Child molesters, rapists and other violent felons paid by federal government to babysit www.privateofficer.com
CHICAGO IL Aug 31 2011— Child molesters, rapists and other violent felons have been allowed to take part in a state-federal babysitting program and got access to children even after reforms were made, a Chicago Tribune investigation found.
In Sunday’s editions, the Tribune reported problems with the Child Care Assistance Program — a $750 million-a-year program that subsidizes child care for more than 150,000 poor families in the state.
Illinois The paper didn’t uncover instances of children being harmed, but it said privacy laws prevented an in-depth study.
The program, intended to provide impoverished families with much needed child care, has come under scrutiny before, with lawmakers passing a law in 2009 that forced the state’s Department of Human Services to do a better job of vetting potential participants. The aim was to prevent convicted rapists — like a man who earned $5,000 baby-sitting two children over a two-year period — from taking part.
Still, the Tribune found that not only did it take nearly 18 months to start doing the checks, but that even today there are not sufficient safeguards to prevent people who live in homes with sex offenders and other felons from participating.
For example, the paper found that a woman in Bellwood was paid by the state to babysit in her home — even though her husband pleaded guilty to molesting a teenage girl. The state removed her from the program this year after the paper asked about her case. In another case, the paper reported that nothing stopped a parolee from moving in with his girlfriend, whom the state was paying to babysit, despite convictions on two gun and three drug cases.
In fact, according to court records, the man, Raheem Gray, only moved out last year when he was returned to prison after a parole check revealed a gun hidden in the couple’s apartment under a child’s bed.
State officials, after learning of the findings, have vowed to implement further reforms, the paper reported.
“You are talking about not only the state sanctioning, but the state creating an economic incentive for someone with a criminal record to be in a room with a kid,” said Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican. “That’s frankly not a situation that I find acceptable.”
Advocates, though, say there are no problems with the vast majority of those who participate in the 14-year-old program that they say is crucial to helping parents work their way out of poverty.
“This is a program that is absolutely essential if we are going to, with a straight face, tell families that if they work and if they continue to develop themselves, we can help them make a difference for their families, said Maria Whelan, the president of the nonprofit Illinois Action for Children.