You bought it, they lost it: DCF overpayments - WFSB 3 Connecticut

You bought it, they lost it: DCF overpayments

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State money handed out by mistake that's what the I-Team found in the latest installment of their series "You Bought It, They Lost It" that tracks government waste.

Channel 3 looked into a program run by the Department of Children and Families that was first exposed for wasting taxpayer dollars two years ago.

In October 2015, the I-Team first broke the story about overpayments in the DCF Subsidized Guardianship Program.  The money is designed to ease the transition when a child is placed by the state with a relative or friend willing to take over guardianship. 

But the payments are supposed to stop at age 18 unless the child stays in school, then at age 21.  In the initial report, the I-Team found that DCF kept making the payments beyond those cutoffs, in some cases for months and months. 

Back then, the I-Team revealed $107,000 that had been overpaid and DCF promised to retrain of staff and automation to make it easier to catch mistakes. 

This year, the I-Team was analyzing missing property reports collected by the state comptroller.  A report from August of 2016 with more than $30,000 that was overpaid and a report from February of this year with nearly $7,000 more. In total, nearly $42,000 was handed out by mistake. 

The I-Team looked into why these incidents are still happening two years later. A DCF spokesman told the I-Team "since WFSB reported on this issue two years ago, there have been three additional overpayments to families ... While this represents a tiny fraction of the almost 10,000 families currently receiving a monthly subsidy ... We take our responsibility over public resources extremely seriously." 

The department said they've already recovered approximately $20,000, have made repayment arrangements for $15,000 more and are still chasing the rest of that money.

DCF said they hope to finally have that automated data tracking system online within the next year to cut off the payments automatically without the chance for human error, but they're also retraining staff once again in hopes of avoiding another appearance on "You Bought It, They Lost It."  

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