Melissa Hughes runs a child daycare home in Davenport. She participated in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture through the Iowa Department of Education's Bureau of Nutrition Programs.The CACFP is a federal program that provides reimbursement for meals and snacks provided by providers to children in daycare homes and centers. A provider is required to keep detailed, accurate records of the provider's menus, as well as of the attendance and meals/snacks served to each child in the care of the provider.
The participation of providers in CACFP is supervised by a sponsor, in this case Community Action of Eastern Iowa. To participate in CACFP in Iowa, the provider must possess a certification of registration from the Iowa Department of Human Services, and must sign an agreement that provides for the terms and conditions of program participation. One of the provisions in the agreement specifies that a provider shall keep required records.CACFP is a program created by the Agricultural Risk Protection Act, 42 U.S.C. ? 1766. That Act and its regulations dictate the terms of the participation agreement between the sponsor and the provider.
The regulations at 7 CFR ? 226.16 enumerate reasons why a daycare home provider may be terminated from CACFP. Being cited as "seriously deficient" and not correcting the deficiency is one cause for termination. A serious deficiency includes the provider's failure to maintain records.
The evidence presented supports a finding that Ms. Hughes has not permanently or completely corrected the deficiency of failing to maintain records. The evidence also supports a finding that such failure is systemic and not a one-time human error. Ms. Hughes had already been put on notice regarding the importance of keeping required records. There was no indication that she was ill to the point that she had to close her daycare. Community Action has shown that Ms. Hughes has not permanently and completely corrected the seriously deficient practice of failure to maintain records.
The regulations governing CACFP are quite strict, purposefully so. While a termination from CACFP may seem harsh, the rationale for the strictness of the regulations is simple. CACFP is funded by public monies; therefore, a provider is required to be accountable to the public for how s/he operates. When such accountability is lacking, the public trust is gone, and the sponsor is required to take appropriate action. Put another way, the sponsor has a duty, no matter how unpleasant at times that duty may be, to hold its providers accountable on behalf of the public.
The termination of Melissa Hughes from the Child and Adult Care Food Program is hereby ordered.