A $750 million a year program designed to aid impoverished families by subsidizing childcare has such a poor screening process that, in many cases, the money is going to convicted rapists, molesters, and drug dealers.
Cornelius Osborne is a rapist, thief, and drug dealer who has done multiple stints behind bars. Over more than two years, Illinois taxpayers paid him nearly $5,000 to babysit his sister’s children. In 2004, she helped him fill out an application so that the state would pay him to care for her two children.
I thought he would be rejected, but they didn't. I never got a call. They never asked about it.
How can that be? Until reforms were enacted in 2009 (reforms that took more than 18 months to be implemented, by the way), the program relied on the honor system. Osborne simply didn’t mention his past convictions as a sex offender. 60,000 of the 70,000 babysitters paid by the program are unlicensed and, until the 2009 reform, did not require full background checks.
The state simply relied on felons to list their felonies on their applications. Felons. Here’s a thought: If a man would rape a woman, why would his personal morality convict him to disclose it on an application? Criminals are not criminals by being upstanding members of society.
It isn’t just the sitters that need checking; it’s anyone that will be around the children being sat. Lemorial Westfield has been receiving subsidized checks for watching three young children in her home. Her husband George is a registered sex offender. When a Chicago Tribune reporter went to investigate, a 6-year-old girl answered the door and then went to get George. It seems Lemorial had stepped out for a bit.
A lot of families rely on these subsidies to make ends meet, and to make sure their children are cared for. But what was intended to help the impoverished get a leg up on life has provided sex-offenders with access to children, and a paycheck to boot.
What good is help from the state if they’re going to send a child molester to babysit your children?
Image via alaina.buzas/Flickr