Franklin County plans to recover money from Childhood Early Intervention LLC

State audit showed disallowable amounts of salaries for owners, the amount of rent paid and vehicle/travel expenses

September 09, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Franklin County (Pa.) Commissioners say they are committed to recovering state money an audit found was spent in disallowable amounts by Childhood Early Intervention LLC.

Franklin and Fulton counties' mental health/mental retardation (MH/MR) program, which is administered by Franklin County, had contracted with Childhood Early Intervention LLC of Fayetteville, Pa., since the 2006-07 fiscal year.

According to a news release, Franklin County staff initiated a state audit "when irregularities were noted" during rate negotiations. That audit was conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare's Bureau of Financial Operations.

The audit was conducted from July to early September of 2009, and it involved contracts from fiscal years 2007-08 and 2008-09, the news release states.


The audit showed disallowable amounts of salaries for the two owners, the amount of rent paid to a related party and vehicle/travel expenses, the news release stated.

Franklin County already withheld $107,000 in payments due to county officials' concerns, the news release stated. That amount represents the last few months Childhood Early Intervention LLC provided services and was not compensated.

The state welfare department recently notified Franklin County it would not require any reimbursement from the county beyond the $107,000. However, David Keller, chairman of the county commissioners, said the MH/MR program will seek further reimbursement of about $198,000 to reach the total amount the audit claims was disallowed.

"The audit findings were (that) there was $305,000 in what they consider disallowed costs," Keller said.

MH/MR early intervention providers are paid with pass-through funding from the state, he said.

A Childhood Early Intervention official referred questions to the company's attorney, Edward Seeber, who said the following:

"It's generally our policy not to comment on matters that have not been completed. In this instance, Childhood Early Intervention has the right to appeal the audit findings and will do so.

"Furthermore, CEI intends to seek reimbursement for the services provided to the county for which it has not been paid. Any characterization by the county that CEI acted either unethically or illegally is false."

MH/MR's early intervention program serves children up to 3 years old with developmental delays.

"It's open to everyone. It's a federally mandated program," said Claire Hornberger, MH/MR administrator.

Currently, 187 children are active in the program and another 25 are in referral status. Twenty-five more children are being tracked, according to Hornberger.

Existing relationships with other providers allowed the county to ensure affected children could be transitioned from Childhood Early Intervention to other therapists, Keller said.

Hornberger said the MH/MR contracts with Childhood Early Intervention were $247,785 for 2006-07, $382,509 for 2007-08 and $561,726 for 2008-09.

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