Why CACFP Is Important
USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program plays a vital role in improving the quality of day care and making it more affordable for many low-income families. Each day, 2.9 million children receive nutritious meals and snacks through CACFP.
A General Overview
CACFP is authorized at section 17 of the National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1766). Program regulations are issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) under 7 CFR part 226.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administers CACFP through grants to States. The program is administered within most States by the State educational agency.
Independent centers and sponsoring organizations enter into agreements with their administering State agencies to assume administrative and financial responsibility for CACFP operations. CACFP serves nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children and adults who are enrolled for care at participating child care centers, day care homes, and adult day care centers. CACFP also provides meals to children residing in emergency shelters, and snacks to youths participating in afterschool care programs.
As a sponsor of the Child & Adult Care Food Program, Child Care & Nutrition works exclusively with Family Child Care Providers, also known as Day Care Homes.
A family or group day care home must sign an agreement with a sponsoring organization to participate in CACFP. Day care homes must be licensed or approved to provide day care services. Reimbursement for meals served in day care homes is based upon eligibility for tier I rates (which targets higher levels of reimbursement to low-income areas, providers, or children) or lower tier II rates.
Program payments for day care homes are based on the number of meals served to enrolled children, multiplied by the appropriate reimbursement rate for each breakfast, lunch, supper, or snack they are approved to serve.
Tier I day care homes are those that are located in low-income areas, or those in which the provider’s household income is at or below 185 percent of the Federal income poverty guidelines. Sponsoring organizations may use elementary school free and reduced price enrollment data or census block group data to determine which areas are low-income.
Tier II homes are those family day care homes which do not meet the location or provider income criteria for a tier I home. The provider in a tier II home may elect to have the sponsoring organization identify income-eligible children, so that meals served to those children who qualify for free and reduced price meals would be reimbursed at the higher tier I rates.
A child’s eligibility for tier I rates in a tier II day care home may be documented through submission of an income eligibility statement which details family size and income or participation in any of a number of means-tested State or Federal programs with eligibility at or below 185 percent of poverty.