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Connecticut Often Did Not Comply With Federal Adoption Assistance Requirements

The Department of Children and Families (State agency) did not always comply with (1) Federal requirements in claiming adoption assistance payments for Federal reimbursement and (2) Federal and State requirements for performing adoption assistance program background checks. Specifically, for 110 of the 291 sampled records, the State agency provided inadequate documentation supporting the allowability of payments totaling $1.3 million in fiscal years 2009 and 2010. On the basis of our sample results, we estimated unallowable payments of at least $17.5 million during this period. For 185 of the 291 sampled records, the State agency provided inadequate documentation that required background checks had been performed. On the basis of our sample results, we estimated that the safety of 2,862 children may have been at risk.

The State agency claimed ineligible adoption assistance payments because it did not always follow its established procedures for ensuring that claims met Federal requirements for financial eligibility, background checks, and adoption assistance agreements. In addition, the State agency did not have adequate controls in place to ensure that the required background checks were completed for prospective foster and adoptive families and the documentation to support the required background checks was retained.

We recommend that the State agency (1) refund to the Federal Government $17.5 million in estimated unallowable payments claimed without adequate documentation; (2) discontinue claiming Title IV-E adoption assistance reimbursement for the children identified in the 110 sampled adoptee payment records; (3) strengthen and implement controls to ensure full compliance with financial and other eligibility requirements; and (4) strengthen and implement controls, such as but not limited to accurate and appropriate checklists, to ensure full compliance with background check requirements. The State agency stated that it would resolve all outstanding issues with the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.