee, Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson said state and county officials failed to receive necessary documentation from Community Care Resources, Inc. several years ago. Anderson said some counties and the state stopped contracting with CCR, but said some counties continued with the private agency because few, if any other options, existed to coordinate the placement of high-needs foster children in homes.

Anderson told lawmakers the department's relatively new audit and payment rate-setting powers allowed department officials to uncover allegedly inappropriate CCR expenses funded  by the state.

When pressed by health and human services committee chair Leah Vukmir (R- Wauwatosa) about how executives of CCR used state funds to pay for items such as cable television and a trip to allow the company president's wife to compete in the Boston Marathon, Anderson said the charges went undetected until a comprehensive state audit because counties did not reimburse agencies for submitted receipts, instead negotiating a contract with agencies and accepting their billings.

Anderson said state officials now set uniform rates for payment to all foster care agencies, and more financial reviews and audits are occurring. But DCF spokespersons said it is possible an agency could go five years between comprehensive, state audits.

Anderson declined to respond to a question on whether the state department of justice is investigating CCR's practices, only confirming her department and DOJ have been in discussions.

CCR is appealing a revocation of its license to oversee foster care homes. A statement from the company's attorney said CCR strongly disputes the allegations.

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  MADISON (WKOW) -- The findings of an audit of a Middleton foster care agency accused of fraud will get an airing before a state Senate committee.

Community Care Resources is accused of overcharging taxpayers millions by exploiting weaknesses in financial oversight by counties and the state. The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families has already revoked the company's license, and is seeking repayment.

The company's owner, Dan Simon, has denied the allegations.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hear testimony Thursday.

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