Tuesday, February 03, 2015
DESE responds to state audit of Early Childhood program
Today the Missouri Auditor’s office released a report looking at state monitoring of payments for early childhood education programs. Before today’s recommendations were released, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) had already started implementing new monitoring procedures.
Over the last six months, the Department started implementing a new online process for ensuring compliance with Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) funding. The new online process should help more closely monitor payments and collect supporting documentation from school districts. The Department currently makes timely monitoring visits and requires districts to upload documents one month in advance of scheduled visits to prevent rescheduling.
Parents as Teachers (PAT) is foundational funding for students, and other state agencies provide additional funding for further support services. The Department agrees that additional funding on top of PAT should be closely monitored for duplicate payments. The report did state that, “District participation in the PAT program is mandatory, so DESE reimbursements are appropriate.” The Department will communicate with the Department of Social Services providing a list of programs receiving PAT funding.
Department staff currently make periodic site visits to PAT programs, and the Department agrees that more on-site visits would be beneficial. The Department’s reduced budget for staff has prevented more on-site monitoring. At the time of the audit, the Department had two supervisors each with a caseload of 260 PAT programs and about 100 Missouri Preschool Program (MPP) participants. For both PAT and MPP, the Department agrees to increase reporting of enrollment and define enrollment calculations through administrative manuals.