Nashville daycare accused of pocketing taxpayer money meant to feed children

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A local daycare that watches over some of the most vulnerable children in Nashville may have pocketed taxpayer money that’s supposed to help feed those children.

Academy for Kidz (Photo: WKRN)
Academy for Kidz (Photo: WKRN)

The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury released an investigative report Wednesday that shows Academy for Kidz in East Nashville falsified documents that it submitted to the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS).

TDHS serves as the middleman between the federal program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and local organizations that help provide food to low-income children.

The Child and Adult Care Food Program is funded by taxpayer money. That money is doled out by TDHS to organizations like Academy for Kidz.

“You should trust but verify,” said John Dunn, spokesman for the Comptroller’s office. “In these situations, TDHS was providing plenty of trust but unfortunately they weren’t verifying the money they were paying out was appropriate.”

For example, in the Comptroller’s report is shows on July 21, 2015, there were 21 children present at the Academy for Kidz. However, the daycare said it fed 56 children. Therefore, the report says money was paid for 35 children who weren’t there, and that money is now missing.

“Comptroller investigators question the legitimacy of all $83,881 paid to AKF from July 1, 2014, through September 30, 2015. Investigators found that meal reimbursement claims reflected an inaccurate amount of children served,” the report says.

The Comptroller’s office also investigated the Cherry Tree Food Program in Clarksville, which also allegedly submitted false reports.

“There have been numerous issues at TDHS for the past several years,” said Dunn. “These are just the latest examples.

TDHS said in an email that it had already started recouping funds from Cherry Tree when the Comptroller’s report came out. It also says there’s no evidence children weren’t fed at Academy for Kidz.

“The TDHS takes oversight and monitoring seriously,” said TDHS spokeswoman Stephanie Jarnagin in a statement. “We respectfully disagree with the conclusion that TDHS is not providing proper oversight.”

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