Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Jacksonville Auditor Finds ‘Significant Issues’ With Kids Hope Alliance Grant Management

Kids Hope Alliance
News4Jax
Kids Hope Alliance

Jacksonville’s child services agency, the Kids Hope Alliance, has “significant issues” with record-keeping and with ensuring grantees fulfill their requirements, according to the Council Auditor’s Office. 

In a report released in April and expected to be presented to City Council’s Taxation, Revenue & Utilization of Expenditures Commission this week, Council Auditor Kim Taylor identified nine areas of concern about the agency, from grant accounts that held unspent dollars at the end of the grant period, to the agency’s inappropriately using about $3,800 in city funding to pay state fines. 

The Kids Hope Alliance was formed in 2018 as a reorganization of two earlier entities: the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, which provided general services for children, and the Jax Journey Oversight Committee, which oversaw and funded programs for at-risk youth. Its role is to award grants to on-the-ground groups providing after-school programming, services for children with special needs, and diversion programs to keep at-risk youth out of the criminal justice system. 

In a summary of its findings, the auditor’s report reads, “KHA lacked written standard operating procedures, which likely contributed to many of the issues.” The auditor found “compliance issues” for more than half of the non-financial grant requirements it analyzed — problems like failing to keep sufficient records or not completing programming that the grant required. 

In one example, the city gave KHA a grant to fund a program to keep youth out of the criminal justice system. The grant required KHA to ensure that the program’s staff maintained the appropriate minimum licensing. KHA listed the qualifications in its hiring requirements, but it didn’t take any steps to ensure compliance.   

The audit found that in 18 out of the 19 grants it examined, the final transaction was more than 90 days after the grant period ended. Four grants ended, but their accounts remained open, one of them holding more than $200,000 in unspent funds.

The audit also identified small discrepancies in the money that KHA reimbursed to its staff, totalling about 5% of the total amount reimbursed. 

And KHA improperly used city funding to pay the state for $3,860 in fines — including $3,100 for instances where background checks for staff were not on file, $50 when a fire drill was not completed, and $25 for soap not being available in the bathroom. 

The report examined funding provided to KHA and its predecessors by the city between October 1, 2016, and March 31, 2019. 

KHA CEO Mike Weinstein agreed with all of the report’s findings.  

“KHA appreciated the Council Auditor’s report,” he said in a statement. “It was thorough, complete and we are implementing all of their recommendations.” 

Contact Sydney Boles at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.