By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports
Gov. Brad Little has approved $28 million in funding for childcare grants, but not without weighing in on questions into how the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare awarded community grants.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Raúl Labrador announced an investigation into DHW and recipients of funds through the Idaho Community Grant Program. Idaho Reports later reported that the investigation came after co-chairs of the Joint Finance-Appropriation Committee alerted Labrador to their concerns over some community grants going to organizations that serve children younger than 5, even though the Idaho Legislature had directed DHW to award grants to serve children ages 5-13.
DHW maintained that it legally awarded all grants, and any programs that served children younger than 5 also served school-aged children.
The budget committee later shaved $14 million off funds available for childcare grants – the same amount of money that had gone to community grant recipients that serve children ages 0-4. Though the two grant programs are different, they come from the same pot of American Rescue Plan Act funds.
In his Wednesday transmittal letter, Little pointed out that the budget committee had deducted those $14 million in funds while the investigation remains ongoing.
“My signature on this bill shall not be construed as an agreement of finding that there was any wrongdoing or that ineligible payments were made to ineligible partner providers,” Little wrote. “I will wait until the process is completed and then support necessary action to correct any mistakes.”
“Until then, people expect we not cast any aspersions on others or rush to a conclusion,” Little concluded. “Our credibility depends on it.”