The Idaho Department of Health & Welfare broke the law.

Earlier this year I was ridiculed by the liberal press in Boise when I opposed federal CARES Act and ARPA money continuing to go to education three years after the Covid “pandemic”.

The original concept at the start of Covid was that with businesses shutting down, financial relief should be provided to childcare providers who were also forced by the government to shut down. The grant money would help them stay in business and would help children with learning loss caused by the pandemic,

Of course the federal money given to the state of Idaho was borrowed against future generations of Americans and resulted in massive inflation.

The Idaho legislature set clear guidelines for businesses to receive $68 million of these grants. First, only one grant per business. Second, the grants could only be used to support children of school age and specifically excluded children under 5.

The Idaho legislature employs its own internal auditors, and they just issued their audit report finding that the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare (IDHW) did not follow the law when distributing these tens of millions of dollars of grants. Here are some of the findings. To read the full report, click here:

1. IDHW did not maintain sufficient documentation to support why they awarded the grants to recipients.

2. Some grant recipients received more than the amounts allowed by statute by submitting multiple applications that used variations of their business name.

For example, grant award could be up to $500,000 for community providers with a statewide presence, but United Way submitted three different grant applications, all with the same Tax ID number, and it was awarded $693,200, in excess of the $500k maximum.

The Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children is a controversial organization that included highly sexualized curriculum for children, LGBTQ aggressive curriculum and Critical Race Theory in its literature. The organization submitted three grant applications and was awarded $10.5 million, well in excess of the $500k maximum.

This is the same organization that my predecessor supported a controversial $6 million contract for CRT and aggressive sex Ed materials.

3. IDHW did not provide evidence to the auditors that they complied with the age requirements for the grant awards.

4. IDHW did not carefully review the applications to ensure only eligible expenses were provided for with the grants, and as a result over $4 million of the grant awards was used for statutorily ineligible expenses.

For example, none of the grant money was to be used for building improvements and landscaping, and yet the grant applications included such expenses in the budgets, and millions of dollars was spent on these forbidden expenses.

5. IDHW was supposed to collect status reports from recipients to ensure compliance with the requirements of the grant program, but the status reports were found to be insufficient to verify compliance with the requirements of the program.

6. For phase 1 of the program, $36 million was authorized by the Idaho legislature to be distributed, but IDHW exceeded that amount by $427,350.

7. IDHW payments to the grant recipients were not made on time according to the statutory requirements.

In the end, IDHW disagreed with every single one of the auditor’s conclusions even though the audit report is 55 pages and is well documented, and the bills passed by the legislature were very specific as to what the limitations and requirements of the program were.

IDHW is the largest agency of Idaho’s government. I am on the legislature’s Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee. I guarantee that this kind of report will draw extra scrutiny by me in the next legislative session to make sure that our statutes are clear.

Even though I voted against the extension of these federal debt laden, unnecessary childcare grants, I will be particularly diligent in future sessions to attempt to stop the waste and excess and bad management of these Idaho government agencies at your expense.

Here is one of the stories in which I am quoted as being against an additional $28 million of these grants that was just for the period of April 1 to June 30 of this year. As of July 1, the grants have finally expired. And yes, I compared the legislature to crack dealers with this largesse.