It looks like Big Brother wants to put an end to child care fraud in Wisconsin, says Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Eugene Kane. The state has approved a $1 million pilot program to install fingerprint scanners in child care centers to combat fraud in the Wisconsin Shares subsidy program. Although many Americans are concerned about technology’s encroaching threats to their privacy, that doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to black children in Milwaukee.
The Wisconsin Shares program was ripped off for millions of dollars by some corrupt child care providers who used state funds meant for poor children and families to line their own pockets. The Journal Sentinel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Cashing in on Kids” pulled the covers off much of the abuse, including shoddy oversight by state bureaucrats that allowed the scandal to happen. Because a large part of the abuse involved some providers being paid for taking care of children who never showed up at the center, the fingerprinting policy was deemed a good way to track attendance and eliminate fraud. Still, for some in town, the idea of scanning fingerprints of young children just seemed wrong. “We are not going to allow our children to be branded like cattle!” said an African-American mother on Facebook. A caller on black radio in Milwaukee said, “It’s like putting black children ‘on paper’ before they even become criminals!” he said, alluding to the term used when someone is caught up in the criminal justice system.