State Auditor R. Thomas Wagner, Jr. raised concerns regarding the ability of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services Division of Social Services (DSS) and Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) to administer Delaware’s Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) block grant program.
Wagner stated that he took issue with a “material weakness” in meeting federal requirements concerning payments to individuals who fail to cooperate with child support requirements.
The results of an annual independent audit of the state’s finances for the year ended June 30, 2016, overseen by the Office of the Auditor of Accounts (AOA), determined that 25 percent of the TANF cases tested did not comply with federal grant monitoring requirements.
The requirements are designed to identify and sanction TANF program beneficiaries who do not cooperate with the state in determining paternity, or in modifying or enforcing a child support order. The failure to comply was the result of lax internal controls, specifically a lack of communication, on the part of both DSS and DCSS, leading to overpayments to program recipients, Wagner stated
“The material weakness found in the way DSS and DCSS comply with the grant requirements could have been avoided if the appropriate internal controls had been in place,” said Wagner. “Yet, the failure to do so puts the state in a position where the Federal government could levy strong penalties resulting in a loss of funding.” Wagner continued.
Under federal requirements, DSS failed to reduce or suspend TANF benefits for beneficiaries that were non-cooperative with child support.
DCSS is responsible for identifying the non-compliant beneficiary and reporting the information to DSS. DSS is responsible for levying sanctions until compliance is met. The audit shows that DCSS and DSS failed to consistently meet these requirements. The failure to comply with Federal regulations could cost the State of Delaware program dollars needed to implement existing programs.
“DSS has reviewed these cases and is working with Audit and Recovery Management Services (ARMS) to recoup over payments,” said Wagner. “In addition, the sanctions required under TANF were applied to any cases identified by the auditors that remain open,” Wagner stated