ALBANY - The state made more than $214,000 in improper payments to the adoptive parents of hard-to-place and handicapped children who had either died or were too old to receive aid, according to an audit released today by the state Comptroller's Office.
The Office of Children and Family Services doled out $180,783 in aid for 25 children who were listed as deceased, according to an audit. "Taking care of children - especially orphaned and disabled children - should be at the top of everyone's agenda," said Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. "But taxpayers shouldn't be paying for the care of children who have passed away."
One child, whose adoptive parents received $2,613, had been incorrectly identified as deceased due to a data entry error by Erie County. Most of the deceased children in the audit were from the New York City area, with others from Albany, Syracuse and Long Island.
In another instance, the state made $33,360 in payments despite an adopted person having turned 21 because of an incorrect birth date in the Children and Family Service's records.
The agency stopped the improper payments during the course of the audit and officials are now trying to recover the money, according to the audit. The audit covered the period of January 2007 through January 2009. There was no immediate comment from the agency.
Nick Reisman/Gannett Albany Bureau