An audit of enrollments at daycare centers has detected almost 50,000 nonexistent children for whom the federal government has been paying subsidies.
Welfare Secretary María Luisa Albores told the newspaper El Universal that her department has been carrying out home visits to verify the existence of children who appear on enrollment lists.
So far her department has carried out checks on 210,566 enrollments but has only succeeded in locating 161,298 children: 49,268 boys and girls have daycare center identity cards but seemingly don’t exist.
Some of the missing children were registered as living at addresses that don’t exist either, Albores explained.
The number of “phantom children” is likely to increase as the audit has not yet been completed.
Albores said that authorities are currently determining whether legal or administrative action will be taken against daycare centers found to have been receiving subsidies for nonexistent children.
After financial irregularities at the centers came to light last month, President López Obrador said that subsidies will be paid directly to children’s parents instead.
Albores stressed that no payments will be made for children who don’t exist.
“When we find irregularities, payments won’t be made . . . we need for them [the children] to exist to be able to support” their parents,” she said.
The first direct payments to parents will be made next week, Albores added.
On February 7, López Obrador said that all government social program funds will be delivered directly to beneficiaries to avoid theft.
With regard to daycare centers, he said “it was found that there are doctored reports [that inflate enrollment numbers] . . . and other kinds of irregularities.”
López Obrador explained that parents will be given 1,600 pesos (US $85) every two months for each child in daycare.
“All children at daycare centers will be protected. Direct support will be given to the mothers and fathers, not to the daycare centers . . .” he said.
Source: El Universal (sp)