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Somali-American child care providers push back on reports of fraud

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Somali community members protest inside the Capitol.
Somali community members and day care providers gather inside the State Capitol before meeting with an advisor to DFL Gov. Mark Dayton to protest allegations of fraud and funding terrorism inside the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn. on Monday, May 21, 2018.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Somali-American child care providers are criticizing reports of widespread fraud in a state program that helps low-income parents. 

Legislative Auditor James Nobles said Friday that he will investigate Minnesota's Child Care Assistance Program after former Department of Human Services investigator Scott Stillman told a Senate committee last week that fraud may be costing taxpayers upwards of $100 million. 

Sadia Wasame carries a sign in protest.
Sadia Wasame carries a sign protesting the allegations of fraud and funding terrorism made in a Fox 9 story inside the Minnesota State Capitol on Monday, May 21, 2018.
Evan Frost | MPR News

After Stillman testified before a Senate committee Tuesday, MPR News learned that he resigned from DHS months after the state settled a defamation suit brought by Mark Lanterman, a private computer forensics investigator. The state paid Lanterman $65,000, and Stillman acknowledged in a letter that he made false statements about Lanterman. 

Stillman told MPR News the $100 million figure is an estimate he heard from colleagues and extrapolated from multiple cases.

At a news conference Monday, Minneapolis child care center operator Nasro Abshir said Republican attacks on providers based on isolated fraud cases are racist.

"We've been welcomed, encouraged, and supported here in the state, and we're here to say as Minnesotans we won't stand for slander, bullying and intimidation," Abshir said.

Abshir and her fellow providers said the Child Care Assistance Program is underfunded by at least $50 million, and there's a lengthy list of families on the waiting list.